NEMPAC Is Here for You: How We’re Adapting our Arts Programming to Facilitate At-Home Learning
As we’ve said time and time again, NEMPAC is your community music school and professional performing arts center. In the midst of these uncertain times, we want you to know that we are here for you and your family.
We sincerely hope that we can help you tap into the power of creative movement, music, performing arts, theatre, and voice during this difficult period, and in doing so, offer some light amid the darkness and some hope within the havoc.
To that end, we want to update you on how we’re adapting our arts programming due to the current environment and share offerings with you to facilitate arts education at home.
Transforming our Community Music School into a Virtual Educational Center
In just a single week, our faculty and staff banded together to transition private music instruction and in-person music education courses online. To date, more than 90 percent of our instructors have transitioned the majority if not the entirety of their offerings to virtual formats, approximately half of our students enrolled in private music instruction are now taking lessons online, and 100 percent of our in-house music education courses are now streamed.
In addition, over 840 students enrolled in on-site arts programming at our partner sites and nearly 100 students signed up for our in-house music education courses this spring will be participating in online coursework by this month.
Allie Meek-Carufel, NEMPAC’s educational programs director, speaks to how NEMPAC’s virtual educational center facilitates accessibility through the arts. “The education team worked diligently to immerse themselves in resources and best practices of virtual learning. We aim to integrate music education and technology to foster accessibility. For example, through SmartMusic, students now have access to a large array of method books, repertoire, recording abilities, and videos, that they otherwise would not have had before. Most of the platforms we are using allow closed captioning audio content and whiteboard and screen sharing options for students who are visual learners. It offers playback and recording options for auditory learners, and instructors can direct students to use their bodies in different exercises for those who are kinesthetic learners. Using online gaming tools to keep music energized, fun and modern is easier than ever!”
Transitioning Arts Programming at Partner Sites to Virtual Formats
We’re in awe of the remarkable efforts by our faculty in transitioning in-person learning at our partner sites to an online format. We attribute the speed at which our teachers are launching virtual instruction platforms and programs to our community’s unwavering commitment to fostering accessibility through the arts.
For example, Stefano Marchese, a NEMPAC instructor and music director, developed an online music learning site for students at the BPS Eliot K-8 Innovation School to ensure continuity of in-school instruction and after-school band, choir, and ensemble programming. Marchese leveraged several resources, such as MusicFirst, QuaverMusic, and SmartMusic, to provide students access to ear-training exercises, method books, music notation software, and more. To date, Marchese has successfully transitioned music coursework online for 731 Eliot students.
Marchese discussed how music can lift the community’s spirits during this difficult time. “On my virtual classrooms, students can sign up for office hours. This is a video call where we can communicate and get help if needed. I have had students who signed up just to see me or share with me something that they have been playing since school closure. I think it is our responsibility as music educators, or music organizations like NEMPAC, to continue offering children and adults opportunities to access music instructions, performances, and nevertheless creativity. William Shakespeare wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on.” I think, not only that music is the food of love, but also the primary light for our souls and our minds. So, stream, record, write, play on!”
Free Twice-Weekly Arts Education Workshops for Families via Instagram Live
In an effort to offer continuous community enrichment through the arts, we host free online programs for families at 10:30 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. Our wish for these 30-minute classes, guided by our faculty, staff, or teaching artists, is to fuel the boundless creativity of our students. From a Disney-themed sing-along to a family dance and movement class, our virtual offerings cater to all artistic styles and tastes.
Allie Meek-Carufel, NEMPAC’s educational program director, reflects on the 501(c)(3)’s motivation in transforming its community music school into a virtual education center. “Now, more than ever, students are going to need an outlet to express themselves and have an activity to keep them occupied, engaged in music, and keep the normalcy of a schedule. Moving arts classes online during a time of crisis is key in a student’s life. Their sense of normalcy is gone, and they are now facing a lack of social engagement, expression, and may feel confused, scared, or isolated. We offer these online workshops so students can tap into the transformative power of the arts to lift their spirits, keep their mind and imaginations moving, and continue their growth as a young musician, actor, or dancer.”
Finally, we’re very much sensitive to the way this global public health crisis has impacted local artists in our community. If you’re able, would you consider donating via Venmo (@Nempac-Boston) after participating in a family class? All proceeds will be given to our teachers who have done so much to foster community within the NEMPAC family during this challenging time.
Virtual Open Mic Community Night
This Friday, April 3, we’ll host an Open Mic Community Night via Zoom, fostering virtual connections among friends and neighbors during this hour of non-stop dance, music, and song! We invite artists of all ages and abilities to share their talents during what will be a very special evening.
On that note, we’re empathetic to the disappointment that many students are currently feeling due to postponed spring concerts and recitals. Keeping this in mind, the Open Mic Community Night was created to serve two purposes.
First, we hope to offer our amazing students a supportive virtual venue to showcase their growth as artists, dancers, musicians, performers and vocalists. Second, we hope that this online open mic night will remind our community that even though we’re apart right now, we will never be alone.
To watch the online community night, join this Zoom meeting at 6 p.m. this Friday, April 3.
NEMPAC Instrument Fund
We serve over 1,400 students per week through in-house education courses, private and group music instruction and on-site arts programming at area schools. Some of the students enrolled in our community music school do not have access to a musical instrument at home.
We launched the NEMPAC Instrument Fund to help make sure that all of our students—regardless of socioeconomic status—can participate in in-home arts education during this unprecedented time. We’re asking you and our community at large to consider sponsoring an instrument for a child in need by contributing to this fund. Every dollar counts, and no amount is too small to make a big difference.
To donate, please visit NEMPAC’s Venmo account (@Nempac-Boston) and indicate your contribution should be given to the “Instrument Fund.” Also, we’re accepting in-kind donations of the following instruments: cellos, clarinets, flutes, guitars, keyboards, saxophones, trombones, trumpets, violins, violas, and ukuleles. If you have an instrument that you’re willing to donate, please email Allie Meek-Carufel at firstname.lastname@example.org, and our education team will coordinate a safe instrument pick-up and drop-off that adheres to social distancing guidelines.