How are AEC member institutions dealing with the COVID-19 crisis? See what some colleagues from all over Europe have answered to the following questions:
1) How have the learning and teaching activities in your institution been handled during the crisis?
 2) How are you planning the upcoming exam and entrance examinations session?
 3) Did you put in place any solution for students to practice
Dimitrios Marinos, Athens Conservatoire, Greece
1. The institution is completely closed. It has been decided for the suspension of the academic year for the practical courses  and online continuation for the theoretical ones.

2. Possible postponment of 2nd semester exams to September.

3. Teaching staff should be in constant contact with students / exchanging videos and feedback (for the practical courses) 

The above applies to all three departments of the Athens Conservatoire: Music / Drama / Dance. Apart from the suspension of the academic year other options have been discussed such as moving few courses to September, before the start of the new academic year or even skipping them for the current academic year and include them in the following academic year.

Jan-Gerd, Prins Claus Conservatorium, Groningen, The Netherlands
1. The conservatoire is closed. It is possible to only have online lessons until at least June 1st. All classes until then are taking place online, except for ensembles and chamber music, which are not taking place at all. For these subjects alternative forms a being developed.

2. Auditions will be held online, with video for music (and assessment of those by the teachers), and a skype conversation on motivation with 2-3 members of the jury online. Final exams are still under discussion. They will either take place also digitally by video or live with a limited number of audience or will be postponed to a later date in August or September.

3. If students are not able to practice at home, or don’t have the right equipment, we are planning to open up the school again for these purposes. Only students of the Final Year are allowed to use the facilities. A wider circle is being discussed, but nothing is decided yet.

Esther Viñuela, Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain
1. Learning and Teaching Activities:
– Online classes: Through Office 365 TEAMS platform, an online collaboration application, both theoretical lessons and individual classes have been reallocated. The students and teachers can upload their documents and work online, save and share these documents in real time as well as make presentations or others.
– Videoconference: All the educational community, students and teachers, communicate through videoconference.
– Chamber Music: Several measures are being undertaken to face this challenge:
Videoconferences to work on individual parts
Written essays about performance analysis of an assigned chamber music piece
Chamber music groups record themselves, send the recording and, afterwards, the recording id analysed and discussed in group sessions
– Subjects non eligible for online platforms such as work with collaborative pianists: Area teachers are working in groups and proposing syllabus adaptations and designing activities for individual or small group sessions.

2. Exams
– Auditions: They will be held through an online platform from the end of May to mid-June.
– Evaluation:

  • Recitals: The process design has not been completed yet, and it will require an adaptation that could affect part of the repertoire, emphasising solo works.
  • Theoretical subjects: Online theoretical exams will be carried out using test forms and continuous learning will be considered. 

The Dean Office is actively consulting with a wide group of European institutions of similar characteristics, sharing impressions on what are the best options, formats, platforms, etc. for both auditions and evaluations. At this point we are considering delaying our Master Recitals to September, and we are still exploring whether to do the same for Bachelor Recitals, or otherwise award the degrees on the basis on the students’ continuous learning during the year (and the rest of the degree).

3. Practicing
– Chamber music rehearsals: We continue exploring different options to find platforms without sound compression and especially low latency that facilitate remote chamber music rehearsals. This would also impact positively on the work of the accompanying pianists. Options are few and potentially costly (not available to all students). We continue to research and consult.
– Complementary piano practice: For the complementary piano students who do not have an instrument at their confinement locations, we are also supporting teachers with the syllabus adaptation: rhythm and coordination tasks; comparisons of sound registers; memorization of repertoire; and reflective research.
– Piano students: A very few students lack access to a piano, or even a keyboard. This situation is difficult to remedy in confinement and we are exploring the rental of certain types of keyboards for those in a financial situation which does not allow them to absorb this cost. 

Christofer Fredriksson, Stockholm University of the Arts, Sweden
1. Stockholm University of the Arts respects the recommendation of the Government and the Public Health Agency saying that all universities have to close down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Teaching is recommended instead to be conducted through distance learning, not in the regular premises. All premises of Stockholm University of the Arts have been closed for all students, with no exceptions, from 19 March. All employees who can work from home should do that until further notice. Canvas is to be used in all distance learning and has now been delivered to the production environment. For individual online teaching Zoom, Skype, FaceTime is used, but it’s really tricky for the opera students. It’s still in some kind of testing-phase.

2. All admission tests planned to take place at Stockholm University of the Arts are postponed until further notice. More information is given to those affected. Stockholm University of the Arts is also investigating alternative ways of conducting admissions tests where possible. For now we are keeping the dates of our final exams, but things might change in the coming weeks.

