Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Campus Update, September 23, 9 a.m.: UW–Madison resumed some in-person activities and is maintaining strict health measures. Read the details.

The following list of FAQs offers more guidance on operations specifically related to the Mead Witter School of Music during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans may change in response to current community health conditions, so please check this page often for updates. Questions related to the School of Music can be sent to music@music.wisc.edu.

The information contained in our FAQs, especially as it relates to how we’re occupying the building and how faculty are carrying out music instruction, has all received scrupulous oversight by multiple university offices.

UW-Madison’s Smart Restart site at smartrestart.wisc.edu will also be continuously updated. General questions related to campus operations can be sent to askbucky@uwmad.wisc.edu or call Campus and Visitor Relations at 608-263-2400.

For additional information on how the university has responded to the coronavirus, please see the COVID-19 website.

While the responses found in our FAQs below are directed toward activities within the School of Music, students, faculty, and staff should follow all state, local, and university guidelines at all times to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Advising and instruction

How will studio lessons work?

Updated September 10

All in-person instruction, including studio lessons, for undergraduate and graduate students is suspended and must be delivered remotely through September 25 as per the Chancellor’s message sent to campus on September 9. 


Originally posted August 10 (outdated at least through Sept. 25)

While studio teaching formats will vary among instructors, there are a few common elements. Lessons will generally be taught online, an approach that worked very well in Spring 2020. Some instructors will be willing to teach face-to-face, depending upon the student’s comfort level, but this will always take place with appropriate distancing and, when possible, wearing masks. 

Whether these lessons can be in faculty studios will depend upon the size and configuration of the studio. Master classes (studio classes) may be held weekly or periodically, and whether these can be held as in-person gatherings will depend upon availability of appropriate space. 

For wind instruments and (especially) vocalists the need for distancing will be much greater, and the School of Music is still working with the University to arrive at a policy for lessons, chamber music, rehearsals, and performances. Please contact your instructor after August 24 for more specific details.

How will lecture classes work?

Updated September 10

All in-person instruction, including studio lessons, for undergraduate and graduate students is suspended and must be delivered remotely through September 25 as per the Chancellor’s message sent to campus on September 9. 


Original August 10 post (outdated until at least September 25)

Most lecture classes in the MWSoM’s Fall course listing will be offered online. There are some courses that will meet face-to-face regularly or occasionally. Communicate with your instructor after August 24 about course details.

How will discussion sections work?

Most discussion sections will be held online, an approach that proved very effective in Spring 2020. Teaching Assistants are up to date on the latest techniques for online instruction.

Posted August 10

What technology do I need to participate in virtual studio instruction?

Needs will vary according to the performance medium, but most studio faculty find it useful for the student to be able to make a good recording of one or two practice sessions during each week. A laptop with video is generally preferable among faculty for online lessons. We recommend the Blue Yeti Mic, or most USB microphones from Audio Technica and Rode. We will make the mics available to incoming students via their studio faculty. Students should plan to pick up mics if they’re on campus or arrange to have the mic sent to them.

Posted August 10

Where should I go for additional tech resources and support?

A good place to start for tech resources support is smartrestart.wisc.edu/students. In the section “Academic Support,” there is a column titled “Virtual Learning” that has valuable resources.

For tech support, you can also reach out to the DoIT help desk. Different options of how to connect with DoIT can be found at the bottom of this link: kb.wisc.edu/helpdesk

Posted September 2

Will I be able to attend 100% remote and take all the classes I need to stay on track?

In general, yes. While faculty are encouraged to make fundamental materials available online for students, in some cases there may be difficulty accessing lectures that are not recorded asynchronously.

Posted August 10

Will all courses have a remote section?

No, some courses will only have in-person offerings. Some courses will only have remote sections. There is no requirement to have both modalities (in-person, remote) available for every course.

Posted August 20

Can I opt out of attending f2f instruction in the fall if I don’t have a medical related reason? What if a remote option is not offered for a class?

Yes. Any student can take all of their courses remotely this fall. You don’t need to demonstrate any particular justification and don’t need to secure anyone’s approval or even advise anyone of that decision.  

Students are advised to go to https://advising.wisc.edu/fall2020/ to make adjustments to their schedules. The FAQs there include instructions on how to narrow the course search to find only remote courses. Students who need assistance (for example, a student who needs a course to graduate or progress that isn’t offered remotely) are advised to contact their academic advisor.

