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School of Music COVID-19 Updates

To all members of the School of Music community,  

As we begin the academic year, I want to assure you the School of Music is fully committed to providing the best possible musical education and learning environment for our students - alongside a steadfast and resolute commitment to the safety, health, and welfare of our students. staff, and faculty. Our central goal is to provide the richest possible curricular experiences for our music students this Fall semester, in accordance and compliance with the latest directives and guidelines from the Governor, Centers for Disease Control, Minnesota Department of Health, and the University (please see the Safe Campus website).

I am enormously grateful to our excellent staff and members of the School of Music ad-hoc COVID-19 Committee (SoM Executive Committee), who all have dedicated a great deal of time and energy over the summer to advise me on the following protocol and strategies for the coming year.

Post-Thanksgiving Operations 

Per the Maroon & Gold Sunrise Plan, all courses, lessons, and activities should be conducted online after Thanksgiving. The School of Music will not schedule post-Thanksgiving facility access or reservations - including recitals - until we have further guidance from the Provost’s Office. Please make your plans with the assumption that campus may be closed after Thanksgiving, and that spaces like the practice rooms and recital facilities may not be available. We will provide an update about this situation when there's new guidance from the University leadership.  

Curricular Delivery and Protocol

Academic Classes

Academic Classes (lectures, graduate seminars, etc.) will be offered virtually, blended, or in-person based on instructor and student preferences, and classroom physical distancing capacities. The classroom instructor can exclusively determine that their lecture classes are to be delivered remotely, and in the case of in-person classes, all student requests for remote classroom instruction, grading, and testing must be honored. Synchronous and asynchronous virtual technology will be utilized to assure distanced delivery of courses as requested and necessary, including to our international student population. The instructor’s preferred mode of curricular delivery will be noted in our online course catalog, and instructors will be in touch with students regarding fall semester plans.  Absolutely no in-person instruction is to take place off-campus at any time.

Applied Lessons

Applied lessons for instrumentalists, pianists, and organists will be delivered remotely (via Zoom, FaceTime, or other mutually agreed upon media platform), in-person, or through a combination/hybrid of these two modes depending on instructor and student preferences, and facility physical distancing capacity. Instructors can exclusively determine that all lessons in their respective applied studios are to be delivered remotely. Students should contact their studio instructor directly to determine how their lessons will take place. For those instructors delivering lessons in-person, any student requests for remote applied instruction must be honored. The School of Music is closely monitoring peer-reviewed studies and consulting medical experts with regard to wind and brass instruments. These studies and consultations will be taken into account in providing the most up-to-date mitigation strategies and safety measures for any in-person lessons that take place. Applied instructors and students should contact each other in advance of the fall semester to determine mode of instruction, scheduling, and location. Applied instructors planning to use alternative locations for applied lessons should make space reservations through the space reservation request process on the School of Music Intranet (UMN account required). Supportive audio and video equipment will be provided to the greatest degree possible in Ferguson Hall applied studios and larger spaces as available to maximize teaching options for students and faculty, especially for those students who do not have adequate access to high-speed internet services and appropriate instruments.  Absolutely no in-person instruction is to take place off-campus at any time.

Applied Voice Studios, Choral Ensembles, and Opera

Applied voice studios, choral ensembles, and opera are committed to remotely delivering lessons, rehearsals, and curriculum to begin the Fall 2020 semester for the time being. There will be continuing consultation with medical experts and the latest peer reviewed studies to determine what the School of Music can safely provide in terms of an appropriately physically distanced in-person or hybrid curricular experience for the fall semester. You will be updated, and your vocal, choral, or opera professors will be in touch with students regarding plans, scheduling, and other protocol. Instructors may exclusively determine that their curriculum is to be delivered remotely, and all student requests for continuing remote delivery of curriculum in these areas must be honored. Absolutely no off-campus, in-person instruction is to occur at any time.

Chamber Music, World Music, and Percussion Ensembles

Chamber music, world music, and percussion ensembles will take place in-person, remotely, or a combination of these two modes based on instructor and student preferences, and distanced facility capacities. Instructors may exclusively decide to coach their groups remotely. Those instructors who choose to coach in-person must accommodate requests from groups or individual students who request remote instruction. Off-campus, in-person coaching is strictly forbidden.