Cristina Frosini, Conservatorio di Musica “G. Verdi" di Milano, Italy
1. The Conservatory immediately activated online teaching by setting up an institutional platform through Microsoft's Teams software. To date, about 1000 lessons have been held, both individual and collective, by about 60-65% of the teachers. For the moment, 74% of the total number of people involved are already registered on the platform, given that it will increase with the start of the second semester courses. We plan to carry out all the lessons through the "remote" mode in order to guarantee the correct conclusion of the academic year. This is also thanks to the reformulation of the curriculum programs in order to adapt them to e-learning teaching. We strongly doubt that the Conservatory can reopen its premises before September. However, if, as we hope, the emergency ends earlier, we will evaluate the possibility of organizing lessons even during the summer months to recover the activities that it may not have been possible to carry out "remotely". 

2.  For the theoretical disciplines we are about to start the first online exams through the institutional Teams platform. More problematic, however, is the question relating to the instrumental disciplines, for which we are evaluating the possibility of carrying out the exams by sending video recordings. It should be noted, however, that few piano, organ and harpsichord students own an instrument that could be considered qualitatively valid and suitable for taking an exam. Admissions to the next academic year were postponed to September. It is understood that, regardless of the modality, the Conservatory will guarantee the performance of all the exams essential for the students' academic career.

3.  Unfortunately – due to understandable government provisions introduced to contain the spread of the epidemic – with the closure of the Conservatory offices, the possibility of providing students with adequate space for study has ceased, also considering the unpredictability of the emergency in Lombardy that has left no time to organize differently. Students are assisted in all respects through online services, both educational and administrative. Regarding psychological assistance, this is not provided by the Conservatory. This type of service is however guaranteed by local health facilities. In any case, no request was received from the students. However, emotional and psychological support is provided informally by teachers, especially those from individual disciplines. The latter, in fact, both by their own initiative and sensitivity, and by indication of this Direction, maintain close contact with their students, through multiple remote communication channels (Microsoft teams, telephone, whatsapp, etc …), supporting them and motivating them in the study.

Frauke Velghe, KASK and Gent Konservatorium, Ghent, Belgium
1. Both KASK (the Royal Academy of Fine Arts) and our Conservatory will not close, but will go completely digital. Everyone will continue to work but will work from home, unless it is impossible to do so.On March 24, in the Flemish Council of Universities of Applied Sciences (VLHORA), the general directors of all Flemish Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts have decided to continue digital education until the 18th of May. From that day on, educational activities that are difficult to organise digitally, will be allowed to be organised on campus. This only applies to necessary educational activities and strict preventative measures have to be taken into account. We have every reason to believe that the current crisis measures will remain in place for a long time to come, which is why we choose to continue with digital education and/or an alternative approach for all course units. We will follow the regular timetables as much as possible in the remaining lesson weeks of this academic year. In order not to get the students into trouble, we ask that the real time digital lessons take place at the hours they were provided for in the regular timetable. It is the responsibility of each teacher to organize the educational activities themselves and to keep the students informed about them.

2. As much as possible, we would like to continue with the evaluations and juries of practical subjects in June. At the moment we are also researching whether adjusting and reorganizing the exam periods can offer solutions for the current crisis. Possibly the first week of July will also be used for evaluation activities, deliberations and feedback moments. Our Graduation Week will be moved to September. 

3. Lecturers are in constant contact with students in a digital format. Unfortunately our studios, practice and classrooms cannot be used in any way until we have approval to reopen. We have regular updates and meetings on the coronacrisis with our administrative staff in order to work out a plan for the following months.

Tryggvi M. Baldvinsson, Iceland University of the Arts, Reykjavík, Iceland
1.     The Department of Music has been closed to students since March 15th (following a mandate from the government regarding all universities and secondary schools in Iceland). All courses which could be transferred to an online setting were changed immediately and teaching was not postponed. As a result, all theoretical courses and private lessons are taught online whereas chamber music, ensembles and accompaniment lessons have been cancelled. Teachers and Programme Directors kept in contact with their students. For instance, in one study programme, all students and teachers have met online every morning for a chat, to keeping up routine and moral. It was decided to follow the academic calendar as much as possible and as planned, we will finish our teaching on May 15th and graduation go ahead as planned on June 19th.