Posted August 10

What will happen if one of my instructors gets sick?

As has always been the case, we will do everything we can to find an instructor with comparable knowledge and background to cover for the instructor during any extended absence.

Posted August 10

What is the instructor’s role if a student tests positive?

The instructor’s role is to provide reasonable accommodations for students if they are unable to attend class because they must quarantine, self-isolate, or are experiencing possible COVID-19 related symptoms. It is students’ responsibility to tell instructors they need to miss class and need accommodations for their illness.

In-person instructors will be notified if an enrolled student in their class has tested positive, but they don’t need to take additional action (and won’t be told who tested positive). Contact tracing, notification, quarantine and all the other related public health actions are the responsibility of public health officials and UHS. Because of processing steps, instructors may hear from the student who has tested positive before UHS contacts them.

Posted September 9

Will the SD/UD grading option be available in the fall?

The SD/UD grading option for Spring 2020 was offered due to the unexpected disruptions caused by Covid-19. The SD/UD grading option will not be offered for the Fall 2020 semester, as comprehensive plans are in place to ensure continuity of instruction. All standard grading and drop policies will remain in effect.

Posted August 10

Can I choose to take the Fall semester off?

Admission to the MWSoM is based not only upon a student’s audition, but also on there being a place for that student in a faculty member’s studio. If you are considering taking a semester or year off, be sure to check first with your instructor to assure that there will be room in the studio for you in future.

You may attend part-time. However, if you receive financial aid, you may not be eligible for it if you enroll part-time.

Posted August 10

How will any disruptions affect my music scholarship eligibility?

For undergraduate students, the usual rules for full-time enrollment, satisfactory progress in the major, minimum GPA’s, and enrollment in a large performing organization are all in effect for Fall, 2020. If a student does not meet these requirements, the scholarship will be forfeited for the semester; however, if the student chooses either to take reduced enrollment or take the semester or year off, the scholarship will usually be resumed as long as the student meets enrollment requirements by the next semester or by Fall, 2021.

For graduate students, funding is usually specific to a particular semester. Taking a semester off from enrollment may mean forfeiting the funding for that semester. There may be exceptions. Check with the Director of Graduate Studies or the Graduate Admissions and Funding Coordinator for details.

Posted August 10

How can I tell what the mode of instruction is for my courses?

If a student is not able to find the courses they need in the modality they want after going through the steps found at advising.wisc.edu/fall2020, they should contact their advisor. Advisors are likely receiving many requests for help right now, so there might be a delay in their response and longer wait times for an appointment.

Posted August 10

Will I be able to take the practical Music Ed classes required for certification?

Yes. All classes originally scheduled for Fall 2020 remain in the Course Guide and will be offered, including field experience courses such as practica and student teaching.

Posted August 10

How do I acquiring an electronic keyboard for Musica Practica 1?

Owing to the virus, Musica Practica 1 will be meeting online this semester. Musica Practica 2 will meet online next semester as well.

As a means of making singing and eartraining easier to do, we’re asking everyone in the course to purchase an electronic keyboard—it’s a requirement. We will be using these keyboards (1) for singing and eartraining, (2) in acquiring basic piano skills, (3) as a means of dealing with music in two or more voices, and (4) in doing assignments. You will need a keyboard with 61 or more keys—five octaves across. You may use an electric piano if you already have one, but electric pianos tend to be more expensive; we anticipate that nearly everyone in the course will be using an electronic keyboard.

Some of you may already have one, in which case you’re set. For those who don’t, we have arranged for a group discount on a YAMAHA PSR-E273 from Full Compass Systems in nearby Middleton, Wisconsin. The discounted price is $125.36; it includes expedited ordering and free shipping. To take advantage of this offer, call Full Compass at 1-800-356-5844 and reference account number CUC2502148; the name on the account is UW–MADISON/MUSICA PRACTICA. Phone orders only; the discount is not available on the Full Compass website.

UW–Madison receives no proceeds from these sales. The Yamahas will ship in 7-10 business days, so please place your order as soon as you register for the course.

You will be using this keyboard at every single section meeting. You will be seated in front of or next to the keyboard while attending sections. Without a piano of some sort, we won’t be able to do much eartraining, which is our main brief. For a complete list of required materials for this course, see the course listing for Music 121 in either the Search Course & Enroll or the Courses widget in MyUW.