Class Piano and Keyboard Skills

Class piano and keyboard skills will take place in-person, remotely, or a combination of these two modes based on instructor and student preferences. Given the limited physical distancing capacity of the Ferguson Hall keyboard lab, a likely scenario will be to form two pools of students per section of class piano or keyboard skills. With two classes weekly, each pool of students will alternate in-class and synchronous instructional delivery. Instructors may exclusively decide to teach their classes remotely, and all students who request remote instruction will be accommodated. A limited number of digital keyboards will be made available to students on a first-come, first-serve basis for those students who do not have personal access to a keyboard. Instructors will be in touch with their respective sections before the fall semester begins to outline relevant protocols and plans. Absolutely no off-campus, in-person instruction is to occur at any time. 

Large Instrumental Ensembles

Auditioned instrumental ensembles in the School of Music plan to follow a hybrid learning model. As mandated by the University, classes will begin online for undergraduate students. The Ensemble Office will contact graduate students to help determine the format and plan for the beginning of the semester. Any in-person activities will be modified to meet facility physical distancing capacities and mandated health protocols. The audition deadline is 8:00 am on Monday, August 31 (see audition submission instructions). Campus Orchestra plans to follow a hybrid learning model. As mandated by the University, classes will begin online for undergraduate students. Campus Bands will meet online. All student requests for remote instruction are to be accommodated. No rehearsals or performances are to take place off-campus.

Music Education

For music education, field experience is a critical component of learning to teach and required by state licensing rules. There are still many unknowns about how field experience will be addressed. The music education faculty will be in touch with music education students as the situation unfolds. In the meantime, if you have an urgent question, please feel free to reach out to Dr. Hamann via email at

Music History Placement Exam

As in past years, all incoming graduate students must take the music history diagnostic exam during Welcome Week. This year, however, the multiple choice exam will be online. The exam will still be a timed one, but to accommodate students' varying time zones, students will be given a 24-hour window in which they may take it.

Music Theory Entrance Exams

Due to concerns about social distancing and on-line test security, the Theory division will administer entrance exams the first Tuesday afternoon/evening of the spring semester (Jan. 19, 2021), rather than during Welcome Week. Please see the School of Music Intranet* for a detailed description of exam preparation tools, expectations, and courses.  *You must be logged into your UMN account to view this page.

Music Therapy

The music therapy faculty are committed to providing a rigorous education to their students. Dr. Silverman and Professor Schwartzberg will touch base with all music therapy students. Please direct any questions about the modality of music therapy course delivery to Dr. Silverman, Director of Music Therapy, at

School of Music Welcome Week

View the 2020 Welcome Week Schedule*. Graduate students are encouraged to view the New Student/Welcome Week Videos available on the School of Music Intranet*.

*You must be logged into your UMN email account to view these documents.

Student Recitals

Student recitals will continue to be scheduled and take place throughout the fall semester until Thanksgiving.  As usual, student recitals are to be scheduled by the standard recital booking process as outlined on the School of Music Intranet (UMN account required for access). Live-streaming is available in the recital hall using the 1:Button recording system. Because of increased demand for Ultan Recital Hall this semester, some recitals may need to be in other spaces in Ferguson Hall.  Recording or live streaming equipment will need to be provided by the user in these other spaces.

Ferguson Hall will not be open to the public, and as such, student recitals will not be open for public attendance.  

Due to the large number of high-velocity aerosolized particles produced, in-person audiences will not be permitted for voice and flute recitals. Grading instructors may attend voice and flute recitals, but the maximum possible physical distance should be observed between the performer(s) and the grading instructors. For recitals other than voice and flute, attendance is limited to UMN faculty, staff, and pre-approved guests of the student giving the recital (such as parents, siblings, or caregivers) up to a total limit of six people. The student giving the recital must request approval of the six guests as part of the recital request process outlined on the School of Music Intranet. The student is responsible for bringing their guests into the building and informing guests of all University policies, including social distancing and face-covering requirements.

  • All wind instrumentalists and vocalists should observe the maximum physical distancing possible, preferably 10 feet or more between the musicians. 
  • The recital hall will be cleaned once per day, and sanitization supplies will be available backstage for the users of the hall.
  • Recital receptions are not permitted under any circumstances.

