Fall 2020 FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions – Fall 2020

This FAQ page is specific to the Covid-19 pandemic, although there is some overlap with the questions we normally field. Our website also provides answers to many general questions about courses, lessons, chamber music, ensembles, people, instruments, etc.

Music Courses

Q: What courses are the Music Department offering this fall?

A: The course list and descriptions are found on the front page of the Music website as well as the https://catalog.williams.edu/


Q: How do I contact a professor with questions about a music course?

A: Our Music website has a list of all the faculty with both emails and office phone numbers. Feel free to reach out to them with any questions you might have. E-mail might be the fastest way to get a response, since some faculty will be remote.


Q: I wanted to take MUS 102, Introduction to Music Theory, but it’s not offered. Is there another way I can study music basic musicianship this year?

A: We are offering Musicianship as a half credit lesson option this year. You would be paired with teacher for 10 individual musicianship/theory lessons, either for a grade or P/F. Contact Prof. Wadsworth or Gollin for more information.


Q: I am a music major and/or considering majoring in music. With the pandemic in place, to whom should I direct questions about my major/course work?

A: Any full-time professor can help guide you or answer any question about the music major. However, Ed Gollin, Music Department Chair, will be your academic adviser and can help in planning your course work.


Q: Whom do I contact about Honors Thesis?

A: Any questions regarding the thesis can be directed towards the Department Chair, Ed Gollin, the sooner the better, since completed proposals are due at the end of spring break.



Q: Are individual instrumental and voice lessons being offered this year?

A: Yes, half-credit lessons are being offered in voice and all instruments we typically offer.  Lessons are still fully subsidized, and can be taken for a grade or P/F.


Q: Do I have to audition for lessons or ensembles?

A: Sometimes no, sometimes yes. The following studios/ensembles have (Zoom) auditions: piano, violin, Zambezi. All the rest only require you consult with the instructor before signing up, or they require you to consult and submit a pre-recorded file or video.


Q: Are instrumental/voice lessons remote?

A: Most voice and wind instruction will be remote. Some instruments will be offering hybrid instruction, with some in-person instruction, and some remote instruction. The best way to figure this out is to contact the instructor(s).


Q: I’m a beginner but I’d love to learn voice, or take up an instrument. Can I find a teacher?

A: Some studios do take on beginners. It depends on the teacher and the situation. We encourage you to look up the teacher(s) who offer lessons in what you are interested in and contact them directly. You might also consider taking Musicianship as a lesson option, which is another way to learn reading and rhythmic skills as a foundation for voice or instrument study. Contact Prof. Wadsworth or Gollin for more information about Musicianship.


Q: Is there a special studio for remote lessons?

A: No. Remote lessons can take place anywhere that you can safely play. If you are a percussionist or play a large instrument like harp, the instructor might have a specific location for the lesson, but that is no different than usual. This may change as we move on and we gather more information about how best to conduct lessons.


Q: My teacher would like me to submit a recording/video as part of an audition. How do I do that?

A: Go to this portal, answer the questions and upload.


Q: If my sound quality is a problem, does the department have any equipment to help me out?

A: The music department is in the process of working out how best to support audio needs for students and teachers learning remotely.  Some audio quality problems can be improved with a USB microphone.  If you have an external USB mic for your computer, by all means bring it, and your teacher can provide information on optimizing audio settings on their preferred remote instruction software.  The department is hoping to supply USB microphones to those who need them, but details are still being worked out.



Q: Can I have a locker to store my instrument in the music building?

A: Yes, if you are taking lessons or enrolled in a music course. Contact Michelle Picard at [email protected].


Q: Can I borrow equipment and instruments from the music department?

A: The department owns a few instruments to lend, if you are taking lessons or part of an ensemble. Please contact Michelle Picard for more details [email protected]. For hygiene reasons, loaned instruments cannot to be shared.


Q: Are there hygiene protocols for instruments that are shared like harp? sitar? bass? piano? percussion? harpsichord?

A: Yes. Ask your instructor about how to handle this exactly.


Chamber Music

Q: Will there be Chamber Music for credit/non-credit this semester?

A: Yes, Chamber Music can be taken as a half-credit or non-credit activity. Contact an instructor to learn more about specific opportunities.

*Strings and piano (Ah Ling Neu or Muneko Otani)

*Woodwinds (Stephen Walt)

*Chinese Instruments (Wang Guowei)

*Percussion (Matthew Gold)

*Jazz (Kris Allen)

*Brass (Travis Dobson)


Q: Where will Chamber Music meet?

