Music Department finds right online note for recitals
By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
To Grand Canyon University Music Director Mark Fearey, music programs always have worked best in person. But when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down face-to-face gatherings and forced GCU to transition ground classes to an online environment, Fearey had to get creative to collaborate with his students.
Specifically, the issue was with recitals. Claude Pensis, Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Productions, had the solution — the GCU Recording Studio — and Fearey and Recording Studio Manager Eric Johnson took it from there.
“What they have to do is use the recording, sing along with the tracks, then videotape themselves singing and turn that in,” Fearey said. “I’ve been recording all of their music for their whole recital. That way we can send them a really nice, quality recording.”
Fearey still has used his phone for audio for most of the other assignments he’s working on with students, but he wanted to give the best quality possible to recital students, especially music seniors.
“It’s like their final grade for their entire four years of studying,” he said. “The ultimate is doing the recital together in a nice place and having all your friends and family there, but I think we just try to do what we can to help them get as good of recording as possible.”
The ground-to-online transition has been seamless for most students, given GCU’s expertise in online learning. But for courses like the ones Fearey teaches, it’s not as ideal. The timing, cadenza (performed by soloists) and melody need to be considered.
“It’s kind of tricky because so much of classical music, there’s a lot of give and take between the performers and then the music goes from slower to faster,” Fearey said. “We’re trying to get it as close as we can to performance level. We’re all making it work — you just have to maintain a good attitude.
“It’s something we all have to get through, and this is the best way that we can interact with the students.”
Fearey has gotten positive feedback from students.
“I think they were pretty happy with it,” he said. “It’s pretty close with what we could get.”
It’s just another example of the collaborations that are taking place between a number of different departments on campus to help continue to provide balance in such turbulent times. Fearey has been impressed by the students’ ability to adapt.
“They’re eager and willing to try stuff and see what we can get out of it,” he said. “They’re great people. They’re not hesitant to jump in and try make it work and do the best that they can.”
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected]