While everyone has had to adjust to the pandemic, the arts — because of the hands-on nature of the disciplines — might be more affected than most. The Art, Music and Theater faculty have had to adjust their teaching environments to create a safe space while maintaining the quality of education for the students.
“It has made teaching different,” Sue Lezon, chair of the art department, said “Teaching via Zoom made a huge difference in our teaching styles. When a professor looks at a student’s art project on Zoom, the artistic frame is quite different compared to looking at it directly in class. Art is a ‘hands-on’ discipline.”
Lezon expressed great gratitude and joy to the students and faculty who have been extremely responsible. Even though there are a lot of protocols, “The result is very rewarding”, she said.
Lezon also believes that we, as a campus, have mastered our teaching adaptation to the pandemic. She believes that even if the pandemic is still around in Fall 2021, we could still face it.
Dr. Karen Becker, the chair of the Music department, said the quality of her department’s teaching has not changed at all. Even though there are many more safety protocols to follow, which might be overwhelming for everyone, the faculty and students are committed to their passion for music. They take everyone’s safety seriously. She also expressed her pride in our university because not many schools could afford to stay open like us.
“Thanks to the fact that we have respected the mask policy and social distancing, we have been able to make it this far,” Becker said. “It has been extremely difficult to support students’ live performances. However, the Music department created a virtual performance called Fall 2020 Music Extravaganza. I’m very hopeful and optimistic about the future”, Becker said. “I believe in our community.”
She is planning on doing a “Karen Becker and Friends” performance by the end of April 2021.
“If there are spring sports, why can we not have spring music?” Becker said.
Becker said the music department will try its best to have the Fall 2021 semester as “normal” as possible, but is confident that we would still thrive even if the pandemic were still around.
Erika Guay, Associate Professor of Theater, said the biggest challenge has been not being able to plan.
Usually, the Theater department would have the Fall 2021 semester fully planned out already. Guay said another challenge for the theater students is the lack of audience interaction. “You don’t get to talk to or hear from your audience,” Guay said. “Usually, you can see them laugh or cry but now it’s just the camera.”
With that said, helping students to adjust to a new norm is also a big challenge for the theater faculty. On the bright side, Guay said that while technology is a big challenge to traditional theatrical education, the faculty are constantly helping each other every day.
“It is impossible to recreate the program online,” Guay said. “But the support we have for each other has helped a lot in our teaching.”
For now, the Theater department is waiting for new guidelines because New York state has allowed limited live performances to resume in April. Their plan is to get back to traditional performance as quickly but safely as possible.