COVID-19 and Online Learning Updates

Instructions for Using Zoom (students)

If you and your teacher decide to use the Zoom platform for remote learning, here are some quick and easy instructions for downloading Zoom and accepting a meeting invitation. Administrative staff are also available to provide technical support (call 781-721-2950 or email us). Faculty are being advised on best practices for optimizing Zoom settings for logistics and security.

Best Practices for Videotaping a Home Recital

If your teacher is organizing a virtual studio recital and the students will be pre-recording their performances, here are some tips for sound, lighting, and setting up for success.


Current Updates

May 22, 2020

Dear members of the WCMS community,

As our spring semester draws to a close, we're heartened and inspired by all of the hard work done by our teachers and students to continue their music education online. We know it isn't ideal or easy, but this phase won't last forever. And we have heard many wonderful testimonials from families about how glad they are to continue their relationship with the school and continue their students' musical development.

We will return to teaching in the building when it is safe to do so from a public health perspective. As of now, our plan is to re-open in person for the Fall Semester, with modifications as needed to meet local and state health guidelines. It is a work in progress, so we appreciate your understanding and ongoing support.

Summer Programs: Given the manifest challenges and uncertain timing of the Massachusetts phased re-opening plan, our summer offerings will be completely online. Online private lessons can be scheduled June through August in many instruments, plus we are developing online versions of our Summer Piano Festival and Summer Chamber Music Festival. More programs might be in the works as well. Submit an inquiry for online summer lessons, and stay tuned for more details on other offerings.

Fall Semester: We are enrolling now for Fall Semester private lessons. Our plan is to open our building to students and faculty insofar as possible, with modifications that meet local and state health guidelines. New students interested in Fall Semester private lessons should submit an inquiry. Returning students should re-enroll by May 31 to reserve their lesson slot; our refund policy is flexible in case you need to make a change later. Current students should submit a change/drop request if they want to modify their lesson (new time/day, teacher, or length of lesson) or to withdraw from a lesson. Financial aid is available.

Registration Help Desk: Questions? Ask our registrar! Samara Martin will be hosting a virtual Help Desk via Zoom next week at the following times. Please email Samara for the Zoom link or to ask any registration questions.

  • Tuesday, May 26, 3:00 - 6:00 pm
  • Wednesday, May 27, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
  • Thursday, May 28, 3:00 - 6:00 pm
  • Friday, May 29, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

If you need anything at all from the faculty or staff at WCMS, please feel free to reach out. We may be working remotely, but we are available by email and by phone at 781-721-2950.

Stay safe, stay well, and stay musical!


April 30, 2020
Message from Executive Director Laurie Russell

Dear members of the WCMS community,

Our WCMS facility is currently closed to the public until at least Monday, May 18, and remote learning will continue during this time. WCMS will continue to follow the guidance of state and local officials about public health safety in regards to the potential of reopening our building to the public. We are also evaluating our options for summer programming. If you would like to offer your input, please share your ideas by taking this survey.

At this time, our plan is to teach the fall semester in our building, but we will pivot to remote learning if public health deems it necessary to do so. Current private lesson students may re-enroll for the fall semester as of May 1. We welcome inquiries for new students at any time. You can learn more and submit an online lesson inquiry here.


March 31, 2020
Message from Executive Director Laurie Russell

Dear members of the WCMS community,

WCMS is currently closed to the public until at least Monday, May 4. I hope you are safe and well during this unprecedented time. Thank you for adapting and evolving with WCMS over the past two weeks. Our devoted teaching artists and admin staff have been working tirelessly to quickly evolve the school’s offerings to distance learning. We are adapting to new ways of leveraging technology to keep the music playing and to offer you continuity in learning. I realize that not everything is up and running yet, but we are trying our best to find more ways to do so soon. 

As WCMS continues to develop this new adventure in teaching and learning, we know that there will be bumps in the road. We are entering each other’s homes and lives in a more direct and visible way than ever before. We will make mistakes. We will try new ideas—some will fail, more will succeed. We ask for everyone’s flexibility, sense of humor, and willingness to try new things to help us all learn together. I foresee many moments for growth as distance learning offers new and connective experiences for our WCMS community. We are all in this situation together and if you have feedback or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any member of our admin staff to share your thoughts.

I want to offer my sincere appreciation for our amazing faculty. Over the past two weeks, they have reimagined how to deliver music lessons and classes and done so with grace and positivity. Music matters because it elevates society and connects people. WCMS may be physically closed, but we are keeping the music playing! We invite you to continue to connect with us through WCMS’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube channels. 

