Music Department COVID-19 Protocols

The study, rehearsal, and performance of music are central to the Luther College community. As  a signature curricular and co-curricular program, the Music Department connects with hundreds of students on a daily basis. In a robust and rigorous academic and musical program, we train students for a lifetime of involvement in music as teachers, performing artists, church musicians, arts administrators, composers, and community volunteers.

The SARS-CoV-2 (novel coronavirus) has drastically altered the experience of music performance and music study around the globe. Consequently, the Luther College Music Department has adapted its educational methods, procedures, and protocols accordingly, in order to protect students, faculty, staff, and the Decorah community from the serious health risks posed by the novel coronavirus through the rehearsal and performance of music.

In our continuing effort to provide the highest quality student learning and musical education, we also wish to affirm that the health and safety of our community are paramount concerns. These departmental policies and protocols aim to deliver the highest quality musical education that we possibly can, within any methodologies or modalities we adopt.

The campus-wide protection protocols identified on the Being Community webpage should be observed at all times. The Music Department protocols listed here are specific to the study of music, and should be observed by all musicians at Luther College in addition to the campus-wide protocols. As understanding of the coronavirus evolves, and as local and regional conditions change, the Music Department may need to adjust protocols accordingly. Please view these protocols as an addendum to the Music Department Student Guidelines where you can access more general departmental information and requirements.

Academic Courses

Course Logistics

As stated in the campus-wide protection protocols, classroom faculty (theory, ear-training, music history, etc.) will be teaching in larger rooms than usual, with students spaced further apart. The instructor and students will wear face coverings at all times. Hybrid instruction will be utilized when pedagogical and/or safety needs warrant.

All classrooms will contain cleaning supplies. In addition to the routine and enhanced cleanings performed daily by Facilities Services, faculty will spray desks and tables with a disinfecting spray before and after each class.

Classroom keyboards will only be used by the instructor, and the instructor will clean the keyboard before and after use. Students will not be permitted to share textbooks or other resources while in classroom settings. Students enrolled in class piano (MUS 115, 116, 117) will wipe down keyboards before and after class.

Course Content

As stated in previous communication from President Ward to the College community: “Faculty will work with students who are ill, as well as those who are in isolation or quarantine, on a case-by-case basis so that they may maintain progress in their courses."

For classes that normally include extensive singing, chanting, or other vocalized activities, these activities will be prioritized when courses are held outdoors. When courses are held indoors, vocalization of skill-building activities should occur softly so as to limit aerosol spread. Several spaces in Jenson-Noble may be designated as breakout spaces to allow for socially-distanced small group work.

Applied Music

Applied lessons will take place during Fall Quarter 1 and Fall Quarter 2. Individual applied instruction in voice will be offered virtually, either synchronously or asynchronously, for all students. Individual instrumental applied instruction will be offered in a variety of formats including in-person lessons, virtual synchronous lessons, and virtual asynchronous lessons. Your studio teacher will reach out to you with more information as Fall Quarter 1 approaches. As always, studio lesson times will be scheduled by the applied instructor and student.

Virtual synchronous lessons involve the instructor and student connecting via Zoom or Google Meet for a live, virtual lesson. Students are encouraged to use a laptop or a tablet to connect for their virtual synchronous lessons. Asynchronous lessons involve a student recording their lesson material, sending their recording to their instructor, and connecting with their instructor via Zoom or Google Meet for the instructor to give feedback based on the student’s submitted recording. Students may record their asynchronous lesson material on a laptop, tablet, or phone. The applied instructor and student will together determine and utilize the method that will yield a more satisfactory and productive educational experience.

When the instructor teaches remotely, studio instructors may allow students to use their studio for a virtual synchronous or asynchronous lesson. Not all faculty will be teaching remotely, therefore faculty studios may not always be available to students during their lesson time. It may be necessary for students to attend their virtual lessons from a practice room.

Students will not be allowed to sing or play instruments in their residence hall rooms: this includes singing or playing during a remote music lesson, synchronous or asynchronous, as well as practicing or recording lesson material. A student may connect with the applied music instructor from a residence hall room for pedagogical, musical, or academic purposes that do not require the student to sing or play an instrument.

