By Amy Matzke-Fawcett

While Old Dominion University students learn remotely, how have hands-on classes made the shift?

In the College of Arts & Letters, faculty have taken to creative solutions, and the F. Ludwig Diehn School of Music took online learning into its own hands: by partnering with the Norfolk Public Schools, they were able to provide keyboards to the University's music students, allowing them to continue their lessons.

Music students are required to take multiple semesters of piano, so finding ways to access keyboards was critical. They've also worked to loan out string basses and cellos to students who use instruments in the Diehn Performing Arts building, finding safe ways for students whose instruments were in the building to collect them, and navigating teaching online.

"I have delivered keyboards to students and faculty and have purchased and shipped keyboards to students that lived too far away to get one from us," said Nancy Klein, director of the School of Music. "'Zooming' for lessons is really difficult. It can work well for a regular classroom, but teaching applied music lessons is a kinesthetic event. The body and breath, and posture and hand position are all critical."

But technology has also allowed students to participate in long-distance events, including sending videos to competitions that are being held remotely. The University had three competitors in the regional National Association of Teachers of Singing in Charlotte, N.C.

"We had to get all three students into the building, following guidelines, find an accompanist and record each one of the three on their repertoire," Klein said. "We then had to send the video footage to NATS for the competition. Amazingly all three placed either first or second in their categories regionally and are now eligible to compete at nationals."

Of course, that requires more video coordination. But it's led to unexpected learning opportunities and led faculty of very traditional subject matters into the world of technology.

"I have watched the faculty truly band together to support each other through this," Klein said. "I am also encouraged to see our students connecting with each other and realizing how much they love being in the School of Music and miss learning and interacting with each other."

Students are also turning online to perform, including the Diehn Chorale, which recorded a version of the ODU alma mater. Student and faculty performers alike are also posting their work on social media with the hashtag #ODUatHome.

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