The Music Department launched its exciting new curriculum in Fall 2020 with a combination of in-person and online instruction. Students will engage in creative practices including composition, improvisation, sound studies, creative uses of technology, and historical musicology. Our ensembles will see students making music in diverse idioms from Celtic to Jazz to Classical and we will assist 30+ students in the realization of their Cornerstone and Capstone projects through live streaming or video recording. In addition to our annual Scores of Sound Festival of student work, we are curating a robust guest artist and faculty workshop series, including a return to our very popular “how to practice” series. Faculty and staff of the Music Department have also been engaged in deep conversations and study about creating a curriculum that is ant-racist and inclusive at all levels. Please see our statement on these important issues at the end of this FAQ.

Please browse the FAQs below for more information about what learning will look like in Music this spring. Don’t see the answer to your question? Contact the Music department or the Provost’s Office for more information.


Frequently Asked Questions

How will private instruction be delivered?

Private instruction is a central part of the Music Department’s curriculum. Weekly lessons will continue in an online format, using Cornish’s recently adopted technology aides including Zoom, Panapto, and GoReact, which are great for arts education and will enhance the student experience. In addition to online instruction, faculty may meet with small groups of students several times throughout the semester as appropriate for social distancing. Supplementing private instruction for Fall 2020 will be a robust guest artist and faculty workshop series, covering a variety of issues pertaining to music studies such as how to prepare for a lesson, how to practice, how to memorize repertoire, and more. 

Will I still need to give an End of Semester Performance? 

Yes. End of Semester Performances, sometimes referred to as juries at other institutions, will be worked out individually between teacher and student and submitted, in live or pre-recorded fashion, in week 15 of our semester.

What classes will be fully online in Spring?

We determined that courses using 75% or more lecture format or ones that can work well online, will move to that format, with occasional in-person meetings as appropriate. This was determined by faculty as the most helpful format for student success. A combination of asynchronous and synchronous instruction will be employed. For Spring 2021, the following courses will follow this format:

    • Improvisation, Experimentalism, and Identity
    • Fundamentals of Electronic Music
    • Music in Context
    • Polyphony in Composition

What classes will be hybrid in Spring?

Courses that use less lecture and more “hands-on” learning will move to a hybrid modality, where online instruction will be supplemented by rotating in-person meetings, student-led small groups, and one-on-one meetings with faculty. These courses include:

  • Musicianship II and IV
  • The Practice of Musical Improvisation
  • Generative Seminars (both sections)

What Classes will be in-person in Spring

All of our ensembles will run in a modified “in-person” fashion for Spring 2021. Ensemble size will be capped at 5 students and these will meet in large spaces, suitable for such meetings. Masks and social distancing will be observed at all times and playing time limited to 30 minutes per session.

Will I be able to offer my Cornerstone or Capstone Project?

Yes! All Cornerstone/Capstone projects will run as planned. We will follow Federal, State and Local guidelines for social distancing in live performance and will live stream all performances, potentially increasing audience capacity. Faculty will work with students to help create robust projects when live performances are not what students are primarily interested in. Since PONCHO Hall will not be a safe venue for live performance, we are identifying other spaces around campus for live performance. More details soon!

How will Music students and faculty be kept safe during rehearsals and performances?

All ensembles will be offered in hybrid fashion with only a small amount of in-person meetings taking place in small groups (not more than 10 students) in socially distanced ways in Raisbeck Hall, a 21,000 square foot facility with a new ventilation system.

During rehearsals, students will wear masks and wind/brass players and vocalists will be socially distanced when playing/singing.

All of our performances, including student projects, ensembles, and studios, will take place through live-streaming with no audience or will be pre-recorded, to be shown at our virtual Scores of Sound Festival the week after Thanksgiving.

Will the Scores of Sound Festival still take place? 

Yes! Please visit to see SOS from Fall 2020.

Will I have access to practice spaces, rehearsal spaces, and the recording studio in Kerry Hall? 

Many of the spaces used by the Music Department in Kerry Hall will not provide the conditions required to keep students and faculty safe. Most spaces will be limited to single occupancy use for practicing, and some spaces will be off limits completely. PONCHO Hall will not be available for performances and the basement recording studio will also not be usable. To assist Music students with their work, several practice rooms in Kerry Hall will be outfitted with equipment for recording and streaming, and recording suites, rehearsal rooms, and practice spaces will be available at MCC and the Commons.

What technology will help me be successful in the Music Department in Spring 2021 and beyond?

The list below provides an excellent array of hardware and software that we believe will facilitate learning in spring 2020 and beyond. Additionally, several new technologies have been implemented into the Canvas system, the College’s learning management system, for new teaching and learning methods. Please note that all of the software listed below is also available on the computers in the Kerry Hall lab. 


  • An Apple laptop is industry standard though a PC can also work. Any recent laptop will suffice for running the software and peripherals below. If you would like to discuss incorporating the cost of a laptop purchase into your financial aid package, please be in contact with a member of the Financial Aid team. 

Recording Software (DAW)

  • Ableton Live 10: 90-day Free Trial (renewable through Ableton Rep for at least 180 days). Student cost = $299 (60% off retail price. Please contact the Department Chair for more details.)
  • Logic is an acceptable and suitable DAW alternative

Music Notation Software 

  • Finale: 30-day free trial available. $99 for perpetual student license

Closed-back Monitoring Headphones (best for music and course-related work)

  • Audio Technica ATH-M20x. $49 at


  • Samson Q2U Recording and Podcasting Bundle. $59 at

Recording Device

  • Tascam DR-05X. $89 at (Note: depending on model, a smartphone can also work using a voice-memo app.)

Music Department Statement on Anti-Racism & Inclusivity

(Adopted June 2020)

The Cornish Music Department acknowledges that we have perpetuated racism and bias in our program, and we accept responsibility for not eradicating this at all levels. We will continue to listen, learn, and improve. To that end, as we reimagine our program through new curriculum initiatives, and in the name of anti-racism, reparative action, and inclusivity, we make the following pledges for the 2020-2021 academic year: 

  • OUR newly created four-semester Musicianship curriculum will commit to using musical examples exclusively by composers of color. Further, 75% of those composers will be women or non-binary individuals.
  • ALL guest artists and speakers will be people of color, women, and/or non-binary individuals.
  • ACROSS OUR CURRICULUM, we will examine the historical and contemporary contexts for the erasure of people of color, women, and non-binary individuals from music studies and repertoire choices.
  • WE will document our work at all stages and share freely and publicly with our students and colleagues in our field.
  • WE will use what we learn in the coming academic year to make lasting changes in all areas of our department, as we implement an anti-racist curriculum and one that is truly diverse and inclusive.