by Heidie Raine, Student Public Relations Writer
An undergraduate’s experience in a Cedarville University music program can certainly be intense. But in tents?
In light of COVID-19 guidelines, Cedarville’s department of music and worship is unable to rehearse in traditional indoor spaces. To accommodate social distancing for musical groups while still allowing them to practice together, department chair and associate professor of vocal music Beth Porter discovered a unique alternative: high-peak, open-sided outdoor event tents.
“Everything I read said outside is the best place to rehearse because of the great ventilation the outdoors provides,” Porter noted. “We don’t have parking garages or large areas with covered space, so tents seemed like the next best thing.”
Porter’s decision to hold rehearsals in outdoor tents came with careful consideration of virus-related safety and educational quality.
"A big concern for musicians is the aerosols and droplets that the media continues to talk about,” Porter said. “But our other options were to not have ensembles, have only incredibly small ensembles or do virtual ensembles, which are not the preferred methods for any musical group, especially in an educational setting.”
Choirs and ensembles have adapted to their new space in a safe manner, practicing 6-foot social distancing and wearing facial coverings throughout rehearsals.
Though a shift from typical rehearsal conditions, Porter believes this adaptation has been beneficial for her students.
“None of our students have chosen to do online or remote study because music instruction is so much better in person,” Porter shared. “Being outside certainly requires a listening transition because we don’t have the perfect acoustical space, but we adjust. At least we get to rehearse together.”
Amidst the changes to her department, Porter has maintained her passion for music education.
“God calls musicians to play skillfully, and in the Book of Psalms he tells us to sing new songs,” Porter noted. “Music is one of his creations — a powerful tool. Just like in the Old Testament, in 2020 God continues to call musicians to himself to tell his story in music. It's important for us to train the musicians that God has called to be his musicians in this century, regardless of the obstacles that come with it.”
As the music and worship department settles into its new space, Porter is growing accustomed to the “daily concerts” she hears outside of her office window each afternoon.
Though prepared to wear her coat and gloves for rehearsals later this year, Porter did express one weather-related concern. “I’m just praying for no windstorms,” she shared, with a chuckle.
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,550 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the Bachelor of Arts in Worship program, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.