Posted August 12

Building operations and safety

What is being done to make the Mosse Humanities Building safer?

A safety protocol has been developed by the administrative team at the School of Music and approved by the Dean. It incorporates relevant information from the Smart Restart plan. This protocol establishes safe room occupancy limits, traffic flow to minimize contact, cleaning instructions for classrooms and common areas (including restrooms) and the requirement and proper use of PPE. 

All upholstered furniture in the Strelow Lounge, a former common area accessible to all in 1st floor Humanities, has been removed and stored where it cannot be accessed. A small number of study carrels—spaced at least six feet apart—were available for student use, but we have eliminated this option for now as per the Chancellor’s message regrading study spaces issued September 9.

Physical Plant has ensured that the air filters in the HVAC systems are the best that can feasibly be used in the air handlers. That does not mean HEPA filtration, but the filters used provide as much air cleaning as possible while still allowing sufficient air flow.

Posted August 10
Updated with additional information on Strelow Lounge September 1

What are the cleaning protocols for classrooms by instructors and students?

Instructors and students are responsible for cleaning their immediate area (desk, seat, lectern, lab equipment, etc.) when they arrive in a classroom or lab, using the provided cleaning and disinfection supplies.

In each classroom there are big tubs of pre-wetted wipes.  Please use them to wipe the entire surface to be cleaned and allow it to air-dry. In scheduled classrooms, FP&M staff will wipe down and disinfect desks, podiums, and lecterns, and remove trash, on a daily basis.

Posted September 9

How should I access the Humanities Building? What about elevators?

Music students, faculty, and staff should enter the Humanities Building via the music entrance on the west side (Park Street) and exit via the southwest stair. This pattern maintains a one-way flow of traffic as much as possible. The elevator will be indicated for use by people with accessibility needs and limited to single occupancy as much as possible. This pattern will also reduce cross traffic with people coming for the Art Department and non-music classes in 2340 (Mills Hall). For the first two weeks of the semester, signage will be placed to direct traffic, guiding students and instructors to Mills Hall directly from the entryway so as to limit the area such individuals must travel.

Posted September 1

What if I need access to Music Hall or Hamel Music Center?

Music Hall will be open for classes. Hamel Music Center has electronic locks. All faculty, staff, and students who need access will be added to the Access Control system for card access only.

Posted September 1

How will the safe movement of students in the Mosse Humanities Building be enforced?

Signs will be posted throughout the Mosse Humanities Building that clearly mark the safe flow of traffic and remind occupants of proper social distancing guidelines. This will include restroom occupancy guidelines. It will be up to all of us to remind one another of the best safety protocols.

Posted August 10

Will cleaning and sanitizing supplies be available for use?

Cleaning and sanitizing supplies will be located at several points throughout the Humanities Building for cleaning beyond what the Physical Plant provides for classrooms.

Posted September 1

Will masks or other PPE be provided by the School of Music?

The School of Music will have hand sanitizer and sanitizing cleaner publicly available.  Masks will be provided by the school on an emergency basis.

Students are expected to bring their own masks. Campus is also providing safety kits for students this fall, including two reusable cloth face coverings. Everyone on campus will be required to wear face coverings in all indoor public spaces, including classrooms, and outside when physical distancing is not possible. Reasonable accommodations may be made for those unable to do this for medical reasons.

Posted August 10

Will I have access to the music library on campus?

Updated September 11 in response campus moving to remote instruction until September 25:

All in-person study spaces, including those at University Libraries will be closed. University Libraries will revert to operations similar to this past summer, supporting the research mission of the university.

Effective September 10, the following changes will take place:

  • These Library by Appointment Services will be halted:

    • Study by appointment

    • Computer lab by appointment

    • Printing and scanning services appointments

    • In-person Collections Access for undergraduate students

The following Libraries will provide in-person collections access by appointment to faculty, staff, and graduate students beginning September 14 (Faculty must fill out the OVCRGE form.)

