Buffalo State Music Department Looking to Start the Fall Semester on the Right Note

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Yomira Meregildo / The Record

Thomas Tedesco, Culture Editor

The doors at Rockwell Hall are open for students this semester, but one will find it to be much different on the inside.

The on-going coronavirus pandemic has left students, teachers, and faculty in the music department to reimagine how they will conduct their work in and out of the classroom. Music department chair Dr. Victoria Furby laid out the various adjustments for the fall that has been improved upon from the previous spring semester.

“From the spring semester to the fall semester, I think we are infinitely more prepared,” Furby said, “It’s going to be far superior online and remote instruction in the fall.”

Instead of the larger, traditional orchestras, ensembles and choirs, the department has shrunken the number of students in a classroom into smaller chamber groups in order to adhere to social distancing.
The department has set a maximum of eight students per ensemble and that the students must stay twelve feet apart as opposed to the usual six feet in order to mitigate potential transmission that could be increased by singing or other music activities.

“There have been a significant number of studies done on musical instruments and singing,” Dr. Furby said, “So, those rules are kind of our analysis of the research and following recommendations.”

For music students, like Grant Asklar, a second-year music education major, the mix of in-person, synchronous, and asynchronous classes have provided a much different and difficult learning experience than normal.

“I am a very hands-on person and I love to interact with others,” Asklar said, “which is why I chose music as a career path. Music is all about connecting, expressing and creating with others, something that is very hard to do over Zoom.”

Even when the students are in the classroom, it has a much different look and feel than in the past.
“One of the most difficult things for me this semester is not seeing all of my classmates every day,” Asklar added, “The music department is such a tight-knit family, and it is so hard when half of the class is on Zoom.”

Although the adjustment has not been the easiest, faculty and students alike understand the importance of following these rules to be able to follow through with the semester in a safe manner.

“We want to continue to teach our students to make music, be artistic, be good role models, and also keep ourselves, our families, and our students safe,” Dr. Furby mentioned.

This commitment to the rules is also something that is being enforced outside of the classroom.
“As an RA, if I see someone in my building without a mask, I tell them to please put on a mask, because the more serious we take COVID, the longer the semester will last,” Asklar said.

While it is nearly impossible to constantly police the students, the department is trusting the students to do the right things while on campus.

“I have control in our building, beyond that, we must trust that young adults will behave as they should,” Furby said, “our fate will rest in the hands of the music students and the rest of the campus.”

Performances outside the classroom will still happen as scheduled, but with only the students and faculty present. No audience will be able to attend but will be able to watch the performance on a live stream. The Performing Arts Center in Rockwell Hall will still be utilized for the ensembles, while solo performances will be held in Ciminelli Recital Hall.