Quarantine Check IN: The Music School of Delaware
Founded in 1924, The Music School of Delaware has a long history of serving residents of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. As organizations continue to adapt to the realities of operating during the coronavirus lockdown, The Music School of Delaware has done so with exceptional agility.
As Kate Ransom, President and CEO, puts it: “The organization’s philosophy for over 15 years has focused on TAKING opportunity and MAKING opportunity. This has served us well at this time.”
Crediting their well-engaged team leadership from Board, to staff, to faculty, Kate shared how The Music School of Delaware is continuing to focus on safety and community engagement during the Pandemic.
The organization’s immediate response in late February was communication about hygiene, hand-washing, cleaning instruments and equipment, social contact, staying home if sick, and adding sanitizer stations and posted messaging. (These were in place by March 2nd at both their Milford and Wilmington branches.)
“Keeping teachers teaching, students learning, and employees employed was our next firm commitment” - Kate
With 85 faculty members, 25 administrative staff; enrollment of ~2500 individuals in various programs, The Music School of Delaware immediately adapted to remote work and meeting modalities. They began to plan and execute with a focus on distance learning, work on reschedule options, re-tool lesson make-up policies, and activate help of the Faculty Leadership team with their departments.
Within a few weeks 85% of the faculty were doing virtual instruction, and approaches to ensemble, group, and class instruction were being rapidly developed and implemented.
Kate credits the exceptional teamwork the staff and faculty have demonstrated for the organization’s success. The staff pitched in to help cover needs that were new, such as setting up and learning Zoom and other modalities. The administrative team adhered to a strict work schedule and started meeting twice a week (virtually) to share updates and address questions immediately as they arose, creating a tight communication loop. Although new to most of them, faculty with previous experience with distance learning and related technology stepped up to share their knowledge and guidance.
In addition to the continued delivery of existing programs, The Music School of Delaware is also focusing on innovations to broaden reach beyond their existing limitations.
The organization has created BRAND NEW distance learning options and encouraged as many faculty as possible to participate. Along with new programming, the organization’s website was updated with new systems and structures to allow people to register and pay for the new virtual programs.
Comprehensive Virtual Programming Options (created since Mar 12, 2020!)
The first thing you might notice on The Music School of Delaware’s website is an INvitation to “GO VIRTUAL with the Music School”.
As you click the link for virtual events you will discover a rich menu of options to enjoy from the comfort of your home, during the lockdown and beyond.
A sampling of available programs:
- Virtual Lessons
- Facebook Performances (weekly Faculty mini-concerts)
- Engagement Activities for Adults and Parents/Families
- Rock, Jazz, Folk & Beer
- Open Mic Night
- Classical Café
- Fundraising events
- Monday Music Motivation (free)
- Engagement Activities for Youth
- Movie Night
- Acapella contest
- Music Therapy
- Relaxation to Music (led by licensed Music Therapist)
Kate stresses that the organization continues to learn from every experience. They are currently exploring options such as live-streaming and replaying concert events and upcoming performances later this summer. Some will be immediately incorporated into their fall catalog and others will be developed over a longer timeline.
“As an arts education organization, we tend to be creative and open-minded thinkers, and the staff team reflects this, as well. “ - Kate
As the organization continues to serve the community, the Board along with the CEO and Development Officer are taking every opportunity to access financial relief to help weather the crisis. The school recently received a CARES ACT Payroll Protection Program loan, and has applied to receive several other government and private foundation prospective grants. The Board’s Finance Committee is carefully monitoring the school’s available resources and planning for present and future needs. Since the income streams from tuition, partnerships, and contributions are all jeopardized, it is essential to continue delivery of instructions and programs to the degree possible, and also to seek other help that is available. The Music School of Delaware is attentively staying in touch with their constituents to let them know “the school is very much active and adapting and keeping the music playing.”
With teamwork, agility, and innovation, The Music School of Delaware has done an impressive job rising to the challenge posed by COVID-19. They continue to deliver on their mission, confident and prepared to get back on track quickly and move forward once we are all past this pandemic.
To support their mission, please consider making a monetary contribution via the "Giving" page on the website (or via check to The Music School of Delaware, 4101 N. Washington Street, Wilmington, DE, 19802) and help keep the music playing!
Filed Under: Music