  • AMP – 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM (M), 9:00 AM – Noon (Thu)

  • Art – 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM (M-F)

  • Business Bloomberg Terminal – 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM (M-F)

  • Geology – 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM (M), 9:00 AM – Noon (Thu)

  • Memorial – 9:00 AM – Noon, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

  • Mills – 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM (M-F)

  • Social Work – 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM (M-F)

  • Special Collections – 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM (M-F)

  • Steenbock – 9:00 AM – Noon, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

  • UW Archives – 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM (M-F)

  • Wisconsin Historical Society Library and Archives – no changes to current hours at this time

Weekends Operations

  • September 12 & 13 – All CLOSED

  • September 19 & 20

    • Memorial 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

    • College – Sat-Sun for walkup reserves only

You will now see the following language on the page where you may schedule an appointment to come into Mills if you have research needs that can’t be met by our Pickup by Appointment service, which is still available to all faculty, staff, and students:
NOTE from OVCRGE: Faculty and PIs must complete or update the OVCRGE Research Reboot request form for themselves and on behalf of individuals for whom they have responsibility, whether as part of research teams (e.g. a lab group) or as independent researchers (e.g. a graduate advisee).
Graduate students: Before scheduling an appointment for on-site library access, your faculty advisor must first request permission for you to return to on-campus research and complete or update the Phase 2 Research Reboot request form. (See the procedure described in the Phase 2 Research Reboot request form FAQs.) After your advisor has completed or updated the request form, you can then schedule an appointment directly through the Library by Appointment procedure. Once you have received an appointment, this indicates that the Libraries have approved your library research request. Please inform your faculty advisor to return to the request form and change the status of the Research Reboot Proposal (question 6) to “approved.”
Please visit library.wisc.edu/covid19 for additional information.

Original August 10 post (outdated until at least September 25)

Yes. Onsite access to Mills Music Library for research is by appointment only. There will be a limited number of patrons to reduce congestion and facilitate physical distancing. You may also request library items, put them on hold, and schedule an appointment to pick them up. 

Posted August 10
Updated August 24 with latest information

Recitals and practice

Will I be able to give a recital this fall? If so, can it be streamed?

Yes. All required student recitals will be streamed from the Hamel Music Center on the School of Music Youtube channel. We will contact you to discuss specific requests and requirements prior to the live stream. Audience members, however, will likely be very limited, if any are allowed at all. Live stream content will only be available to view during the actual recital. 

We are also offering a paid option for non-required recital live streams. More details will be available as the fall semester begins. 

Posted August 10

Are there any performances planned for Fall 2020?

No Mead Witter School of Music public performances are planned for Fall 2020, but there are plans for live streaming of required student recitals and faculty performances from Hamel Music Center’s two concert halls, so long as all these protocols are in place and there is no audience except for the student’s instructors and committee. Performers and all auditors will be masked and appropriately distanced.

Posted September 1

Will I have access to the practice rooms and pianos on campus? Will practice rooms be cleaned after each student? Will there be breaks scheduled after each practice room is used to allow for adequate airflow?

Yes, but things will run differently.

The keydesk will be open for key checkout. Students will be assigned a room for the semester, and they must negotiate a schedule for the room between themselves. Based on the practice room schedule from last year, we expect three to four people per room. 

Students must clean the room EVERY time they use it, making sure to wipe the stand, bench, piano keyboard (if open) and music rack, and door knobs. If the piano is not used, the keyboard lid must be left shut.

There must be a minimum one hour break between users in the room, and only one person is allowed in a practice room at a time. PPE must be used as much as feasible. If playing is possible with a mask or adapted mask, the mask must be used. Singers must remain masked.

Students in auditioned ensembles will have access to practice rooms.

Cleaning supplies will be available at the keydesk and in the practice room area.

Spit from brass instruments, while not aerosol, can be safely handled by depositing or emptying it on an absorbent surface. Indoors, there are consumer products readily available for this which we will provide along with other cleaning supplies.  Outdoors, provided the spit is deposited directly onto the ground and absorbed, there is no concern.

Posted August 10
Updated August 13 with details on students in auditioned ensembles.
Updated September 1 details on cleaning supplies availability at the keydesk, and details on spit from brass instruments. 

What are the practice room hours?

Practice room hours are 8 am-11 pm Monday-Saturday, and 9:30 am-11 pm Sunday. Humanities will be locked at 10 pm every night. You can continue practicing until 11 pm, but you must enter the building before it’s locked at 10 pm.

Added September 4

Can I use the practice rooms if I’m a resident of the quarantined Sellery and Witte Halls?