General protocols for studio usage are as follows: 

  • If meeting face-to-face, students, instructors, and collaborative pianists will wear face coverings and physical distancing will be observed. Face coverings will only be removed when necessary for a student or instructor to actively play their woodwind or brass instrument. 
  • If meeting face-to-face, students and instructors who play wind and brass instruments will use the recommended instrumental equipment (see below in Student Equipment Needs) to limit aerosol production.
  • Students who use faculty studios to connect with applied music faculty for a synchronous lesson are encouraged to plug their laptop or tablet into the studio supplied ethernet connection. 
  • Students who use faculty studios to connect to a virtual synchronous or asynchronous lesson are responsible for cleaning high-touch surfaces such as music stands, chairs, door knobs, and light switches when entering and vacating the space. If music stands and chairs are moved, they should be cleaned after being moved, before use.
  • The keys of any keyboard instrument used should be wiped down with the keyboard cleaning wipes that will be provided in every studio hallway. 
  • All lessons using faculty studios, whether virtual or in-person, will be scheduled with a minimum of a 30-minute period between lessons to allow for air exchange to occur in the studio.

Seminar locations and formats have yet to be determined for all studios. Your studio teacher will reach out to you with more information as Fall Quarter 1 approaches.

Ensemble Rehearsals

Large music ensembles are a vital part of campus life at Luther College. While rehearsal times, frequency, duration, and overlap will look different this fall, the department has endeavored to create an equitable large ensemble schedule that allows existing, faculty-led, curricular groups to meet and rehearse. Due to distancing guidelines, spaces available for rehearsal, and the size of many of our large ensembles, some ensembles may be split into smaller groups or sectionals for rehearsals, according to the programming choices of the ensemble director. Digital tools may be used to facilitate rehearsal. Ensemble rehearsals will take place during Fall Quarter 1 and Fall Quarter 2. 

Instrumental Ensembles

General protocols for instrumental ensemble rehearsals are as follows: 

  • Conductors, percussionists, and string players will wear face coverings at all times during rehearsals. Brass and woodwind players will wear face coverings while entering and exiting rehearsals, as well as any time they are not actively playing their instrument during the rehearsal. 
  • Students will be spaced at an appropriate physical distance from one another.
  • There will be no sharing of stands, instruments, equipment, sheet music, folders, pencils, condensation mitigation supplies, etc.
  • Students will practice good instrument hygiene as designated by studio instructors.
  • Each brass player will be required to ensure safety of others when emptying condensation that occurs during playing of their instrument(s). A 100% cotton towel is required for use while emptying condensation. Towels may not be shared, and students must bring enough towels that a clean towel can be used daily. Students must also bring a washable bag to store used towels in. Bags and towels should be washed weekly. 
  • Ensemble conductors will determine best practices for instrument cases when unpacking and packing and whether folder cabinets will be used, with the goal of efficient traffic flow. These procedures will be shared with students at the ensemble’s first rehearsal. 
  • Students will clean high-touch surfaces such as music stands, chairs, door knobs, and light switches at the conclusion of rehearsals. The keys of any keyboard instrument used should be wiped down with the keyboard cleaning wipes that will be provided in the rehearsal space.

Conductors or their designate will determine a seating plan for rehearsal that clearly defines:

  • Assigned student locations, which remain the same for the entire rehearsal. 
  • Entry/exit locations
  • Schedule for arrival that seats participants efficiently
  • Furniture may be moved to the conductor’s preferred location prior to rehearsal, provided the individuals sanitize before and after moving the furniture. 

Jazz Ensembles

Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Band

Auditions will take place for any student participating in a jazz ensemble. Due to the size of the jazz ensembles (18-20 students), full rehearsals, in a physically distanced manner will occur. The rhythm section and director will wear face coverings for the duration of the rehearsal. Rehearsals for full Jazz Orchestra and subgroups will be 30 minutes in length. Rehearsals for full Jazz Band will be 60 minutes with the first 30 minutes dedicated to non-aerosolized jazz instruction (e.g. improvisation, listening, history, theory); the remaining time will be for playing. If you have questions or need more information, contact Tony Guzmán or Jon Ailabouni

Wind Ensembles / Bands

Concert Band, Winds & Percussion, and Varsity Band

Placement auditions will take place for any student participating in a concert band ensemble. Programming and selection of repertoire will be informed by the most up-to-date research. Ensembles will rehearse in a variety of configurations, including full ensemble and small ensembles/sections (while practicing proper physical distancing). The conductor and percussionists will wear face coverings at all times. Wind and brass players will wear face coverings unless playing. Rehearsals will not exceed thirty minutes in length. If you have questions or need more information, contact Cory Near

Orchestras

Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra

Placement auditions will take place for any student participating in an orchestra, and will include winds, brasses, percussionists, and strings. Programming decisions and selection of repertoire will be informed by the most up-to-date research. It is possible that strings and winds/brasses may not be combined during fall semester. If conditions of health and safety allow, it may be possible to program repertoire using strings with modest wind forces. Strings, percussionists and conductor will wear face coverings at all times. Wind and brass players will wear face coverings unless playing. Rehearsals will not exceed sixty minutes in length. If you have questions or need more information, contact Daniel Baldwin

Philharmonia

If Philharmonia reaches its expected size of 25-30 string players, full rehearsals in a physically-distanced manner will occur. Students and conductor will wear face coverings at all times. Rehearsals will not exceed sixty minutes in length.

