We're Open; Virtually and In-person


(From the Telegraph Herald - June, 2020) written by Megan Gloss

Music is ready to echo once again throughout the halls at Dubuque’s Northeast Iowa School of Music.

After closing its doors nearly three months ago amid the COVID-19 pandemic and instead offering music lessons virtually, the organization will reopen today for one-on-one instruction in piano, voice, guitar, strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion.

“We’ve been speaking with the parents of students and have been making preparations,” said Executive Director David Resnick. “During the summer, there usually are fewer lessons, but we’ve had a lot to think about to get ready for this.”

Mindful of the risks posed by COVID-19, the school has put several protocols into place for students and teachers returning to lessons in-person, based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That includes calling NISOM’s office and answering questions about how they’ve been feeling and any symptoms they might be experiencing.

It includes custom-made acrylic shields that have been strategically placed throughout each of the school’s private studios to divide teacher and student, as well as additional keyboard instruments. And, there is access to hand sanitizer and the regular disinfecting of instruments.

“We’ve even put up a mirror in our L-shaped hallway, so that people will be able to see if a person is coming from another direction and so they can continue to keep their distance,” Resnick said.

Similar to other avenues of one-on-one instruction, private music lessons were early to suffer a blow amid the pandemic. However, in an interview with the Telegraph Herald in April, Resnick said the school aimed to be as quick in its response.

“We jumped on it and tried to offer an alternative right away,” he said. “We followed the Dubuque Community Schools’ lead, canceling face-to-face instruction and offering online lessons. We sent an email out to families on March 16 with three options: To encourage social distancing, students could take advantage of those online options, parents could donate the lesson fee to reduce the financial impact on their teacher or parents could request a refund for missed or discontinued lessons.”

Resnick said that NISOM is down one-third in revenue, compared to this part of last year’s trimester.

The school also made a pledge to continue compensating any of its instructors willing to teach their lessons virtually — even if their students opted not to take advantage of that offering.

“We believed that was very important to do,” Resnick said.

NISOM was qualified for the Paycheck Protection Program for its staff as part of the CARES Act.

In addition to lessons in-person, the school will continue to offer virtual instruction to any student who would prefer it.

Resnick said 73% of its 22 instructors will teach face-to-face and virtually, while 27% will teach through Zoom. For students, 76% have indicated that they plan to return for face-to-face lessons, while 24% will receive virtual instruction.

“I was surprised,” Resnick admitted. “I think connection is something that resonates right now. And in-person music instruction is such an important step in the process of musical development. So, people are really counting on the school — and me — to do the right thing in our preparations to bring students and teachers back in.”

NISOM recently invested $2,000 to upgrade its Wi-Fi systems to be more conducive to continued virtual music instruction, something Resnick said he believes could become a permanent offering even after the pandemic subsides.

“We are called the Northeast Iowa School of Music,” he said. “And for some of our students living a little further away, we have found that some have preferred Zoom. Especially during the

wintertime it could be a good option to have. And I think our ability to be able to offer both lessons in-person and virtually will only be something better for the school.”

NISOM also recently secured a $4,500 emergency relief grant from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, which will aid the organization in “getting over the hump,” Resnick said.

“We’ve had to learn a lot,” he said. “And we’ll keep learning as we go forward.”


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We're Open; Virtually and In-person


(From the Telegraph Herald - June, 2020) written by Megan Gloss


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