MU School of Music adjusts to distance learning

Majors across campus are having to make adjustments due to Marshall University’s closure. Students and professors in the School of Music said they are using this as an opportunity to learn new ways of teaching and performing music.

“One thing I told my students and faculty as we were preparing to make this transition is it’s going to be different and it’s going to be challenging, but we may discover some things out of this process that we really like and want to keep doing,” said Susan Tusing, the director of Marshall’s School of Music.

Tusing said  she hopes after the university opens back up that the school can take some of the techniques they picked up while teaching online and integrate them into regular classes.

When Spring Break was extended on March 11, it was announced that online course were only  expected to take place until April 13. However, Tusing said the possibility of the university being closed for the rest of the semester seemed like the most likely outcome, and she was correct.

“In working with the faculty to make plans, we figured out what we were going to do if we came back for the end of the semester, as well as the two weeks we would have been online,” Tusing said. “But we always had it in mind that it’s possible we won’t come back in person, we need to come up with plan B. So, at the same time we were working on two different tracks.

Something that the school of music has had to work around is their senior recitals. In order to graduate, seniors must perform a concert with pieces they have prepared.

“Some seniors have already had a recital hearing, which all of them have to do anyway, so we are letting the hearing take the place of the public performance,” Tusing said. “If we cannot set up a hearing, then they are just graded on the work they have done in preparation for the recital.”

Tusing said Marshall has allowed lab formatted classes, such as ensembles that would have to meet in person, to end the semester early and give the students the grade in the class they had thus far. This option is also available for students who are not able to access their instruments outside of class, like percussionists.

Tusing said she and the other professors are working to try and help students in this stressful situation as best as they can, and she is grateful for those working behind the scenes to make everything run as smoothly as possibly.

Emily Hayslett can be contacted at [email protected]