2.     Currently, the plan is that all Universities in Iceland will be allowed to open up again on May 4th, two weeks before the last day of teaching. Regardless, almost all group courses will be completed online (due to remaining restrictions). Our graduating students will take priority in our facilities (practice rooms, studios, etc.) as they push to finish their graduation assignments. Graduating students in composition will not have their works performed (which is usually the case), but assessment will be based on the score/audio file, a written reflection and an interview. We aim to have students’ pieces recorded in the fall. Graduating students in performance will have their final concerts in the last week of May and the first week of June. Students not graduating this year will not have any concerts or events of any kind but will receive private lessons in person for the last two weeks. Their principal study will be assessed on their work throughout this semester. We have had to change our entrance process completely. First of all, the application deadline has been extended to May 4th (from March 23rd) giving us a much tighter timeframe to work within. Traditional auditions will not take place. Instead, applicants will submit video recordings of performances and interviews with admission committees will be online. Knowledge in music theory and harmony will be tested online.

3.     As our students are not allowed to enter our buildings, we are unable to provide them with practice space. However, our students have been very resourceful in finding places to practice (this was monitored by programme directors). Most of them found a way to practice at home or in other places they could access.

Erato Alakiozidou, Thessaloniki State Conservatory, Thessaloniki, Greece
1. Thessaloniki State Conservatory is completely closed. The same regulation is for all institutions in the country.
Possible opening will be decided during the next days. On line courses are recomended .
2. Ministry of Culture didnt make a desicion yet. They are waiting for the desicion of the Ministry of culture. Universities will be open on September. For the schools desicion will be made the next following days. For the Conservatories probably will be an extension until 10 of july and early opening in September. Could be a postponment of the 2nd semester exams to September. Nothing is comfirmed yet.
3. Academic staff is in contact with students via skype, messanger, viber, whats up,and webex 

Georgia Petroudi, European University Cyprus
1. Our university – European University Cyprus moved all conventional courses to an online platform on March 16th.  There was a lot of technical and infrastructure experience since we have been offering degrees via distance learning, so online platforms such as Blackboard and Microsoft Teams were already available.  This made the transition quite smooth.  Practical courses and individual instrumental tuition had to adjust to this new environment, however we were offered continuous support by our university’s IT department.

2. This online transition led to a number of adjustments regarding instrumental juries and entrance examinations.  These exams will be video recorded, in a continuous phase, without separating tracks for each composition.  Students will send to the exam committee their video recordings, and will also be asked to present a partial portion of their program via one of the online platforms as a complementary part of the exam. 
Entrance examinations will temporarily be held via one of these platforms, however the audition period will be extended so that hopefully we will be able to return to our premises in order to conduct auditions.

3. Most students can practice at home so their practice pattern has not changed greatly.  However, they are in more often contact with their instructors, sending back and forth recordings (beyond the lesson time) for feedback.

Ira Prodanov,  Academy of Arts, Aademy of Arts, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
1. The Academy of Arts was closed on March the 16th and the complete teaching went online. Almost all professors have developed their courses on the SOVA online platform for learning of the university, but there are some that have already worked online sending teaching material and Ppt presentation on TRELLO platform. Due to the fact that a lot of students are from small cities, or even villages without strong WIFI for live streaming and live sessions, numerous professor started to audio record their lectures sending them via emails to students. Also, ZOOM and Skype lectures are conducted. According to google questionnaire that I have created, we found out that the students are satisfied, that they feel "almost as they were at the Academy", and that the recorded lectures are adequate substitute for live lectures. They are delighted with some courses and even suggest that some professors "should be deans, because they are diligent and extra hard working" (sic!). [☺]
 2. All the pre-exam obligations are allowed to be done online, but according to the law for higher education of the Republic of Serbia, we are not allowed to do exams online. So, we hope that we would be able to get back to "normal life" till the end of June and to continue the exams period live.

3. Most of our students have instruments at home. Practicing in ensembles is now most difficult but they work individually with their professors of chamber music. One student pointed out in our questionnaire about the corona time studying, that the good thing about practicing is that when they have lack of "enthusiasm" for practicing, they simply call their professors and ask for extra lesson and they get it!

Patrick Roger, Teacher in various institutions, France
1. The answer differed from institution to institution. I teach stage fright management in several of the Higher Music Poles.
One Pole immediately asked me to continue my courses by videoconference.
One Pole told me to just get in touch with the students via the student association without any precise instructions and without payment.
Three institutions didn't even contact me.
Each time, the videoconferences were very much appreciated. The students were happy to see each other again and to be able to explain their situation and ask for precise help in important areas: sleep, motivation and concentration in particular.​

2. I'm not the one managing the entrance exams but apparently everything is done on video.

3.Yes, I got back in touch with my students and invited them to Zoom for videoconferences with theory, exercises recorded in mp3 to redo at home and a series of questions/answers.
They can also send me videos and the score and I give them a precise verbal feedback.

Do you want to share your experience with the AEC community and enrich this article? please write an email with your experience to by answering to the 3 questions that you find at the beginning of this article