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Fall 2020 Information

Dear Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance Community,

I hope that you are well during these extraordinary times.  We have been working diligently throughout the summer to prepare for our students’ arrival on campus this Fall and we are committed to offering the excellence of instruction you expect from Grand Valley State University. 

Guided by President Mantella, the university administration, faculty, and staff have developed comprehensive plans for our return to campus, which are available at the Lakers Together website: https://www.gvsu.edu/lakerstogether/.

lakers together

Within our department, we have taken a number of steps (that you can access below) to ensure optimal health and safety for our students, faculty, and staff while maintaining our curriculum to allow normal degree progression.  We have been guided by our excellent Facilities leadership team and recent national studies that have been performed to guide our Performing Arts community.  Fortunately, all of our facilities meet, and in most cases exceed, the air exchange rates recommended by these studies.

As the situation remains fluid, these policies will continue to evolve to meet government and university guidance.  Your support and trust are greatly appreciated as we face these historic challenges together.

I look forward to seeing everyone on campus.

With Very Best Regards,

social distance

danny phipps

Danny K. Phipps
Chair and Professor of Music
Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance

Fall 2020 Information

Music Stands

In order to reduce common contact surfaces and sanitization needs, we are asking all students to bring a folding music stand to school with them this Fall.  Students will need them for ensemble rehearsals, applied lessons, and practice rooms.  If a student does not have a good folding music stand, we will have stands available through the Department Office for a refundable deposit fee of $10.

Public Performances

In order to comply with the government and university guidance, live performances for public audiences have been cancelled for indoor spaces for the Fall semester.  We continue to consider outdoor venues, weather permitting, but plan to livestream performances as our primary alternative to meet curricular objectives.  The number of students on stage at one time will be limited to allow for appropriate physical distancing.  The length of time performers are on stage will be reduced and the length of intermissions will be extended to ensure proper air exchange is achieved.

Laker Marching Band

The Laker Marching Band Camp begins on August 22 and runs through August 26.  Student will complete the GVSU Self-Assessment before coming to camp and each day before attending camp events.  Individual move-in dates/times are being established by the Campus Housing Office to reduce student density.  All events during the camp will be held outdoors.  In the event of inclement weather, events will be cancelled.  Students will follow 6’ physical distancing guidelines in all rehearsals, performances, stadium seating, and drills moves.  Students will follow GVSU mask guidelines at all times, except wind instrumentalists who are actively engaged in rehearsal or performance.  Bell covers will be provided for all wind instrumentalists to reduce the spread of aerosols.  Use of the locker areas before and after rehearsals and performances will be monitored to ensure appropriate physical distancing.  Rehearsal start times will be delayed if necessary to ensure all students have adequate time to safely access their lockers.  Students will be responsible for their own meals and additional time has been built into the camp schedule to allow them to return to their domiciles or utilize on campus dining facilities.  For more information, you can visit the Laker Marching Band website:  https://www.gvsu.edu/marchingband/.

Music Instrumental Ensemble Rehearsals

We are planning to hold in-person instrumental ensemble rehearsals with significant modifications and limitations.  There will be one ensemble for string players, one ensemble for wind players, and one ensemble for percussionists.  Per university guidance, an online-only ensemble experience is also being planned for students who request remote-only instruction.  Large ensembles will be broken into smaller ensembles of 12 or less performers to allow proper physical distancing.  Instrumental rehearsals will be scheduled in 30 minute or less blocks, with 20- to 30-minute breaks between ensembles to allow for air exchange in the rehearsal space.  A high-capacity HEPA air purifier will be used during the breaks to increase air filtration.  Wind players will be provided bell covers to help reduce the spread of aerosols.  Students will bring their own folding stand to use during rehearsals to eliminate the need to sanitize music stands between rehearsals. On a rotating basis, instrumental ensembles will have access to the outdoor tent to allow for a more immersive experience.  For information on ensemble this Fall, please visit the Ensembles Audition website:  https://www.gvsu.edu/mtd/wind-symphony-and-orchestra-ensemble-auditions-48.htm.

Music Vocal Ensemble Rehearsals

We are planning to hold in-person vocal ensemble rehearsals with significant modifications and limitations.  Per university guidance, an online-only ensemble experience is also being planned for all vocal students who request remote-only instruction.  During the first part of the Fall semester, vocal rehearsals will take place in an open-sided tent being set up near the Haas Center.  Rehearsals will be scheduled in 30 minutes blocks, with 20-minute breaks to allow for air exchange.  Indoor rehearsals (in the event of inclement weather during the first part of the semester and after the weather turns colder) will involve large ensembles being broken into smaller ensembles of 12 or fewer performers to allow proper physical distancing.  Rehearsals will be scheduled in 30-minute or less blocks, with 30-minute breaks between ensembles to allow for air exchange in the rehearsal space.  A high-capacity HEPA air purifier  will be used during the breaks to increase air filtration.