Ferguson Hall Access and Protocol

Administrative Offices & Staff

We have prepared a variety of virtual modalities that will enable a wide and timely range of services to the SoM community.

 The majority of administrative staff members will be working remotely, with a rotating contingent of individuals onsite.

Applied Studios

For those faculty and students conducting in-person lessons, physical distancing of at least 6 feet minimum must be maintained at all times.  
Instructors should wipe down high-touch surfaces between lessons (sanitization supplies will be provided for teaching studios). Instructors are encouraged to schedule time between each private lesson whenever possible, in order for the air to circulate and refresh to the greatest degree possible between lessons.  
Voice and flute lessons should be delivered remotely, outdoors, or in a very large space with maximum physiical distance, due to the large amount of high-velocity aerosolized particles that are produced by these activities. All wind instrumentalists and vocalists should observe the maximum physical distance possible, preferably 10 feet or more. Voice and flute instructors will be in touch with their students with regard to their specific plans for the fall semester. 

Building Hours for Ferguson Hall

Ferguson Hall will be accessible to all University students, faculty, and staff with an active U-card, but will not be open to the general public. An active U-Card will be necessary in order to swipe into the building during University hours (6:00am - Midnight, daily), and there will be no unlocked public hours. Though security patrols and University of Minnesota Police will be monitoring campus facilities, Ferguson Hall security is nonetheless the joint and shared responsibility of our community. Please ensure that you do not allow unauthorized people into Ferguson Hall or Ted Mann Concert Hall. Those who willfully violate this mandate will have their U-Card Ferguson Hall access privileges revoked, and other disciplinary action may result

Classrooms and Computer Lab

All classroom capacities have been reduced to allow for 6-feet physical distancing, in line with the Office of Classroom Management’s guidelines. The room capacity will be posted on the door, and some seating may be marked or pre-set to indicate 6-feet social distancing. All classrooms and the computer lab will be cleaned once per day Monday - Friday. Sanitization supplies will be available in every classroom for use throughout the day as needed.  

Common Areas

Furniture in the common areas of the building will be reduced and/or reorganized to facilitate physical distancing. Students are allowed to use common areas for the internet necessary to attend remote classes if they are following physical distancing guidelines. Students in common areas should use headphones or earbuds to be considerate of others using the space. Facilities Management is providing enhanced cleaning services for public areas, and restrooms. Details are available here:

Instrument Lockers

Students enrolled in music courses will be able to rent instrument lockers by filling out a request form on the School of Music Intranet (UMN account required). Lockers will not be available to students who are not enrolled in music classes.  

Music Library

The Music Library (located in the basement of Ferguson Hall) will be temporarily closed, but all of our materials - books, scores, recordings and more - are still available to borrowers. For updated information on accessing University Libraries materials, services, and spaces, visit our Using the Libraries during COVID-19 page. For help with research, reference, or other Libraries-related questions, please contact Jessica Abbazio, Music Librarian, at  

Offices and Teaching Studios

Meetings must be done virtually to the greatest extent possible. This includes all student meetings, instructor office hours, and advising sessions.
Faculty, staff, and TA’s must pay special attention to bring their office and studio keys to campus. Individuals who forget to bring keys will be referred to the Facilities Management phone line to place a service request. 
The Facilities Management custodial crew will continue to perform regular cleaning in offices and teaching studios, which include dusting, spot wiping, and vacuuming.  Neither FM nor the School of Music are able to provide frequent disinfection of these spaces. Office and teaching studio occupants are encouraged to clean and disinfect surfaces in their space as needed. Cleaning materials will be provided to each teaching studio, and can be made available upon request for private offices.  
Offices with reception desks or other high-traffic areas will be provided with protective shielding at employee workstations. 

NOTE:  Office/studio waste bins will no longer be emptied or cleaned by custodians. The office occupant will be expected to empty their office waste into the appropriate hallway bin, beginning Summer 2020.  Ferguson Hall is transitioning to organics recycling (composting).  Organic waste bins will be available in all public trash areas.  All University buildings are being transitioned to this new system over several years. To offset the increased labor involved in collecting compost material, office waste must now be bussed to hallway receptacles by the office occupant.  

