With schools closed and parents adapting to home schooling their children, the University of Lethbridge Conservatory of Music is helping provide some normalcy at home as they quickly adapted their one-on-one music lessons to an online format. Since the closure of Casa and all in-person lessons, over 700 students have transitioned to online classes, keeping music in their homes during a difficult time.

“We wanted our instructors to be able to continue doing what they love, and have some financial stability during these uncertain times,” says Breeanne Fuller, Director of the uLethbridge Conservatory. “We were not sure how receptive our students would be, but the support from our private students and their families has been incredible.”

While the instructors acknowledge that in-person lessons are ideal, they agree that the new online, interim arrangement has been successful so far.

“I of course prefer the weekly in-person interactions with my students, but for now, these online lessons are a great substitute,” explains piano instructor Colleen Klassen. “They keep our students progressing and moving forward, and they provide consistency in our young student’s lives, when everything else around them has changed.”

Klassen teaches about 35 students a week at the Conservatory, and quickly adapted to online teaching using Zoom. “Music can be a source of comfort, and I think that’s something we all need right now” continues Klassen.

It didn’t take long to get conservatory instructors and their students up to speed on virtual lessons.

“I was amazed at how quickly the instructors researched online teaching and developed a plan to implement it,” shares Fuller. “Not only did they figure out the best way to schedule the lessons, but also the best ways to interact, share lesson plans, send sheet music and even record accompaniments.”

Because the COVID-19 pandemic is a global issue, musicians and educators are coming together from around the world forming alliances to assist each other in making this transition.

“Experts from all over the world are hosting free webinars and building Facebook groups to share resources,” continues Fuller. “It has been incredible to see the resiliency and positivity in our instructors locally, but also the sense of community among music teachers on a much larger scale.”

Music, and all creative and fine arts, play a role in comforting, healing and bringing peace during times of crisis.

“Providing over 700 students the ability to continue their love of music brings a new sense of joy to the students and the instructors – although we all look forward to seeing each other in person again soon,” says Fuller.

For more information about the Conservatory of Music and one-on-one music lessons, visit ulethbridge.ca/music-conservatory

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