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Is anyone considering deferring their kid's conservatory for a year due to Covid-19?

MomOfSingersMomOfSingers 134 replies10 threads Junior Member

Is anyone thinking of deferring their music school acceptances a year? We hadn't even considered doing this, but this weekend my son said that he didn't feel it would be financially worth it to go to a conservatory until the Covid crisis is over. He mentioned it may be better to spend a year at a community college and start conservatory the fall of 2021. We had just declined our two CUNY options when he said that, so I dismissed what he'd said, but several of our friends who are parents of musicians are also talking about this. Then someone sent me a few articles (one by a college dean) saying that a wise choice would be to defer admittance for a year and do online classes for transferable credit at a CC. The thinking seems to be that there is a chance the virus can return in the fall, meaning you will have paid for a university or conservatory experience that your child won't get because he/she may need to be home taking online classes. There was also mention that if your kid is going to school far away from home, a sudden shut-down may make it hard to get him/her home. ( A vaccine would certainly help allay everyone's fears, but this most likely won't happen until some point in 2021.)

I am not saying this is the route we are going to take, but I am curious if any of you would are thinking about delaying conservatory for a year? My heart says to move forward with conservatory, but I am curious about what other people are doing.
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Replies to: Is anyone considering deferring their kid's conservatory for a year due to Covid-19?

  • CaraCoMOCaraCoMO 96 replies1 threads Junior Member
    My son is currently a freshman at an instate conservatory. He is currently doing online coursework at home, but his big band and jazz combo coursework/interaction is almost nonexistent. I too am beginning to wonder what the fall semester is going to look like, or if there is a way he can rearrange some of his coursework to be mostly not performance classes for the fall.
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  • MomOfSingersMomOfSingers 134 replies10 threads Junior Member
    I would love to hear what you ultimately do with that, @CaraCoMO. I am so pro-music school, but my son is at a performing arts school right now (in the senior year of high school), and the music classes and ensembles are (if I am completely honest--and it pains me to be this honest) are not helpful. His voice lessons work fine virtually, but the ensemble classes are a mess. The academic classes are pretty okay, too, from what I can tell.
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  • Parentof2014gradParentof2014grad 1058 replies13 threads Senior Member
    My son is a freshman in music Ed (voice). Like everyone else, his classes switched to online. His ensemble class they handled by considering the course requirements met for the semester and just stopping. His other classes are going fine online for the most part. Voice and cello lessons are basically working over Zoom but certainly everything would be much better in person. He has an ensemble requirement every semester and was participating in three choirs, one for credit, one required for his major as conducting practice for students heading out to student teaching soon but not a class, and one extracurricular. How he will get all those experiences that are not just required but a needed and important part of his education that just aren’t happening in an online format? I’m sure his college is having many intense discussions about how to handle this come fall.
    If I had an incoming freshman music major I would consider deferring if that was an option, but I’m not sure I’d do it. They can at least make some progress if in school, taking theory, getting lessons, etc. The college may or may not allow a deferral and may not allow college classes to be taken while in deferral. What is the student going to do to move forward musically while in deferral? I think I’d ask a lot of “what if” questions of the schools we were considering if we were having to decide now.
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  • JeJeJeJeJeJe 281 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Many private music conservatories have “no-defer” policy especially with talent / merit scholarship. But my son’s private conservatory sent an email to all students and families that they extended a deadline to request leave of absence until mid July without losing talent / merit scholarship. So, I think that they offer accepted students to request to defer a year.

    All music schools know that online classes suck and there are some students who aren’t in a good situation to study at home remotely. Classes are given in school time zone. That is another challenge for students in different coast or different country. But they are trying the best they can. Even online classes happen in fall semester for 2nd wave (or even in spring semester for 3rd wave), they will give better online classes than this semester.

    When campuses open, there will be new social distance rules there. Dorm is a major thing. It’s impossible to separate multiple students in one dorm room with 6’ distance. And communal bathroom????

    My son is a jazz performance major freshman, so big band (20-ish) may not happen but small combos should happen. Those chamber and small vocal ensembles should happen. But large ensembles, especially 100-piece orchestra and choirs are usually squeezed on the stage to rehearse and perform. There will be a lot of droplet but no facial masks work functionally with vocalists and non-string instrumentalists. They should to come up with a creative plan for social distance.
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  • Cellomom98Cellomom98 10 replies0 threads New Member
    Please don't make this decision without consulting the Conservatory. Question to ask are impact on financial aid and actually whether or not taking classes at a community college will change the student's status as an entering freshman with the conservatory (I suspect not since conservatories are well known for not accepting transfer classes).