FAQs

Q:  How can I learn more about the technology of taking my lesson or class online?

A:  Please see the following guides for tips, suggestions, and ideas:

Q:  What if I get sick?

A:  As always, the health and safety of our community is our top priority. If you are sick and cannot take your lessons, please email the school and we will let your teacher know not to expect you.

Q:  Who should I contact if I am struggling with online learning?

A:  Your first point of contact should be our registrar, Samara Martin. Please email her directly or contact the admin staff by phone (781-721-2950) or by email. Our staff members are all available to support students as much as possible.


March 28, 2020

WCMS is currently closed to the public until at least Monday, May 4. We will continue to encourage and facilitate distance learning for as many of our offerings as possible. Many private lessons are now being taught remotely, as well as some group classes. For the remaining group classes, and for our ensembles and bands, we continue to explore online solutions.

  • Group Classes: If you are enrolled in a class which is not yet being offered online, your teacher or a WCMS staff member will reach out by early next week with an update about how class content will be delivered until WCMS is back open to the public. In the event that a class cannot be offered remotely, the teacher will make up as many sessions as possible once the school re-opens to the public. Refunds/credits will be issued for any sessions which cannot be made up.
  • Ensembles: We are currently researching options to see how we might be able to take ensemble rehearsals remote during this time. Some ensembles have already begun working on their own creative solutions—but if not, you should hear from your ensemble coach or a WCMS staff member by the middle of next week with an update on whether remote rehearsals during this time are a possibility. Similar to group classes, if an ensemble cannot be offered remotely, the coach will make up as many rehearsals as possible once WCMS re-opens to the public and refunds/credits will be issued for any rehearsals which cannot be made up.

Thank you for your patience while we work as quickly as possible to move as much instruction as possible to online platforms.


March 19, 2020

WCMS is currently closed to the public through at least Monday, April 6. We will continue to encourage and facilitate distance learning for our private lesson and group class students (as  arranged directly with teachers), and to provide further updates as soon as possible. Please feel free to reach out to our staff for resources or assistance (we are working remotely): 781-721-2950 or email us.


March 13, 2020
Message from Executive Director Laurie Russell

Dear members of the WCMS community,

WCMS has made the decision to close to the public as of today, Friday, March 13 and remain closed through at least Saturday, March 28. This aligns with the actions of many of our local schools, other organizations in our area, and recommendations from State and Local government officials. We hope that supporting one another during these unprecedented times will help serve the greater good in our community.

What does this mean for you?

Private and Semi-Private Lesson students: WCMS would like to provide as much continuity as possible for its students and faculty while you are practicing social distancing. We know that you may be looking for activities to fill up your time at home. The school is supporting distance learning via video conferencing. Your lesson teacher will reach out to you directly in the next few days to communicate about online learning. We realize that remote lessons will be new for many of you and the experience will be different from your in-person lessons at WCMS. We ask for your patience as you and your teacher work together in this new learning environment. WCMS is working with the Zoom video platform and the administrative staff can help support it. However, you are welcome to discuss other video conferencing options (e.g. FaceTime or Skype) with your teacher. Those who choose not to take advantage of distance learning will be on a hiatus from lessons, which will be made up either during April break or at the end of the school year.

Group Class Students: All group classes are on hiatus through and including Saturday, March 28. We intend to make up these classes either during April break or at the end of the school year. Going forward, if we need to be closed longer term, our faculty and staff will look to develop plans to continue your learning in new and creative ways.

Ensembles and Bands: All ensembles and bands are on hiatus through and including Saturday, March 28. We intend to make up these rehearsals either during April break or at the end of the school year.

All concerts and events previously scheduled through the end of March are cancelled.

As we move through this public closure, we will stay in touch to keep you connected with our WCMS community. Thank you all for your cooperation and understanding. Be well!


March 12, 2020
Message from Executive Director Laurie Russell

Dear members of the WCMS community,

Thank you very much for your patience and understanding as we continue to assess and respond to the current health situation and recommendations of local authorities. The safety of our community continues to be our top priority. As of today, WCMS is operating as normal for the teaching of all lessons, classes and group classes, but have cancelled events through the end of March (see below). We will continue to evaluate the situation as we receive new information.

Here are additional news and updates that are important for you to know:

Disinfecting Policies: We are sanitizing all shared instruments (e.g. pianos, hand-held percussion instruments) between lessons and classes. We encourage everyone to properly wash their hands before and after lessons and classes. Surfaces in common areas such as table tops, door knobs, light switches are being disinfected throughout the day to the best of our ability. The school is completely disinfected weekly. There are hand sanitizer stations throughout the building in our waiting areas, as well as in all teaching studios for you to use. (Please note that our supplies are becoming limited so feel free to help out by bringing you own.)