We’ve confirmed with University Housing that the practice rooms in quarantined Sellery and Witte Halls are open 9am-10pm M-F and 12-10pm Sat/Sun and that cleaning protocols are in place for their safe use by our students.

Posted September 10

If the last nine days of the semester are remote, how will juries and recitals happen?

We’re encouraging students to carry out recitals earlier and to consider our live streaming potential. We’re exploring live streaming and faculty will have more input to share, as well. A definitive answer about juries will not be possible until November.

Posted August 10

Will I have to pay practice room fees?

Updated September 15

Yes. All fees will be paid through the School of Music Facilities App.  Currently, practice rooms will remain open even if we move to remote instruction. In keeping with the current guidelines set by the university, students will receive a 100% discount if they leave before September 11, and a 50% refund if they leave before September 25.  After that date, there will be no refunds unless UW-Madison closes campus and practice rooms are no longer accessible. This also includes locker rental.

Note that the fees will be structured a bit differently this year. Due to the changes and uncertainty, we are not offering the option for a full year, only a semester at a time. Also, the package is no longer available. 

This fee schedule does not apply to instrumental rentals.


Posted August 10

Yes. All fees will be paid through the School of Music Facilities App. If campus shuts down practice room activity by September 25, 2020, we will issue a 75% refund. If campus shuts down practice room activity between September 25, 2020 and October 30, 2020, we will issue a 50% refund. There will be no refunds issued after October 30, 2020. 

Note that the fees will be structured a bit differently this year. Due to the changes and uncertainty, we are not offering the option for a full year, only a semester at a time. Also, the package is no longer available. 

This fee schedule does not apply to instrumental rentals.

How does the instrument rental process work?

  1. Fill out the instrument rental request survey: https://uwmadison.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0N6VPYnAfBbhv4V

Reminder: You MUST be enrolled in a course to be eligible for instrument rental. If you submit this form before you are enrolled, your request will be denied. 

  1. Monitor your email for a digital contract sent via DocuSign.
  2. Your fee owed for the rental will be included on your contract. Pay your fee using the Music Facilities App at https://apps.music.wisc.edu/facilities/. Print your confirmation to a PDF file or take a screenshot of your confirmation.
  3. Complete, sign, and initial your contract. You will be required to attach your proof of payment to the contract.
  4. Upon receipt of contract including payment confirmation, you will be contacted via e-mail to arrange a pick-up of your instrument.

Posted August 10

What about student practice in the dorms?

September 9: Updated with quarantined dorm information

We’ve confirmed with University Housing that the practice rooms in quarantined Sellery and Witte Halls are open 9am-10pm M-F and 12-10pm Sat/Sun and that cleaning protocols are in place for their safe use by our students.


Housing is planning to have music practice rooms in each hall/area available to students this fall. Housing is making the decision to close down some shared spaces (such as the computer labs) in order to mitigate the risk of community spread. However, the music rooms are overwhelmingly used by just one student at a time and Housing felt they could safely continue with resident access. Housing will require that music practice rooms are used by only one occupant at a time this fall. They will also ask students to use wipes and hand sanitizer provided in these rooms to help clean the area before and after use.  

There will continue to be noise restrictions up on the floors and Housing typically discourages students practicing an instrument in their room.

Posted August 10

Do non-Music majors in auditioned ensembles and students enrolled in credit-bearing Music classes have access to practice rooms?

Yes, non-Music major students in auditioned ensembles and students who are enrolled in credit-bearing Music classes do have access to the practice rooms for an additional fee.

Posted September 11

Ensembles

Will Wind Ensemble, Concert and University Bands, Orchestra, and all choirs rehearse or perform together?

The conductors of the Wind Ensemble, Concert and University Bands, Orchestra, and all choirs have no plans for these large groups to rehearse or perform together.

Posted September 1

How will large instrumental ensembles work?

The ensembles intend to abide by the University’s Smart Restart rules and regulations for the safety of everyone involved. As such, instruction at the beginning semester will start online. This approach applies to the three University Bands, All University Strings, Concert Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Wind Ensemble. The faculty and administration will continue to assess the situation on COVID19 in October to determine the possibility of shifting the situation to more in-person collaboration.

Conducting faculty have been attending online meetings of national professional organizations and with faculty at peer institutions regularly. Studies are being conducted by scientists that examine the impact of exerted aerosols as it pertains to the playing of various instruments.  