Applied Lessons

We are planning for face-to-face applied instruction with a number of modifications:

  1. Applied string and wind instrument instruction will take place in the three large studios on the second floor (PAC 2755, 2757, 2759) and PAC 1525 to allow for required physical distancing
  2. Applied percussion instruction will take place in the Percussion Studio (PAC 1505) as the space is sufficient in size to allow for physical distancing
  3. Applied voice and keyboard instruction will take place in SVS to allow for required physical distancing
  4. Physical distancing of at least 12 feet must be maintained throughout the lesson for wind instrument and voice students and at least 6 feet for all others
  5. Applied teachers and accompanists must wear masks at all times unless they must remove it to demonstrate
  6. Students must wear masks throughout the lesson if possible (keyboard, percussion, and string students) or, if not possible (wind instrument and voice students), when not playing for long periods (e.g., discussions)
  7. Lessons will be scheduled with 20- to 30-minute breaks between students to allow for sufficient air exchange*
  8. A HEPA air filtration device (recommended by GVSU Facilities) will be used in each applied lesson room
  9. Lesson times will likely need to be scheduled during evenings and weekends in addition to normal daytime hours
  10. Student requests for online only lessons will be honored**

Applied Music Studio Classes

Studio classes will be online only for Fall 2020.  Instructors will notify students if the studio class will be synchronous at the time previously scheduled or asynchronous.

Music Student Recitals

We are planning to conduct degree-required recitals only this semester.  All recitals will take place in PAC 1515 and will be livestreamed.  Recitals will only be open to the applied instructor and the immediate family to attend.  Hour recitals will include a 30-minute intermission with the room being vacated during this time.  A high-capacity HEPA air purifier will be used during the intermission to increase air filtration.

Music Practice Rooms

Music practice rooms will be utilized with the following guidelines:

  1. Only one student at a time can be in a practice room
  2. Students will bring their own folding stand to use
  3. Practice rooms will be signed out on a one hour open/one hour closed schedule to allow for proper air exchange with consideration of the intensity of aerosol production and the small size of the space
  4. Practice rooms will be locked at all times and a student worker will be assigned to open the rooms for students who have signed them out
  5. After use, the student worker will sanitize the keyboard

Double Reed Room

The double reed room will be utilized with the following guidelines:

  1. Only one student at a time can be in the room
  2. The room will be signed out on a one hour open/one hour closed schedule to allow for proper air exchange with consideration of the intensity of aerosol production and the small size of the space (Dr. Vavrikova will maintain the schedule)
  3. The room will be locked at all times and a student worker will be assigned to open the room for the student who has it signed out
  4. The student will wear a mask unless actually testing a reed
  5. After use, the student will sanitize all equipment
  6. Lockers in the room will only be used to store reed-making supplies

Music Lockers

To reduce student density, we will limit the use of lockers in the storage room to larger instruments (for e.g., baritone saxophones, trombones, tubas).  Music lockers will be signed out through the Department Office.   Rehearsal start times will be delayed if necessary to ensure all students have adequate time to safely access their lockers.

Public Performances

In order to comply with the government and university guidance, live performances for public audiences have been cancelled for indoor spaces for the Fall semester.  We continue to consider outdoor venues, weather permitting, but plan to livestream performances as our primary alternative to meet curricular objectives.  The number of students on stage at one time will be limited to allow for appropriate physical distancing.  The length of time performers are on stage will be reduced and the length of intermissions will be extended to ensure proper air exchange is achieved.

Theatre Lab and Classroom

Students will be required to wear masks during classes in the Theatre Lab (PAC 1721) and the Theatre classroom (PAC 1506) in accordance with university policies.  Physical distancing will be maintained at all times. On a rotating basis, Theatre classes will have access to the outdoor tent to allow for a more immersive experience. 

Public Performances

In order to comply with the government and university guidance, live performances for public audiences have been cancelled for indoor spaces for the Fall semester.  We continue to consider outdoor venues, weather permitting, but plan to livestream performances as our primary alternative to meet curricular objectives.  The number of students on stage at one time will be limited to allow for appropriate physical distancing.  The length of time performers are on stage will be reduced and the length of intermissions will be extended to ensure proper air exchange is achieved.

Dance Rehearsal Studios

Dance performance classes have been rescheduled to allow 30 minutes between classes for air exchange.  A high-capacity air purifier will be used during the breaks to increase air filtration.  Dance performance classes have also all been redesigned in Hybrid/Online formats to reduce student density in the space and to allow remote learning/instruction as needed.  Temporary dance surfaces have been placed in the Dance studios to allow for frequent sanitizing.  A student worker will be assigned to sanitize the floor after each class.

Dance Locker Rooms

The Dance Locker Rooms will be closed for the Fall semester.  The attached restrooms will be open.


Department News


The Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance is a student-centered learning community that prepares students to be productive citizens, performers, teachers and scholars while contributing to the enrichment of society through creative and excellent teaching, performing, active scholarship, and public service. 

The Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance will provide a vibrant, personalized, and learning-centered environment which emphasizes individual attention, independent thought, and collaboration among students, faculty, and the wider community. Through the fostering of creativity, critical thinking and analysis, and the understanding and application of historical knowledge through scholarly and artistic expression, our students will further the cultural advancement of West Michigan, the state, and the nation. 

We believe in music, theatre, and dance which inspires students to the highest level of artistry and creativity.

We believe in providing education which is challenging, contemporary, and comprehensive. 

We believe in education which is focused on the student.

We believe all faculty should regularly engage in scholarly and/or creative activity which is profound and conducted with integrity.

We believe in engagement with the artistic, scholarly, and global community around us.

We believe in a community that is inclusive, collegial, and collaborative.

The Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance belongs to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a student-centered and diverse learning community that engages in critical inquiry, extending knowledge to enrich and enliven individual and public life.
Learn more at gvsu.edu/clas/.

Grand Valley State University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music.