When the University of Idaho moved to online-only classes on March 23 because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the music department grappled with how to continue teaching and facilitate the Student Convocation Series.
“It’s challenging because we have so many types of classes – hands-on, private lessons, ensembles,” said Vanessa Sielert, director of the Lionel Hampton School of Music. “I’m so thankful for a faculty that was willing to hash it all out together.”
The Student Convocation Series was especially important. “The series is a tradition,” Sielert said. “We wanted to continue to honor great student performances and make them available for our community to experience.”
Normally, the convocation is a semester-long cycle of classes on campus. “Students meet with their individual studios and play for each other,” Sielert explained. “They get feedback from their peers. If the instructor promotes them, they go on to play in an area recital.”
Areas include woodwinds, brass, vocal and piano, among others. “It’s a little more formal. It’s in front of all the faculty and students in that area,” she said. The faculty meets and selects who will go on to the full convocation performance. “It’s a very competitive process and an honor to be selected,” Sielert said.
UI’s Lionel Hampton School of Music had already been using social media platforms to air performances. “We’ve been livestreaming our concerts for 2 1/2 years,” Sielert said.
So the faculty decided to have students practice, then record performances in their homes and submit them. The performances are then aired on Facebook Live with a simultaneous Zoom meeting, enabling faculty to take attendance and allowing students to offer feedback to their peers.
The final concert will showcase the winners of the school’s convocation challenge chosen from the submitted videos. “We’re staying true to the spirit of the convocation challenge,” Sielert said.
In addition to airing the concerts in this series, the school is rebroadcasting past performances, including jazz bands, choirs, guitar ensembles and more. Each concert will feature a short introduction and message from ensemble directors.
The faculty of the Lionel Hampton School of Music hopes offering these performances to people practicing social distancing at home will provide not only entertainment, but also a sense of connection.
“It’s so important to stay in touch with our patrons,” Sielert said. “Without them, there is no art.” Concerts are aired on UI’s Lionel Hampton School of Music Facebook page facebook.com/lhsom/.
The Student Convocation Series will air at 2:30 p.m. April 30 and May 7. The May 7 final concert showcases the winners of the Student Convocation Challenge. All past performances will start at 7:30 p.m. and include the following:
Friday: Jazz bands and choirs
Tuesday: Jazz combos
Thursday: Wind ensemble and concert band
April 28: Guitar ensemble
April 30: Orchestra
May 1: Student chamber ensembles
May 4: Choirs
May 6: Composers concert
May 8: Jazz bands and choirs
May 15: “Swing Into Summer”
To learn more about each performance, visit
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