Who would’ve guessed that within the final months of Keene State’s spring 2020 semester, everything would be turned around by the COVID-19 virus. The pandemic is sending students back home and closing down the campus for the rest of the academic year. I don’t think anybody was truly prepared for the impact this pandemic would have on our community and how it would affect our day-to-day lives.
On March 18, Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell announced the cancellation of all in-person instruction for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester, and that was surely a blow many Keene State students and faculty weren’t expecting.
More and more, Keene State saw the cancellation of collegiate sports games and meets as well as other extracurricular activities, putting many athletes in unfortunate positions of having to miss important events they had been training months for.
Similarly, in the music department, concerts and senior recitals being canceled sent a shock through the close-knit community of music students and faculty alike. Many students were feeling unsure, like their academic world may just be coming to a halting end, but not quite yet.
Through this time of hardship, it’s easy to see that the music department has faced some of the biggest challenges of moving course instruction online in a way that is still effective in ensuring students are on top of their instrument and important concepts.
To me, being a former student of the music department, I understand the intensity and importance of being able to practice an instrument face-to-face with your instructor. It is simply something you cannot get over a computer screen; it is far too dynamic. However, despite the challenges, groups like the Keene State College Concert Choir are using Zoom to keep everybody together and up to date on material.
Starting on March 27, the music department at Keene State began bringing the senior recitals back through Facebook Live. While it may not quite compare to sitting in the Alumni Recital Hall in the Redfern playing for all your peers and teachers, it is obvious that the music department is doing everything it can to give its students the next best thing from in-person instruction.
I believe it is important that close-knit communities like the music department take these extra steps to bring the community together even from states away to help not only the community but also the individuals who may be struggling more than others.
Music is something that is known to help humans through difficult times and that has proven true throughout this period of self-isolation and quarantine. The department has seen the return of the senior recitals, important lectures on music history and composition and staff composer recitals, all via livestream, sharing each other’s music to continue to help the department find healing and solace during this time of isolation.
On Tuesday, March 31, a lecture on navigating the first years of teaching will be available via Zoom at 8 p.m. at https://keene.zoom.us/j/598477241. On Thursday, April 23, at 4:30 p.m. a presentation titled “Inclusive Instruction in the Instrumental Ensemble” will be available via Zoom at https://keene.zoom.us/j/740410549.
I would like to personally wish all musicians, staff and students alike the best as they push forward through this difficult time, sharing their music with the world, bettering their craft and making moving statements through this time of hardship.
For more links leading to the lectures, performances and recitals, reach out to Deb Ford, the administrative assistant at the Redfern Arts Center, to stay up to date with the music community as it continues sharing its works remotely throughout the remainder of the spring semester.
Alex Dube can be contacted at