Outdoor Spaces

Outdoor spaces may be used for instruction, including the Ferguson/Ted Mann plaza, Ferguson Hall amphitheater, and Ted Mann Concert Hall loading dock as weather permits. Physical distancing will still be required in these spaces, and reservations must be made in through the Student Services Office via the reservation instructions available on the School of Music Intranet (UMN account required for viewing).

Personal Protective Equipment

The governor has mandated that face masks be worn in all shared indoor spaces on campus, and the University is providing 2 reusable cotton masks to each employee. These masks will be obtained by the department and placed in employee mailboxes. The University will contact students regarding University-provided PPE directly. Face shields are also recommended, and the SoM will also be purchasing a number of strategically placed high-quality air purifiers and hand sanitation stations as enhanced mitigation strategies in studios, classrooms, and rehearsal and performance spaces.

Practice Rooms

Practice Rooms will be available beginning September 8th.  Due to the recent changes to campus move-in dates and in-person instruction, the practice room hours are yet to be determined. The most up-to-date information about the practice room hours is always posted on the School of Music Intranet (UMN login required). Priority will be given to music majors, though music majors are strongly encouraged to utilize off-campus practice options to the greatest extent possible, given facility physical distancing limitations, and the need to maximize the de-densification of Ferguson Hall.
In an effort to reduce the risk of airborne virus transmission, all practice rooms will sit empty for a period of time between users in order for the ventilation system to cycle fresh air into the space before the next user. The length of time will depend on the number of air changes per hour for the given space’s ventilation system. In order to enforce this policy, all practice rooms will only be accessible by obtaining a key from the monitor station. No students will be given direct u-card access to the practice rooms. The monitor will track the break times in each space.  
All keys and other items distributed by the monitor station staff will be disinfected after each use.  
All practice rooms will be cleaned once per day. Additional disinfectant will be available at the practice room monitor station for students who request it, and all users will be reminded to observe good hygiene when using the practice rooms: washing hands before and after use, avoiding face-touching, and wearing face coverings to the greatest extent possible. 
In order to minimize the amount of contact students have in each space, piano majors may be assigned a specific practice room, which they will share with a few other students.  Schedules for these rooms may be arranged between the students assigned to the rooms.  
No more than one student will be allowed in a practice room at a time.

Ted Mann Concert Hall

As a large venue that hosts public audiences, the concert Hall will be guided by a state-mandated and approved COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, which defines policies and procedures for social distancing, individual health monitoring, hygiene, cleaning, audience communications, and employee protection. These guidelines will be in line with MN Department of Health, CDC, and University policies. The plan can be made available upon request. We are still in the process of determining how to best accommodate public audiences in TMCH.  


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) have issued guidance for operating HVAC systems while pandemic conditions exist. A special work group reviewed this guidance and developed a list of strategies that can reduce the potential for airborne transmission of SARS-COV-2 in University facilities. The School of Music's air handling equipment will be operated based on the strategies developed by this group, and the School of Music will work with Facilities Management, Energy Management, and other campus partners to ensure our air handling infrastructure is operating as effectively as possible.    

It has truly been a challenging time on numerous fronts, but I continue to be moved and greatly heartened by how resilient our community has been in the face of this uncertainty and adversity. Your creativity, heart, talent, and dedication has given me more confidence than ever in our collective ability to overcome the challenges we are facing, and to take the School of Music to even greater heights of prominence and accomplishment.

It is critical that we collectively commit as a community to the School of Music, University, and State mandates and guidelines. It is not only about consideration for the health and welfare of our colleagues in the School of Music - but also about protecting our loved ones at home, and the more vulnerable members of our society. You are all required to abide by these guidelines, which will be strictly enforced at all times in Ferguson Hall and Ted Mann Concert Hall. Any violation of these mandated guidelines may result in the revoking of Ferguson Hall access privileges, and other disciplinary action as warranted.

I know the above is a lot of information to digest. My aim is to keep you informed to the greatest extent possible given the shifting landscape, and as always, the health and safety of our awesome SoM community will always be the primary guiding principle. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have. I am truly looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the School of Music this fall, and you have my complete commitment, and the full commitment of SoM faculty and staff to continue providing the best possible educational experience and service we can come this Fall and beyond. It continues to be my privilege to serve all of you, and many thanks for your continued patience and grace.


Michael Kim, DMA
Director & Professor