For the fall, auditions for Concert Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Wind Ensemble will be submitted online. The auditions will be shared with faculty anonymously, as they are during the usual blind audition process. Please contact the performing organization coordinators at performingorgs@music.wisc.edu if you have questions about uploading your submission. The ensembles are planning two in–person sessions and online projects that focus on skill development, learning repertoire, and professional development. Projects can include professional-level excerpts (from orchestras and service bands), guest lectures covering various topics (entrepreneurship, studio development, score study, etc.) collaboration and mentorship. The Conducting Area has been preparing for the possibility of online instruction during the fall 2020 semester since April. The projects are focused on the continued musical development of our students. As always, the conducting faculty will be available to the students for additional input, consultation, and support. We are confident that the ensemble curriculum will prove to be fruitful and meaningful to our students.

Posted August 10

How will jazz ensembles work?

During the COVID-19 crisis, the UW Jazz Ensembles will move online as recording ensembles. Under the production guidance of the ensemble directors, students will record songs / projects that are made up of layered instrument tracks recorded individually by the students. Students will sign up for a single section of MUS 262 (undergraduate students) or MUS 562 (graduate students), which will be team-taught by four ensemble directors, Johannes Wallmann, Les Thimmig, Peter Dominguez, and Nick Moran. Personnel will vary for each project, and performers will be assigned to projects based on instrumentation needed, experience, and personnel interests. Over the course of the semester, each student will participate in multiple projects, covering a range of different jazz styles.

The jazz ensemble class will meet weekly online on Wednesdays, 6-8 pm, to discuss logistics and technology, assign personnel to new projects, and listen to completed recordings and works-in-progress. Individual recording projects will work largely asynchronously under the direction of a project producer who may also schedule other online check-ins or discussion.

No prior recording experience is necessary, and students new to multitrack recording will be guided through the process. Minimum hardware requirements will be any setup that allows the student to play back an audio file through headphones, while recording themselves playing along with the audio file. A relatively inexpensive USB-microphone is optional but can enhance students’ experience; however, we recommend that students do not make any such purchases until they have met with their studio instructors (in the case of music majors) or have received notice of a successful audition (in the case of non-majors). The recording software for the jazz recording ensembles is Audacity, which is a freeware program available for Mac, Windows, and Unix.

Pending several factors, including the successful suppression of viral spread on campus and exemptions to the state, county, and university mask requirements for wind players, optional-attendance in-person rehearsals and a live or live-streamed performance of some of the recording projects may be scheduled for November.

Posted August 10

How will chamber music work?

Professor Parry Karp will try teaching “in person”  if scheduling is possible in the halls or large rehearsal room at Hamel Music Center to do so. Everyone without exception will have to wear masks 100% of the time. If the university goes back to only online instruction, Professor Karp will teach the kind of online course he taught at the end of the spring semester.

Faculty in the Brass Area will be teaching a chamber music course titled The Brass Quintet. The course will be taught entirely remotely. Students will be placed into ensembles that approximate brass quintet orchestration. Each group will contain either freshmen/sophomores, juniors/seniors, or graduate students. Students will study 10 important pieces in the brass quintet repertoire, studying scores, analyzing different recordings, and learning passages to play on their instruments. In addition to playing and listening assignments, each coaching session will include discussion about relevant topics, including but not limited to preparation and score study, diversity in classical music, programming , arranging and composing, stage presence and protocol, recording and technology, and other topics.

Posted August 10
Updated with Brass Area details August 12

How will choral ensembles work?

We are excited to announce that our new Director of Choral Music, Dr. Mariana Farah, will begin with us in the 2021-2022 season, but an interim director has not been hired. (Courtesy of the pandemic!)

Dr. Bruce Gladstone is stepping in at this chaotic time as Acting Director of Choral Music.  Due to the online nature of instruction, Dr. Gladstone and Dr. Farah have decided to scale back the number of choirs offered at UW for the 2020-2021 school year.

This fall, the following ensembles will be offered in a virtual format:

Chorale – MWF 12-1pm (Director: Bruce Gladstone)
Concert Choir – M 3:30-5pm, TR 2:30-4pm (Director: Bruce Gladstone)
Madrigal Singers – TR 6:30-8:30pm (Director: Bruce Gladstone)
Women’s Chorus – MWF 1:20-2:10pm (Director: Kristie Halverson)

Choral Union and University Chorus will not be held this semester. Masters Singers has been permanently discontinued.

