This year, Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music will be emplacing health and safety protocols with unique masks and practice rooms due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Conservatory of Music consists of students who play instruments and sing. In order to continue to safely practice and learn, students need specially designed masks.
Masks for wind and brass instrumentalists look like a regular black fabric mask with a slit in them for the mouthpiece, said Susan Van Vorst, the dean of the Conservatory of Music.
“There is a flap of fabric that comes down so when you are playing it falls over the top of the slit and the mouthpiece,” said Van Vorst.
The wind and brass instrumentalists’ masks are different from masks that singers would wear.
“They look like they have a snout on them,” Van Vorst said of singer’s masks. “They stick out, so they do not touch the mouth when singing, talking, and forming vowels.”
The practice rooms in the Conservatory have specific protocol for cleaning before and after practicing. This includes unique wipes for the pianos.
“We have special [disinfecting] wipes that can be used on the keyboards and the pianos because the regular wipes found in the classrooms are damaging to the piano keys,” Van Vorst said.
Students are required to sign up for a time slot to practice in the practice rooms and have a limit on the number of hours to use a room.
“We are given a limited amount of hours that we can practice per day based on our academic year and major,” said Maddie Mascia, a music theory major. With this major, she is allowed up to three hours a day.
Students are restricted on their time spent in the practice rooms to allow for ventilation time.
“We worked with Buildings and Grounds to determine the ventilation times in the rooms,” said Craig Reynolds, the concert production and scheduling coordinator. “Someone could leave the room and then the air in that room could completely, 100% recirculate, and be fresh for the next person. The ventilation time in the practice room is only 15 minutes, so that’s actually pretty good.”
In the classrooms at the Conservatory, the class sizes are reduced to 10 to 12 students.
“Normally our classes generally run between 20 to 24 students and so they are probably half of that now or less,” said Van Vorst.
Conservatory classes are meeting at Gamble Auditorium, Kulas Hall, in the tent outside, or at St. Adalbert church.
“The classes are a mixture of hybrid or blended instruction so not every student is physically in the classroom every day,” said Van Vorst.
“Conservatory students have been excellent stewards of our safety protocol,” said Erika Haskell, the Conservatory concert and special events manager.