A: Bernhard 30, 29, 28, and 27, and the Chapin Board Room will be available for chamber music rehearsals and in-person coaching. Contact Michelle Picard at [email protected] to schedule reservations. For Chamber Music coaching by live stream, it is possible to reserve Chapin Hall and/or Shainman Wednesday through Saturday. Contact Jonathan Myers at [email protected].


Q: My teacher would like me to submit a recording/video. How do I do that?

A: Go to this portal, answer the questions and upload.



Q: What ensembles are meeting this semester?

A: The ones that can spread out, use masks, make music safely in a large hall. Specifically, you can join…

Williams Percussion Ensemble (Matt Gold)

Zambezi Marimba Band (Tendai Muparutsa)

Small Jazz Ensembles (Kris Allen) – we are planning to run a number of small jazz combos


…there are also these remote groups….

Virtual Chinese Music Ensemble (Wang Guowei)

Virtual Chorus of Williams (Paul LaRosa)


There are also opportunities to participate in various chamber music ensembles.  For string, and string/keyboard chamber music, contact Muneko Otano or AhLing Neu; for woodwind chamber, contact Stephen Walt; for brass, contact Travis Dobson.


Q: My ensemble director would like me to submit a recording/video. How do I do that?

A: Go to this portal, answer the questions and upload.


Practice Rooms and Halls

Q: When can I use a practice room?

A: You can use practice rooms when the building is open, 7am-midnight M-F, and noon-10pm on weekends. Practice rooms are restricted to students taking a music course, taking music lessons, or are in a department ensemble or chamber music group. You can only practice for 1 hr maximum at a time in a room. After you leave, the room must remain empty for one hour. (see the guidelines below)

All musicians are responsible for 1) wiping down all horizontal surfaces, including music stands before and after use, and 2) logging out with name and the time you left.


Q: What are the rules for practice rooms?
A:  The basic rules (for performers of instruments such as piano, strings, guitar) are as follows:

  • Masks must be worn in practice rooms at all times.
  • Rooms can be used for a maximum of 1 hour of consecutive use by a user.
  • Rooms must be left unoccupied for a half an hour between users.
  • Only one person is allowed in a practice room at a time.
  • Students must wash their hands and apply hand sanitizer before use, and must wipe down keyboards, benches, and music desks with supplied disinfecting cloths before and after use.


For voice:

  • Specific practice rooms are designated for voice and wind performers.
  • Vocalists will still need to practice with a mask (the department will supply masks designed for singers—contact your teacher to obtain a mask).
  • Singers may use a room for a maximum of one hour.
  • The room must be left unoccupied for an hour after use by a singer.
  • If using a room with a piano, users must wipe down the keyboard and benches and horizontal surfaces after use.


For wind players (flute, woodwind, brass):

  • Specific practice rooms are designated for voice and wind performers.
  • Users must wear a mask when not playing, and only lower the mask to play.
  • Wind players may use a room for a maximum of one hour.
  • The room must be left unoccupied for an hour after use by a wind player.
  • If using a room with a piano, users must wipe down the keyboard and benches and horizontal surfaces after use.


Q: Can individuals sign out larger halls or classrooms?

A:  Courses and large ensembles have priority in larger spaces. We encourage musicians to seek out appropriate-sized spaces for their activity. There are many practice rooms for individuals, a few classrooms appropriate for 2-4 musicians in established department ensembles. The concert halls are prioritized for ensemble rehearsals, especially if they involve wind instruments. Remember, all rooms require a lot of downtime so that they can air out. Access to the music building is restricted to students taking music courses or participating in music department ensembles. NOTE: Because a room is empty, it does not mean it is free to use! All rooms, except practice rooms, must be reserved in advance through Michelle Picard or Jonathan Myers.


Q: Can small groups like chamber groups or small jazz combos rehearse in larger halls?

A: Yes. To reserve Chapin, Brooks Rogers, or Shainman contact Jonathan Myers at [email protected]. For all other room reservations contact Michelle Picard [email protected]. However, please keep in mind the restrictions in place for social distancing when requesting a certain size room.



Q: What concerts and events are planned for the fall? Will they be streamed?

A: Concerts this fall will be streamed. Concert planning will begin after everyone has arrived and we have sorted everyone into groups.


Q: How can I find out about events?

A: Keep an eye on our website. Also, on the homepage there is a space to sign up for an emailed newsletter.



Q: Where can I sing unmasked?

A: The only place you can sing unmasked is in your dorm room, pod, or outside.


Q: What about Concert Choir or a cappella?

A: Virtual Choir of Williams is making a debut this fall. You can learn more about V-CoW on our website or at our Open House. Our traditional choral ensembles will not rehearse or perform during the pandemic. Likewise, student choral groups and a cappella groups cannot rehearse or perform in Music Department spaces.