by Jordan Cochran

Reinhardt University’s School of Performing Arts received a grant from the Center for Innovative Teaching and Engaged Learning (CITEL) to purchase equipment necessary for online lessons and video recordings. The equipment purchased through this grant proved a vital resource during a year of online courses and adapted experiences - including masterclasses.

The School of Performing Arts (SOPA) originally approached CITEL with the need for a grant in order to purchase web cameras, microphones and headphones for online lessons and video recordings for the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition submissions. The technology became important tools used throughout the pandemic.

“We were able to use this equipment for the masterclasses, allowing the guest teachers to see and hear the singers clearly and work almost as if they were in the room together,” said Dr. Anne Schantz, assistant professor of music. “The microphones were especially important; microphones built into computers and phones are designed and calibrated for speech but cannot process the amount of acoustical information involved in singing. The grant allowed us to purchase microphones capable of this kind of processing.”

Reinhardt’s SOPA faculty often use their network to bring in artists with much success and experience in their field to connect with Reinhardt students. Students often are given the chance to perform for the artist to receive feedback on their skills. Drs. Anne and Cory Schantz (associate professor of music - voice) hosted virtual masterclasses this spring for their students to learn and grow and were able to utilize the CITEL-funded technology.

Dr. Anne Schantz finds masterclasses to benefit students both as participants and observers.

“In addition to building and expanding a network of professional contacts - including potential graduate degree and young artist program possibilities - working with a guest teacher gives students an opportunity to learn to absorb and synthesize new information quickly. Often the guest teacher reinforces concepts and techniques the student has received from their own regular teacher; sometimes, new terminology or imagery is helpful to address familiar issues.”

Todd Thomas – who has sung in every major opera house in the United States and has notable European success – virtually joined Reinhardt students in March to listen and provide advice.

“Todd’s masterclass was unique in that we were able to utilize live accompaniment,” said Dr. Cory Schantz. “We alternated between the band room and Flint Hall, allowing time for air circulation and filtration. The pianists were masked and were situated at a greater distance than is customary. I was able to position the equipment in such a way that the singer was essentially able to sing directly to Mr. Thomas. It was almost normal for a few hours.”

In April, Dr. Linda Di Fiore conducted a virtual masterclass with Reinhardt. Di Fiore currently serves on the voice faculty at De Paul University in Chicago and has taught at a variety of colleges.

“Our students were excited to learn from Dr. Di Fiore and Mr. Thomas, and they all approached this opportunity with open and eager minds,” said Dr. Anne Schantz.

CITEL continues to provide in ways that enables Reinhardt students to participate in experiences that supplement their coursework, including on the stage.