WYSO Plan for Fall 2020

Welcome to the 2020-21 WYSO Season!


After many weeks of planning — and in consultation with Public Health Madison & Dane County, we are excited to announce a fall semester plan that will mark a safe return to in-person music making.

We are planning to begin the WYSO 20-21 season outdoors on September 5 for winds and brass students—and indoors for everyone else on November 8.  We will follow our normal three cycles, completing the 20-21 season a bit later than usual in early June. Our fall performances will most-likely be video-captured without a live audience—and live-streamed and/or video-presented later in the season. We are hopeful that we can return to live audience performances in 2021!

Studies suggest that while any in-person experience carries some risk, keeping group sizes small, preventing members and staff from overlapping between groups, and assuring that groups remain strictly separated from one another are the most effective ways to keep people safe. Therefore, we are dividing our five orchestras into cohorts of approximately 15 musicians, staggering rehearsal times, and carefully scheduling on both Saturday and Sunday in our available rooms at McFarland to create the safest experience for everyone (and one in which there are no more than 120 people present in the building at any one time). In addition, we are starting the winds and brass students outside in a large 40′ x 60′ tent, to help control the aerosols from these instruments and requiring specific personal equipment for all instruments.

There are still uncertainties ahead.  If there are changes in health within our community, we will pivot to yet smaller chamber-sized groups or to a fully virtual format.  Significant improvements to last spring’s virtual offering are planned, including more frequent sectional meetings, special guest artist master-classes, and a variety of music academic subjects. We do not anticipate having to go virtual this fall— however, if it comes to that, you will not be disappointed. And if the health of our community improves, we will pivot to playing again in full orchestras!

  • Registration will open on August 21 and close on September 8.
  • Scholarships for tuition and private lessons are also due on September 8.
  • Once you have completed registration, you will receive an invoice with your fees due.
  • Payment for the 20-21 season must be paid in full by October 2.


Questions and Answers

If Public Health Madison Dane County (PHMDC) changes its requirements for school starts, will WYSO adjust its plans?
WYSO is carefully monitoring PHMDC communications and will adjust all plans as necessary. If it becomes necessary to move to virtual learning for some or all of the instruments, WYSO is prepared to pivot. Our back-up plans include the possibility for smaller chamber-music-sized groups as well as all-virtual learning, if necessary.

When will the Fall Season 20-21 season begin?
For WYSO’s preferred in-person plan, the season will begin September 5 for Winds & Brass and on November 8 for all other instruments. WYSO is keeping an eye on PHMDC and will adjust as necessary.

What if a student cannot risk in-person WYSO rehearsals of any size?
We know that there are WYSO students who will not be able to attend in-person rehearsals, we just don’t know who you are. We are asking that if you are interested in WYSO programming this fall that you fill out a registration form.There is a question that asks if you are unable to attend in-person sessions and why. Once we have a better understanding of who is affected, we will work on alternate programming for that group of students.

Will we need to wear masks?
Absolutely. We are requiring:

    • Masks on all students, staff, and conductors all of the time, even while playing.
    • Wind and Brass musicians will need to make or buy “Masks with slits” to play your instruments.
    • And we are requiring bell covers for and bags for winds and brass to contain the aerosols.
    • For a complete list of all required equipment for all instruments, click here.

What else are you doing to keep us safe?

    • We will be asking screening questions and taking temperature scans as each student enters the building. You need to stay home if you do not feel well.
    • The WYSO Fall program is designed to have small cohorts of 15 students that play together but don’t overlap with other cohorts.While you may not get to see all of your friends from previous years, this is the best way to keep all of us safe.
    • The Winds and Brass will be conducting rehearsals outside in a tent in the McFarland Parking lot, as that is much safer for those instruments.

Will we have snacks such as bagels to eat on our rehearsal breaks?
We are sorry to say that there will be no food sales during the rehearsals and no gatherings outside of the rehearsal space. There will be almost no visitors to the rehearsals as each visitor brings the chance of COVID.

How will we get through the hallways to get to our classes without seeing lots of people?
The rehearsal start and end times will be carefully staggered so that only the cohort of 15 musicians and their conductor will be in the hallway at any one time.

Will we have final performances?
Definitely. And they will be unlike any performances you may have given before. More than likely there will be no audiences allowed and you will be performing with your cohort in an empty classroom or concert hall.  We are planning to video-record or live stream the WYSO concerts so that your friends and families can watch you play from the comfort of their homes. The fun part is that you can even invite your out-of-town Grandmother to attend!

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