    Different kid, different time, different discipline, but years ago my ice hockey student decided to defer college admission in order to continue playing junior hockey. He was told he would have to re-compete for merit aid. He decided to take some community college courses while playing junior hockey. The college found out and told him he was no longer considered an entering freshman by them and would have to reapply as a transfer student. FWIW, when he was ready to go to college, he applied to a completely different set of colleges than he did as a high school senior. And he was considered a transfer student because of the community college credits.
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  • compmomcompmom 11570 replies81 threads Senior Member
    The doctoral student in our family, who was almost done, is also in limbo, needing to put on the final project planned for some time.

    I don't think any of us can decide anything right now. Taking the year off is certainly understandable as an option. It's hard to wait for certainty, especially when we are uncertain there will be any certainty!
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  • parentologistparentologist 209 replies20 threads Junior Member
    I posted a more general thread about deferrals, and how hyper-competitive it's going to make the admissions process for current juniors, if a lot of the seats are filled by this year's high school seniors having deferred. People who responded just didn't seem to get it. But I thought that it wouldn't matter for him, because I figured that musicians, especially trumpet, were kind of like athletes, who needed to keep moving forward in their training, without a break, so as to not lose valuable momentum while in their youth. Interesting to see that current musicians are considering taking time off, if school is going to be online, and who could blame them.

    I've been trying to persuade the kid to put in his applications the summer AFTER 12th grade, and plan for a gap year, possibly either by continuing with Juilliard precollege and Jazz at Lincoln Center by maintaining his high school status for a 5th year of high school (he is young for his year, could delay graduating), or by taking a gap year to study with a luminary in his field abroad, before starting conservatory. It's like talking to a brick wall. The kid is determined to go ahead and apply this fall. I think it's going to be very, very hard to get in for fall of 2021, if a lot of students take time off this coming year, or defer admission for a year.
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  • stringbirdstringbird 43 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @parentologist , I will caveat by saying that don’t know the other thread you are referring to. But from what I’ve heard, freshman class sizes this year are expected to be smaller, not just due to deferrals, and will not bring in the revenue the schools need to operate normally. In my mind, it would follow that the freshman class size next year would need to be larger than usual, even with the deferring students. Additionally, it seems to me there might be shrinkage in the deferred talent pool for reasons of finances or changing interests, same as there is freshman-to-sophomore class size shrinkage in a normal year.

    I have been telling my junior that I think she will face the same amount of audition competition as in a normal year for admission, but finances would be tighter for the schools, so less merit money available. Therefore, higher than usual competition for merit money.
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  • stringbirdstringbird 43 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I found the other thread and I will respond to it, because it's really interesting to think about what will happen to higher education over the next year. But for your son's goals.... speaking from a position of ignorance - as we all are - I would encourage you and your son to apply as normal. Make sure he applies to a true safety, no audition required and academically secure. That way, if the competition is as bad as you fear, he's not boxed in, he still has options. I think having options is going to be really important for this group. He can take the safety, or else take the gap year and apply some more.
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  • parentologistparentologist 209 replies20 threads Junior Member
    Thanks, Bird. He has two or three state schools that I think would be safeties for him, that have good trumpet programs, but of course they're not the same as the schools with great music schools and great academics. It's just a cruddy situation all around, for the kids sitting at home now, for those whose school year will be disrupted next year, and for this year's juniors applying into this nightmare.
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  • compmomcompmom 11570 replies81 threads Senior Member
    I have been reading about strategies being considered for one school that are pretty hopeful, though vocal and wind instruments do pose issues. Cleaning, sanitizing, spacing musicians, using the biggest space possible, omitting audience, use of plexiglass dividers, mixing live and virtual or livestreaming etc. Of course that assumes dorm and dining options that are also safe.
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  • JeJeJeJeJeJe 281 replies1 threads Junior Member
    AsMother—

    Thank you for sharing this information! 1 meter is about 39 inches. So, Austria thinks if musicians can spread out at least 4 feet distance each other, orchestras should be OK instead of 6 feet on the same stage.

