Campus & Culture

Senior Recitals in Music, Voice and Theatre Are Going Virtual

Saint Joseph’s Department of Music, Theatre and Film used creativity to ensure that 2020 graduates would still have a meaningful senior recital experience.

A theater with a red curtain.

For Saint Joseph’s music, voice and theatre students, four years of study and dedication to their craft typically culminates in performing a senior recital live for the University community. When classes moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Music, Theatre and Film looked for a creative way to ensure that graduating seniors would still have a recital experience.

Suzanne Sorkin, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the department, had two mandates for going virtual: creating a meaningful learning environment and supporting the community even as students were spread across different cities and states.

After consulting colleagues in music departments across higher education, Sorkin believed that seniors could give their final performances in a virtual environment. In what she estimates took about 10 days, Sorkin was able to secure the necessary materials and support students would need to continue their coursework from home.

“We asked guitar students if they had access to the instrument from their home; if they said no, I worked to make sure that every student who needed one would have one. For our voice students, we worked with accompanists who would record the tracks the students would need to prepare for their spring juries,” says Sorkin.

The community now comes together via Zoom. For those enrolled in music theory, the classes meet online during the designated time and students and professors analyze, create and critique various music pieces in real-time as a group. When necessary, professors will pre-record music from their pianos and email them to students so they can have it as reference for classroom discussion.

“We’re providing much of the same instruction that we were before,” says Sorkin.

Seniors who are preparing for their final performances receive private lessons via Zoom where they are able to receive real-time feedback and instruction.

Senior recitals begin in April and will take place via livestream. The recitals are open to all. Interested audience members should visit the University Calendar for more information on dates, times and how to access the performances.

“Our students have been working really hard and are excited to share the culmination of four years of study with the University community,” Sorkin says. “They will perform at their highest levels despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.”