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Autumn Semester during COVID-19 — What you need to know

We will continue to add FAQs to this page as accurate and helpful answers become available. Check back often and look for the update (M/DD/YY).

IMPORTANT — We encourage you to seek answers from trustworthy sources. Refer to the valuable resources at the bottom of the page.

Have a question? Email

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will the School of Music be fully operational this fall?
A: Yes! We will provide instruction for all our students. We will be working hard to make sure that everyone in the school has meaningful musical and educational experiences throughout the semester. Because we need to follow health guidelines to keep our community safe, the format of some of our courses will be different for Autumn semester. But we are doing all that we can to make sure that students can continue progress toward their degrees.
    We expect that health guidelines from the state and the university will continue to change. Ohio State’s guidelines are online and updated regularly. We are prepared to adapt to the changing situation as we continue to prioritize the musical and academic progress of our students as well as the health of our entire community — students, instructors and staff.

Q: What about the Music & Dance Library, located in the 18th Ave. Library Building?
A: We expect that the Music & Dance Library will begin to reopen with very limited staffing and hours on August 10. There will be no public access during this first phase, but library materials may be requested in the normal way, through the library catalog.
    The 18th Avenue Library building will be open to the public starting the first day of classes (August 25), with greatly reduced seating. The current plan is to have the 18th Avenue Library open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, as usual. The Music & Dance service desk will be reducing its hours of service; we don’t have details yet. The first floor circulation desk will be open 24 hours a day, and Music & Dance Library books and scores may be checked out at the first floor desk.
    For other questions, School of Music students, faculty and staff may contact Music & Dance Head Librarian, Alan Green.

Safety  |  PPE

Q: How will the School be kept clean?
: Ohio State’s safety plan includes frequent cleaning of all the spaces in which we teach and learn. Enjoy this video from Facilities Operations and Development (FOD).

Q: Are masks required? (8/17/20)
A: Yes. Masks are required both in the buildings and also outside, even when distancing is possible. In addition to Ohio State's requirement for face masks, they are now required throughout Franklin County by order of the state. The city of Columbus and several Franklin County suburbs also have mask policies.
    Return-to-campus kits will be provided to students, faculty and staff in August. Each kit will include one disposable mask, two reusable masks, a thermometer, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.

Q: What is the university doing to keep the campus safe?
A: The new Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website provides key details about the steps the university is taking to protect our students, faculty and staff. Stopping the spread of COVID-19 is a community responsibility, and we must all work together as Buckeyes to promote a safe and healthy campus community.

Q: Our hallways are so packed and there is no place to go between classes. How can we distance?
A: By placing some classes online and changing how the instrument room will be used, and having large ensembles meet as chamber groups in many different spaces, we have reduced the likelihood of crowding in the hallways. We will continue to communicate with students about how to use our buildings safely.

Q: Various guidelines mention 6-foot and 10-foot distances, depending on the activity. How can we visualize those distances?
A: A bed is approximately 6.5 feet long. A full-sized Christmas tree is between 6–9 feet.

Courses  |  Lessons  |  Studios

Q: Will my courses be taught online?
A: Most of our academic courses (Music Theory, Musicology, many General Education classes, etc.) will be taught online due to space constraints and required limitations on room capacities. Most courses in Music Education will be offered in hybrid form, with some in-person and some distance-learning experiences.
    Plans for studio classes and individual lessons will be determined for each studio based on safety guidelines for faculty and students. Students who need to learn at a distance will be accommodated.

Q: How will I know how each of my courses will be taught?
A: Buckeyelink will show changes to modes of instruction in real time as the registrar’s office works through submitted course plans. Students will be sent a message informing them about the process, and the registrar’s office will notify students when the process is complete.

Q: What is a hybrid class? What is distance enhanced?
A: A class labeled “hybrid” meets in person some of the time, and at a distance some of the time. For example, a class of 50 students might be divided in half. Half attend in person on Monday and online Wednesday. The other half might do the reverse. This allows us to maintain appropriate physical distance to discourage the transmission of COVID-19 while offering students opportunities for interaction with teachers and peers. A hybrid course is expected to have between 25–75% of instruction in a face-to-face setting.
    A “distance enhanced” course is like a hybrid course, but it leans toward more online experiences. A distance enhanced course is expected to have between 75–99% of instruction in a distance learning (online) environment.