    Hope, more researches come out for music schools to make a decision that would help students to make a decision to take a gap year / leave of absence in 2020-2021.
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  • compmomcompmom 11570 replies81 threads Senior Member
    edited May 23
    I personally think dorms and shared bathrooms are the biggest issue! For grad students, public transportation as well. It does seem hopeful about performance, at least in the long run. People are at least trying to figure it out.
    edited May 23
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  • buoyantbuoyant 157 replies9 threads Junior Member
    edited May 23
    There's a free contact tracing class I recently took online just to learn more. I found it very well done. (Developed by John Hopkins and available free through Coursera.) Below are the basics and it may provide a window into what colleges and universities are grappling with as they make plans and back-up plans for re-opening campuses in the fall.

    A person exposed to the virus can develop symptoms as soon as 2 days and as late as 14 days after exposure, with 50% of those who get sick developing symptoms by 5 days after exposure.

    A person is the most infectious on the day they first develop symptoms and for the 2 days prior. The person is considered to be infectious for a minimum of 10 days after onset of symptoms or for 10 days after a positive test if asymptomatic.

    Anyone determined to have been a contact of a person who develops symptoms needs to quarantine for 14 days after exposure. (Contacts include anyone you have close contact with for over 15 minutes, proximate contact with for an hour or anyone you live with.)

    Yesterday the CDC determined that 35% of those infected with the virus are asymptomatic and 40% of transmission occurs before the onset of symptoms in those who become ill..

    Setting aside the work the universities and colleges must do as they prepare for the fall, my take away is that teachers, students and staff need to be prepared to shift quickly from in-person to online if they are asked to quarantine. If instructors or staff become ill, back-ups need to be ready to step in either online or in-person.
    edited May 23
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  • AsMotherAsMother 350 replies21 threads Member
    @compmom , I agree. And even with off-campus housing, it's usually shared as well, and there's not much one can do or know about roommates' activities and possible exposures when they're not home. And @buoyant , the information you provided is also really helpful.
    Frankly, unless their administrations are made up of miracle-workers, magicians, and clairvoyants, I really don't see how campuses can prepare with much degree of certainty to bring students back with so much still left unknown (and possibly subject to change, if, for example, the virus mutates further). It's clear that most of them are doing their damndest to figure out how to walk that tightrope with very little time in which to do so. I would not want to be in their shoes right now, but I give them credit for working so hard to find workable solutions.
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  • compmomcompmom 11570 replies81 threads Senior Member
    My kids with roomates are sanitizing bathroom when they go in the room. And wear a mask, or wait a certain amount of time. Etc. They seem to feel safe. A large group bathroom is different from a suite or roommates though. The schools would have to sanitize hourly.

    I think many schools with large classes and maybe even schools with smaller classes will do hybrid. Large lectures would be virtual.

    With the exception of voice and wind, which would have to be virtual, I think lessons and some performance could resume, though virtual lessons work for some.

    Professors who are vulnerable could teach the online classes and staff could work remotely if their health required it.

    Waiting to hear is tough. The decidions made by various colleges so far are all over the place.

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  • composermomcomposermom 25 replies4 threads Junior Member
    I wonder whether we really think conservatories can or will grant deferrals? They are working very hard to figure out a solution. They can't keep operating without students. Meanwhile, I question what my kid would do with a year at home. Not sure that is a very appealing option for personal or musical growth...
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  • compmomcompmom 11570 replies81 threads Senior Member
    edited May 24
    Just watched a video of a Handel aria with everyone playing in their own homes, the singer in the middle of the screen. Some had headphones. The quality was high and I can actually see musicians better than in a concert hall. I also watched a livestream from Berlin. Certainly there are challenges (is everyone using a click track?) and some music does not translate well to this medium, but overall I see glimmers of hope until COVID is somehow vanquished. Just wanted to post this because we all keep saying it is different for singers. I also think that once performances are live with strings and piano, prerecorded voice and wind could be included. Not the same for performers but the audience could still benefit. And it could still be for credit, for students, or pay, for professionals. There is a lot of creative brainstorming going on.

    Sorry if this is a tangent. If the room and board issues could be resolved, though, I do think that conservatories could continue this year for everyone, even if some musicians are limited to being filmed and put online or added to a live performance. Or they could offer at least some benefit with students staying home. The problem there is the financial health of the schools.
    edited May 24
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