If Philharmonia proves to be a larger group than expected, full rehearsals will not occur, and Philharmonia will be split into smaller groups or chamber groups instead. If you have questions or need more information, contact Spencer Martin

Choral Ensembles

In the fall of 2020, Luther College will field the five choirs we typically do each year: Nordic Choir, Collegiate Chorale, Cathedral Choir, Aurora, and Norskkor. Because we understand the role of choir in the lives of our students and value the health of all, we have addressed the four pillars of risk mitigation (ventilation, spacing, masking and hygiene) while still finding a way to sing together. Though rehearsal protocols, locations, frequency, and duration may look different, we are thrilled to begin singing in community once again.

Students singing in choir are asked to acquire two singer's face masks (see below in Student Equipment Needs), preferably with ties rather than ear loops. Ensembles will use quarter zips as their official concert attire rather than robes. Orders for quarter zips will be taken in October.

General guidelines for choral ensemble rehearsals are as follows: 

  • Ensembles will utilize outdoor rehearsal venues whenever possible. 
  • If outdoors, singers will orient themselves so that the wind is at their back. 
  • Face coverings (preferably singer face masks) must be worn by conductor and singers at all times whether indoors or outdoors. 
  • An additional face shield is optional for the conductor (and accompanist(s), if applicable).
  • The conductor will wear a personal amplification device to decrease the need to speak loudly, thereby reducing aerosol production.
  • Singers will be arranged so that they have 7.5-12’ spacing in all directions. 
  • Singers should face the conductor at all times.
  • Indoor rehearsals will not exceed thirty minutes per grouping of students.
  • Outdoor rehearsals will not exceed sixty minutes per grouping of students. 
  • The general practice at Luther College is that choir students hold hands while performing. This year, students will not hold hands during rehearsals or performances. 
  • Ensemble conductors will determine best practices about whether folder cabinets will be used, with the goal of efficient traffic flow. These procedures will be shared with students at the ensemble’s first rehearsal. 
  • Students will clean high-touch surfaces such as music stands, chairs, door knobs, and light switches at the conclusion of rehearsals. The keys of any keyboard instrument used should be wiped down with the keyboard cleaning wipes that will be provided in the rehearsal space.

Conductors or their designate will determine a seating plan for rehearsal that clearly defines:

  • Assigned student locations, which will remain the same for the entire rehearsal. 
  • Entry/exit locations
  • Schedule for arrival that seats participants efficiently
  • Furniture may be moved to the conductor’s preferred location prior to rehearsal, provided the individuals sanitize before and after moving the furniture.

If you have questions or need more information, contact Andrew Last

Ensemble Rehearsal Schedule

The October rehearsal schedule and the November-January rehearsal schedules are available below via Google Sheets links. There are multiple tabs that will allow students to examine the overarching plan for all large ensembles, as well as view each individual daily schedule of ensemble rehearsals. The terms “Sub” and “Subgroups” refer to small groupings of students from the indicated ensemble. The term “Extra Times” refers to areas labeled BU (Back Up) in the schedule. These times may be used in the event of inclement weather or occasional indoor sectionals

October Rehearsal Schedule

November-January Rehearsal Schedule

If students have a class conflict with their ensemble rehearsals, they should notify their ensemble conductor as soon as possible. Students will not be penalized in any way for overlapping class and rehearsal schedules.

Music Scholarships

Students must enroll in and successfully complete applied lessons and a large ensemble to maintain scholarship awards. 

  • Students may request virtual lessons to complete their lesson requirement. Faculty must accommodate students who make the request to complete lessons virtually.
  • All ensembles have been charged with implementing numerous safety protocols and following the guidelines of national health experts. Should a student not be comfortable with those safety protocols, they should communicate with one of the ensemble conductors PRIOR to the audition process and discuss alternatives for fulfilling the ensemble requirement for the music scholarship.
  • If students have a class conflict with their ensemble rehearsals, they should notify their ensemble conductor as soon as possible. Students will not be penalized in any way for overlapping class and rehearsal schedules. 
  • Please note that there are alternatives to large ensemble participation for pianists and organists. More information can be found in the Music Department Student Guidelines.

If you have questions or need more information, contact Andrew Last.