All continuing students that were enrolled in a choral ensemble for Spring 2020 should enroll in the same ensemble for Fall 2020.

New  students that are NOT voice majors can choose to enroll in either Chorale or Women’s Choir.

Both continuing and non-voice students should email Bruce or Kristie directly to request a permission number to enroll. Be sure to include which specific ensemble you need to enroll in.

Bruce Gladstone bruce.gladstone@wisc.edu (Chorale/Concert Choir/Madrigal Singers)
Kristie Halverson khalverson3@wisc.edu (Women’s Choir)

New voice majors will need to complete an audition prior to enrollment.

Step 1: Complete and submit the Choral Audition Form.
Step 2: Sign up for an Audition Time Slot – Auditions will take place September 2nd and 3rd
Step 3: Complete your audition.
Step 4: Enroll in your assigned ensemble.

Some Additional FAQs

Will there be auditions for choir? – Yes, though just for current music majors. Former members should sign up for the choir they were in previously. New undergrads should register for either Women’s Chorus or Chorale. If this is not possible, they should contact Dr. Gladstone at bgladstone@wisc.edu.

What will happen in choir? – This will likely be an exploration of choral music, music theory and history, sightsinging, the choral singer’s score preparation, and a robust discussion connecting our ears, our eyes, our mouths, our brains, and our hearts. While we always want to do all of this every semester, some of these foundational topics fall by the wayside when learning the notes and making musical choices takes more time during the semester due to absences and a more varied range of skill levels present. It is our hope to use this semester to focus on those areas that get sidelined other semesters.

Why bother? Why not wait until this nightmare is over? – We certainly could, but practically, we don’t want to lose you. We think choral music is important because beauty is important. We think singing in an ensemble is important because it teaches vital skills. Musical skills to be sure. Finding your own voice; building your vocal range – with regard to pitch, volume, tonal color, flexibility, and emotional content; improving your musicianship- sightsinging, intonation, phrasing, vowel production; and then making appropriate and creative choices with the tools at one’s disposal. But there are other skills just as vital. Among these are: learning to cooperate and work with others; working toward a common goal- even if that goal isn’t immediately apparent to the individual; learning that one still needs to bring one’s best, even when one is not the most important part; developing leadership qualities within a group and determining when best to lead and when to follow; and learning the importance of individual responsibility and integrity. Ironically, these qualities have been the ones seen as most needed during this pandemic and lamented as the most lacking, especially in this country.

Will we have a concert? – No concerts are planned for this semester.  Yes, it’s unfortunate, but it’s safe.

Will we meet at all in person? – It appears to us at the present time that we will have limited time in person, and these times would be communicated well in advance to you.  The University has appropriated the choral rehearsal room, as well as all other large indoor spaces, for other classes which must meet in person.  In order to provide the spacing required to meet indoors, these classes have spread out around campus, including at Mosse Humanities. We still have access to the new concert hall which will be the likely site for any in person meetings.

Will I need special equipment to participate? – You will not.  Some singers are purchasing fancier microphones.  This will not be required, as this is not equitable or reasonable.

Will we sing? – Yes, possibly.  It won’t be in a “virtual choir” format though, as we are not sound technicians, and that is not what choral music is about.  We just have to be creative with what we will permit to reward us musically and those possibilities are still being researched.

We wish that SO many things about choir could be different at the present time.  Please, feel free to send us emails with more questions, and if we cannot answer them directly, we will seek them out.

We do hope that we will get to see you in choir in the coming year.

Posted August 20
Updated August 24 with additional FAQs

How will large instrumental ensemble auditions work?

Video submissions are replacing live auditions for Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, and Symphony Orchestra for Fall 2020. Students wishing to audition may submit pre-recorded videos via the online audition forms at music.wisc.edu/fall-2020-large-ensemble-placement-auditions. Students will be notified of their placements the first week of classes.

The auditions will be shared with faculty anonymously, as they are during the usual blind audition process. Please contact the performing organization coordinators at performingorgs@music.wisc.edu if you have questions about uploading your submission. More information on auditions for large performing ensembles is available at https://www.music.wisc.edu/current-students/auditions.

Posted August 10

How will jazz ensemble auditions work?

