After camps are cancelled, music faculty work with students online

The COVID-19 virus caused the cancellation of a number of music camps at Northwestern State University this summer, but NSU’s music faculty found new ways to reach out to high school students.

Thirty-two students from throughout Louisiana, Texas and Florida have been taking part in online music lessons with 11 music faculty. Each of the students were named to their respective all-state band.

“Our Honors Wind Ensemble Camp is one of our most important avenues for engaging potential students,” said Director of Bands Dr. Jeffrey C. Mathews. “Since we had to cancel our camp this year due to COVID-19, we thought through ways we might be able to reach these students virtually. The complimentary online lessons developed from there.”

Mathews along with fellow faculty members Dennette McDermott, Malena McLaren, David Steele, Leah Forsyth, Paul Forsyth, Doug Bakenhus, Galindo Rodriguez, Kristine Coreil, Mark Thompson and Oliver Molina are teaching complimentary lessons online to all-state students that responded to an invitation from NSU. Mathews said the faculty member and student meet online for a 40-50 minute lesson. During the lesson, the student plays for the faculty member and the faculty member provides feedback to the student on how to improve their skills.

“I appreciate the effort NSU is making to still have summer opportunities for all-state students during this time,” said Mason Buckman, a sophomore at Barbe High School in Lake Charles.

The lessons began on May 8 and should be completed by June 10.

Northwestern State faculty and staff in a number of areas are reaching current and prospective students virtually. In May, NSU hosted two successful on-line sessions of Freshman Connection and Parent Connection with three more planned in June. Faculty in NSU’s School of Education have used social media to host reading sessions for youngsters while faculty in the School of Biological and Physical Sciences have created daily science videos to perform experiments and explain basic science concepts.