Performances

Ensembles

The decision to allow public performances will at all times be informed by conditions of health and safety, and by the decisions and judgment of President Ward and the Cabinet. Dress rehearsals and performances will take place according to the Music Department Calendar. Whenever possible, performances will be live-streamed and free for all virtual audiences. 

Instrumental Ensembles

Large instrumental ensembles will perform for live-streamed audiences in the Main Hall of the Center for Faith and Life. All live-streamed performances are hosted here. Instrumental ensemble performances held in the CFL will not exceed sixty minutes duration.

Choral Ensembles

There are no public performances with live audiences scheduled for choral ensembles during the fall semester. Christmas at Luther 2020 will occur in a virtual format. More information and details about Christmas at Luther will be released in mid-September.

Recitals

Student Recitals

Degree Recitals

  • Student recitals will be scheduled exclusively on weekends to allow use of the NRH as a teaching space during the week. No more than four recitals will be scheduled per day, at noon, 3 pm, 6 pm, and 9 pm. 
  • Where possible, shared recitals will be split into separate recitals.
  • Audience members will be limited to the studio teacher and a limited number of family members invited by the recitalist, with a cap of 15 individuals. 
  • Authorized guests should be directed to enter through one entryway, and proceed directly to the Noble Recital Hall. Authorized guests should not leave the Noble Recital Hall, unless it is to use the Jenson-Noble public restrooms. 
  • No receptions, receiving lines or other social gatherings will be permitted. 
  • All on-campus recitals will be live-streamed here at no cost to the student recitalist.  

General Recitals

  • General Recitals will be virtual events, with recordings and room reservations made by the performing students themselves.
  • Performances will be shared on KATIE, and removed no later than two weeks following the recital.

Faculty Recitals

Faculty recitals will be handled in the same manner as student degree recitals.

Practice Rooms and Rehearsal Spaces
  • Practice rooms will operate on a strict schedule, on a pre-arranged, reservation basis.
  • You can sign up to use a practice room by accessing the link emailed to you by Tara Quass in the music office.
  • Practice rooms will remain empty for thirty minutes between occupants to allow for adequate air exchange.
  • Students may not use any practice room or rehearsal space unless they have reserved the space through the protocol that is developed and shared with them. 
  • If a student reserves a practice room and no longer needs that room, they must cancel their reservation so that the room may be used by someone else.
  • Students who use the practice rooms will spray and wipe down music stands, chairs, light switches, and door handles when entering and vacating a practice room.
  • The keys of any keyboard instrument used should be wiped down with the keyboard cleaning wipes that will be provided in every practice room hallway. Students will follow this protocol when entering and vacating a practice room. 
  • Students who participate in rehearsals of any kind--e.g. Chamber music, recital preparation with a collaborative pianist--will clean high-touch surfaces such as music stands, chairs, door knobs, and light switches at the conclusion of rehearsals. The keys of any keyboard instrument used should be wiped down with the keyboard cleaning wipes that will be provided in the rehearsal space.
  • Students will not be permitted to practice in their residence hall rooms.
  • For questions, reach out to Tara Quass.
Recital Attendance Requirements

Music majors will be required to attend eight recitals to complete the attendance requirement for fall 2020. (This is a reduction from the standard requirement of twelve events.) Students will attend recitals virtually by watching a live-stream hosted here. At least six of the performances are required to be Luther College events. Up to two events may be from off-campus.

Student Equipment Needs

General Student Needs

Students enrolled in theory, ear training, and/or class piano are encouraged to bring an electronic keyboard to have in their residence hall room. Ideally your keyboard should have:

  • At least 49 keys (4 octaves); 61 or higher is better
  • “Piano style” keys – that is, full size, comparable to an acoustic instrument (avoid mini keys or synth keys)
  • Responsive keys: Good: velocity or touch sensitive; Better: semi-weighted; Best: weighted
  • On-board sounds, as opposed to a purely midi controller, which must be routed through a computer or other device
  • A usb port in case you want to use the keyboard with software
  • The ability to plug in a sustain pedal
  • If you are tech-savvy, you might consider purchasing a midi-controller rather than one of the keyboards mentioned above. There are many brands available at different price points; the drawback is that you need good, reliable software in order to use a device like this.
  • Listed below are three keyboard options to consider, but you are welcome to bring any comparable keyboard: Casio Casiotone CT-S200 ($120); Casio Casiotone LK-S250 ($170); Alesis Concert Xus ($250)
  • If you have questions or need more information, contact Brooke Joyce.

