When the WYSO staff realized that rehearsals and group in-person classes were effectively canceled for Spring, WYSO Music Director Kyle Knox and Membership Manager Valree Casey sprang into action. They created a schedule, recruited the sectional and chamber coaches to teach, and on Saturday, March 28, the first of the Orchestra Zoom Coachings took place. Meanwhile, in the Music Makers program, Director Erin Barnard and Membership Coordinator Juliana Mesa Jaramillo started work to adapt a complex in-person program into a virtual one.
The plans began to take shape just days after the March 11 University press conference when Chancellor Blank announced the UW-Madison responses to COVID-19. When Maestro Knox addressed the Youth Orchestra by video on March 12 (screenshot on left), he assured students the music would continue! Wheels were already turning to make that happen—and when the scope of the situation unfolded, WYSO’s plans grew more complex.
257 Orchestral Coaching Sessions
On Saturday, March 28, section coaches, chamber coaches, conductors, and guest artists began to teach small groups of orchestra students by instrument —all online via the Zoom platform. Students (and parents) learned how to follow the schedule, how to login to Zoom, and how to arrive at class ready to participate. A total of 32 coaches prepared lessons in instrument techniques, audition tips, how to work together online, and then transitioned into virtual concert techniques.
With a call-out to Valree’s amazing organization and communication to all involved and a cheer to human resiliency, what began as a computer or iPad screen full of human head-shots began to take on life. Suddenly there were musicians playing instruments and learning together. The screens began to feel normal.
Music Makers: 710 Private Lessons, 51 classes!
On March 18, the “Governor’s Order” closed Dane County schools, and almost instantly, in the WYSO Music Makers program, Director Erin Barnard and Membership Coordinator Juliana Mesa Jaramillo led the teachers, students, and families in re-organizing private lessons and group classes into online formats.
The Music Makers teachers worked quickly to identify what kinds of digital devices students had access to (iPads, computers, or phones), and also, amazingly, determined which platforms would work best for different students. They adapted to slide easily between Facebook, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and Google Meets in order to meet the students’ needs for connection.
Director Erin Barnard adapted the group classes to be even more student-centered, beginning each with individualized check-ins and individualized lessons to challenge each student’s needs. When she discovered that one important need was a dedicated music practice zone, she arranged to drop off or ship music stands and other necessary items directly to students. Barnard also offered “Anytime-Zoom” tech support for tuning instruments and trouble-shooting platform issues. Another great resource Barnard created for students was a website where they could find tuning apps, music, musical exercises, and sources of musical inspiration—a virtual candy-dish for students passionate about music (Barnards Strings & Things).
Now Music Makers staff, teachers and students are collaborating on creating a virtual recital to celebrate the learning and community that has been built in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
The concert will be live-streamed on Facebook on May 30th at 1:00 pm and you are all welcome to (virtually) attend!
Updated June 4,2020