Students in the UMKC Conservatory work with new learning methods

Hetty Bai

Most classes are online this semester at UMKC, with professors lecturing via Zoom and screen sharing their PowerPoint slides to students. For Conservatory students, the transition to online learning has come with unique difficulties. 

UMKC Conservatory graduate student Abbie Forlina’s band classes have moved to a traditional online classroom approach, rather than the students practicing their instruments.

“We’re not playing, but instead watching weekly talks our professors do with different professionals in the music community,” Forlina said. “For our grade, we submit questions we’d like our professors to ask based on that week’s topic and then respond to the recording of the talk by the end of the week.”

Professors have options for how to teach courses this semester, with some using a hybrid of online and in-person learning, and others opting for online-only instruction. 

However, some students, like music education major Sarah Scott, have had their classes completely cancelled.

“It’s rough because the classes I take aren’t meant to be online, but they’re too risky to do in person,” Scott said.

Even classes that meet in person have not been the same.

For students with lessons and practice sessions on campus, practice rooms are now scheduled for regularly occurring “dead times,” which cleans out the rooms’ air.

After rehearsals and practice sessions, new campus policies require students to sanitize anything they touch.

Performance major Matthew Roxas has lessons which alternate from in person to online every other week.

“When the lockdown began, it was a little difficult to adjust to online learning, but I eventually got used to it,” Roxas said.

Although these changes are not ideal, both students and faculty are doing their best to adjust to online learning, sometimes through a process of trial and error.

Trumpet professor Keith Benjamin has had to deal with technology reliability while transitioning his lessons online.

“Some people have internet issues, and others have equipment, microphones, mostly, that are really not conducive to trumpet playing, but we’re working on fixing those,” professor Benjamin said.

Even though online instruction seems like the new norm, students and faculty have expressed wishes for in-person classes to resume when it is once again safe.

“I do miss teaching in person a lot,” professor Benjamin said. “We’re all primarily concerned, I think, with the safety factor.”

This hasn’t been the semester everyone predicted, and students seem to miss the camaraderie of campus most.

“Grant Hall used to be so loud, annoyingly so at times, but I’d give anything to see everyone sitting together laughing, practicing, and even napping together,” Scott said. “It doesn’t feel like home, and I want it back.

[email protected]