Students enrolled in theory, ear training, and/or class piano are encouraged to bring good-quality, closed headphones. Listed below are two options to consider, but you are welcome to bring any comparable headphones: Behringer HPS5000 ($30); Audio Technica ATH-M20x ($50). If you have questions or need more information, contact Brooke Joyce.

Area-Specific Needs

  • Brass
    • Each brass player will be required to ensure safety of others when emptying condensation that occurs during playing of their instrument(s). A 100% cotton towel is required for use while emptying condensation. Towels may not be shared, and students must bring enough towels that a clean towel can be used daily. Students must also bring a washable bag to store used towels in. Bags and towels should be washed weekly.
    • Horn: Hornists will be required to use bell covers and music masks. Rebecca Boehm Shaffer will be in contact with you regarding these requirements. Horn players should bring a music stand for possible outdoor lessons.
    • Trumpet: Trumpet students will be required to use bell covers and music masks. Evan Fowler or Jon Ailabouni will be in contact with you regarding these requirements.
    • Low Brass: Low brass players will be required to use bell covers and music masks. If you have questions or need more information, contact Michael Smith.
  • Composition
    • Composition students should bring a set of good-quality, closed headphones (see recommendations above). You may also want to consider bringing an electronic keyboard (see recommendations above). If you have questions or need more information, contact Brooke Joyce.
  • Keyboard
    • Organ: No special equipment is needed for organ students.
    • Piano: Pianists are encouraged to bring an electronic keyboard and headphones for use in your residence hall (see recommendations above). An external microphone is also encouraged for piano lessons. Listed below are two options to consider, but you are welcome to bring another comparable external microphone: Samson Meteor USB Condenser Microphone ($70); Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone ($149). If you have questions or need more information, contact Xiao Hu, Du Huang, or John Strauss.
  • Percussion
    • Percussionists will need to provide their own gear (sticks and mallets) to prevent the sharing of these items. If you have questions or need more information, contact Michael Geary.
  • Strings
    • No special equipment is needed for string instruments. 
  • Voice
    • For voice students, if you do not currently own a set of quality headphones, consider purchasing a semi-open design. These will be used for your voice lessons and other times when you need to sing with headphones on. For listening to music or practicing an electronic keyboard, you might want a second set of closed headphones or earbuds. Closed headphone options are listed above. Below is a recommendation for semi-open headphones: Philips Audio SHP9500 ($75)
    • In addition to good-quality headphones (see recommendations above), an external microphone is encouraged for voice lessons. Listed below are two options to consider, but you are welcome to bring another comparable external microphone: Samson Meteor USB Condenser Microphone ($70); Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone ($149)
    • An electronic keyboard may be helpful for applied voice students (see recommendations above).
    • If you have questions or need more information about any of the voice recommendations listed above, contact your applied lesson instructor. If you have not yet been assigned an instructor, contact Beth Ray Westlund with questions.
    • Students singing in choir are encouraged to acquire two singer’s face masks, preferably with ties rather than ear loops. The Luther Book Shop will be offering these singing masks for sale. When accounting for shipping costs, the price is the same as ordering directly from online retailers. The choral faculty encourages students to preorder singing masks via THIS LINK. Masks will be delivered to the bookstore on or around 9/21. If you have questions or need more information, contact Andrew Last with questions. 
  • Woodwinds
    • Flute: A slitted mask is required for all flute players. Flute players should also bring multiple handkerchiefs for flute swabbing so that they can be washed regularly. Flute players should bring a music stand for possible outdoor lessons. Carol Hester will be in contact with you for more details. If you have questions or need more information, contact Carol Hester.
    • Oboe: Heather Armstrong will be in contact with you about needs related to the oboe. Contact her for more information.
    • Bassoon: Thea Groth will be in contact with you about needs related to the bassoon. Contact her for more information.
    • Clarinet/Bass Clarinet: A bell cover and a mask with a mouth opening is required for all clarinet students. If you have questions or need more information, contact Michael Chesher.
    • Saxophone: A bell cover and a mask with a mouth opening is required for all saxophone students. If you have questions or need more information, contact Lynne Hart.
Christmas at Luther

Christmas at Luther 2020 will occur in a virtual format. Visit the Christmas at Luther website to register and learn more information. Reach out to Susan Potvin with questions.

Music Tours

In coordination with the CGL, the music marketing team and the music ensemble conductors have decided to suspend international touring for 2020-21. In addition, because of the many challenging factors related to the safety of domestic music tours and performances during the pandemic, all domestic tours for 2020-21 are also suspended. Later this semester, the music marketing office will communicate with music students about touring plans for 2021-22. Reach out to Susan Potvin with questions.