March 18, Susan Cook, Director of the Mead Witter School of Music, announced practice rooms within George L. Mosse Humanities and the Hamel Music Center closed in compliance with social distancing practices. 

It was also in response to collective university efforts to protect students, staff and faculty amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Music students were advised to evacuate all personal items from the building — including musical instruments — as they faced the immediate possibility of a full shutdown of the buildings.

The following week, Tuesday, March 24, Facilities Director Brian Heller announced that after further discussion with the Space Management Office, Humanities would be in full shutdown except for essential staff starting Wednesday, March 25.

For now, the space remains closed indefinitely from face to face instruction, performances and rehearsals. 

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Faculty and students within the Mead Witter SoM face a unique challenge of completing their courses — many of them performance-based — on a virtual basis.

In addition, many students perform recitals, which are an amalgam of different pieces they have been preparing and a way to showcase their work. 

With both the Humanities building and the Hamel Music Center closed, this will be an additional challenge musicians will have to face. Large group ensembles, such as the University Symphony Orchestra or Concert Band, will no longer be able to rehearse in the building.

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Another challenge is access to practice spaces. Many have returned to their homes when classes moved online. But some musicians may not have access to instruments such as a piano or marimba at home or a space to practice if they’re staying on campus. 

“We are deeply saddened by this new reality, but I also know that we will find ways forward as a creative and resilient community. For now, seize what opportunities you can to carry out the work you do in a healthy way,” Cook said in a message addressing the Mead Witter SoM.