Jazz studies majors do not need to audition and will receive a permission code to enroll directly. 

Other music majors and non-majors are welcome to audition for the jazz ensembles. For full consideration, interested students should send a link to a private YouTube audition video to wallmann@wisc.edu no later than 8 pm on Tuesday, September 1. The audition video should show the student playing the jazz standard “East of the Sun” using the sheet music and play-along tracks posted at https://uwmadison.box.com/v/JazzAudition

Wind instruments: 1 chorus melody, 2 choruses improvised solo

Voice: 1 chorus melody. Optional: 1 chorus improvised scat solo

Guitar, piano, vibraphone: 1 chorus melody, 1 chorus improvised solo, 1 chorus comping

Bass: 1 chorus with a 2-feel, 1 chorus walking, 1 chorus improvised solo

Drums: play the entire chart (please note that the drum chart and play-along are for a different piece)

Posted August 10

What is the status of the Marching Band?

Individuals who participate in the Mead Witter School of Music Marching Band are enrolled in Music 42 (Varsity Band), which has a curriculum focused on improving individual playing skills, establishing and developing sight-reading skills, developing music memorization skills, developing and maintaining the embouchure, improving the individual’s grasp of essential elements of music, and refining the links between kinesthetic movement and music. Performing for athletic events as well as the general public is only a part of the course’s focus.

Given this, although athletic events are canceled for fall 2020, the Marching Band will continue to study music, rehearse, and prepare for the future. This is no different than what athletic teams will do; the Marching Band, just like the athletic teams it supports, will continue to train and its members will continue to hone their skills.

Posted August 11

Will the Marching Band perform at football games this season?

We learned this week that the Big Ten Conference has determined that bands will not participate in this year’s football season. The conference has reserved the right to revisit this decision later, but this is where things stand currently.

While performing for football games is extremely important, this band program is more than that. We acknowledge the difficulties that have been placed upon us a result of COVID-19; however, we will operate under the current guidelines to the best of our ability.

As of September 23, the Marching Band has been cleared to return to in-person instruction with students. We are emphasizing the importance of continuing to follow the university’s COVID–19 protocols (physical distancing, masks, etc.).

We remain committed to finding opportunities to contribute to our campus community and beyond. We do not have information yet about performances during winter sports season or the spring semester. We will continue to provide updates as we learn more.

Posted September 24

How will the Marching Band rehearse?

UPDATED SEPTEMBER 24

The Marching Band has been cleared to return to in-person instruction following all COVID-19 protocols (physical distancing, masks, etc.)


Updated September 8 (outdated as of Sept. 24)

On September 7, Chancellor Blank sent out a message regarding a two-week emphasis on health and safety protocols:

Effectively immediately, in-person activities by the UW Marching Band are suspended as directed by the administration of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This action is necessary as part of the overall campus response to the rapid growth of COVID-19 cases in our student population, as communicated by the Chancellor to all students. In-person rehearsals and instruction will not resume until we have been granted permission to do so. We, also, respectfully request that you not gather in outside groups to rehearse on University facilities.

We will contact members of the Marching Band in the coming days regarding how we will shift our focus to online instruction for everyone until we receive clearance to return to in-person cohort groups. 


Posted August 11 (outdated as of September 8)

The Marching Band will rehearse outdoors for the duration of the fall semester. Rehearsal numbers will comply with mandates for mass gatherings as defined by Public Health Madison & Dane County. Currently, this means that the Marching Band will be split into several different and distinct groups of 25, limited to the same individuals to reduce unique interactions. Strict physical distancing protocols will be followed as well as all other public health protocols established by campus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each student that earns a spot in the band will be assigned an instrument that must be cleaned and sanitized regularly; instrument sharing will not be permitted. Band members will be expected to fully comply with the Badger Pledge. Failure to adhere to the Badger Pledge may result in disciplinary action including possible dismissal from the Marching Band.

Will the Marching Band be welcoming new members?

Yes!  The Marching Band is encouraging all interested students to audition. The auditions consist of two elements: a music audition and a marching audition. Wind instruments will complete their music audition through online video submission, while percussion will complete their music auditions in-person. The marching audition for both wind instruments and percussion will be in-person. All in-person elements of the audition process will comply with Public Health Madison & Dane County mandates and will follow the physical distancing and other public health protocols put in place for rehearsals.

Posted August 11