What we ask of you:

  • If your school has closed due to COVID-19 we ask that you stay home until your school reopens.
  • Please follow our illness guidelines and if you are symptomatic with an upper respiratory infection or you know you've been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus, please stay home until the illness/period of contagion has passed.
  • We ask for your patience and flexibility as we enter uncharted territory for all of us. Like everyone, we are doing the best we can, and the health and safety of our WCMS community is our top priority.

Concerts and Events: To support social distancing efforts in our community, all WCMS concerts and events through the end of March are cancelled. This includes: March 13 Beat of Life concert, March 14 Voice Dept. Honors Concert, March 19 Americana Slow Jam, March 20 Broadway On Highland, March 21 Dalcroze Workshop, March 26 Songs of Urgency, Advocacy & Hope Faculty Concert, March 29 Concert for Kids, and March 31 Adult Learner Recital. We will evaluate events going into April soon so please check our website's calendar of events for updates.

Private & Semi-Private Lessons:

  • If you are cancelling a lesson due to illness or because your school is closed due to COVID-19, we are temporarily suspending our 24-hour policy to contact the school for an excused absence. Please call us to report your absence at any point.
  • Teachers who have the capability may offer private lessons to their students via distance learning on Skype, Facetime, or Zoom (or another preferred method of video conferencing). WCMS is currently developing the infrastructure & training that could further enhance this option for more of the faculty. Your teacher may contact you to offer you this option.
  • We are looking at ways to extend the semester to offer more options for make-up lessons at the end of the school year, April break, and possible Sunday lessons.

Group Classes and Ensembles:

  • Our group classes and ensembles are small, typically 3–8 people. As of now, group classes and ensemble rehearsals will continue to meet as scheduled with the exception of the following two groups:
    • Jenks Senior Recorder Ensemble (on hiatus through end of March)
    • People with Parkinson's Ensemble (may meet via distance learning, Monika will be in touch with these adult learners)
  • Please understand that for the majority of group music activities, distance learning is not going to be a feasible option.

Please know that we are continuously monitoring information as it becomes available from the CDC, local public schools, and our state and local departments of health. We are making every effort to base our decisions on the best information available and please understand that decisions may need to change at any point. Thank you again for your understanding and help in keeping the WCMS community healthy and safe. WCMS community members with questions or concerns are encouraged to reach out to the School at wcms@winchestermusic.org or call 781-721-2950.

Helpful reminders:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Proper handwashing technique is essential to prevent the spread of infection.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Helpful resources:  Information is available on the CDC website about the seasonal flu and COVID-19.

WCMS community members with questions or concerns are encouraged to reach out to the School at wcms@winchestermusic.org or call 781-721-2950.


March 9, 2020
Message from Executive Director Laurie Russell

Dear members of the WCMS community,

There have been a number of recent questions about COVID-19. The safety and security of our WCMS community is always our first priority. The school continues to be open and operating on a regular schedule. We are developing plans in case the proliferation of COVID-19 necessitates a reduction in person to person contact, including possible distance learning options. We are closely following the recommendations the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and our local department of public health.

At WCMS, we have enhanced our cleaning efforts throughout the school to reduce the spread of germs. We are paying particular attention to sanitizing shared instruments (e.g. pianos & keyboards, percussion instruments). Please wash your hands before and after using shared instruments and musical equipment. There are hand sanitizer dispensers around the building and we encourage you to use them. I remind you to stay home if you are ill and to follow our illness guidelines.

Out of an abundance of caution for our community, we ask that students and their family members from schools that are closed for reasons related to COVID-19 not attend lessons or classes or enter the WCMS facility until the closure of their school is lifted.

WCMS has also suspended all school-related international travel, and outreach performances at senior living facilities, until further notice.

We appreciate that this situation personally affects many of us, and that you may be concerned about friends, family, and loved ones around the world. It is vital that we support each other and base decisions on the best information available. These are some ways we can help keep everyone well:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Proper handwashing technique is essential to prevent the spread of infection.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Helpful resources:  Information is available on the CDC website about the seasonal flu and COVID-19.

WCMS community members with questions or concerns are encouraged to reach out to the School at wcms@winchestermusic.org or call 781-721-2950.

Thank you for helping to keep our WCMS community healthy and well.