Q: I don’t want to take an online course. I prefer to have a teacher.
A: Our faculty and Graduate Teaching Associates have worked hard this summer to make sure we are ready to provide students with meaningful interaction and learning experiences in any format. Online courses typically include a significant amount of interaction with faculty and with other students. Sometimes this interaction takes place through teleconferences like Zoom; sometimes in writing or through exchange of videos. We know that students need feedback in order to learn. All students will receive meaningful feedback from their instructors.

Q: I see conflicting information about courses in BuckeyeLink and in social media.
A: In July, the university is updating BuckeyeLink with the best information we have about how each course will be taught. If the status of a course changes, it is because a space or health constraint has emerged. As we learn more about the science of COVID-19, the university’s guidelines change. The School of Music will keep adapting to the situation. We will continue to prioritize the health and the musical and academic progress of all members of our community.

Q: What accommodations will be made to attendance policies?
A: The College of Arts and Sciences has asked that faculty not include attendance as part of course grades. Faculty are still required to take attendance, but attendance will not be part of course grades per this policy.

Finances  |   Living Arrangements

Q: Some scholarships require us to be full-time. What if some courses are canceled? Will there be any flexibility?
A: As of mid-July, we are in the process of finalizing the course offerings for the Autumn semester. After mid-August, we do not anticipate that courses will be canceled. Depending on state, city and university health guidelines, the mode in which we teach courses may change; we will update the community if that happens.

Q: Will there be reduced tuition for online classes?
A: For undergraduate students who are not Ohio residents and whose entire courseload is online, the non-resident surcharge has been reduced. See "2021 Academic Year" information for your cohort on the Registrar's web page.
    For graduate students whose entire courseload is online, all on-site fees are waived and the non-resident tuition is reduced to $200. See Graduate Student Tuition and Fees.

Q: Can students live off-campus, if all their classes are online?
A: Given the impacts of COVID-19, the university temporarily expanded the housing exemption criteria for returning second-year students for the 2020–2021 academic year. Second-year students can request an exemption to not reside on campus by emailing
    Questions about housing policy are addressed on the university housing website and on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.

Health Concerns  |  Flexibility

IMPORTANT We ask that all School of Music community members take care to not discuss or speculate about individual's health in public settings or share them with those who do not need to know. Health data are private information!

The School of Music will have a confidential reporting process for all students, faculty and staff. We will describe this process before the start of Autumn semester. The university asks that School of Music community members report cases of COVID-19 to the School. This will help the university keep everyone safe by alerting those who have been in contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19. We will take care to ensure that all health information and other personal information will remain confidential.

Q: What happens if a student contracts COVID-19?
A: Instructors understand that flexibility is essential during this time. We will work with you to help you complete your coursework in a way that is manageable.

Q: What happens if a professor contracts COVID-19?
A: All instructors have been asked to name a backup person who can assist in case the faculty member becomes ill.

Q: What considerations are being made for students with disabilities that will complicate or prevent the ability to wear a mask or socially distance with ease?
A: As soon as possible, students with disabilities should be in touch with the Office of Student Life / Disability Services to arrange accommodations.
    If you are concerned that particular logistical concerts within the School of Music present a problem for you, please contact Danielle Fosler-Lussier or David Hedgecoth as soon as possible. With advance notice, we can ensure that appropriate accommodations are in place for you when the semester begins.

Q: Can there be accommodations for students unable to attend classes in person due to high-risk status or high-risk status of an immediate family member?
A: Our faculty understand that students will need flexibility. We expect that faculty will make reasonable accommodations to ensure that all students can participate in our offerings and make progress in their degree programs. We ask that students communicate with their instructors to make arrangements.


Q: How will ensembles function?
A: Large instrumental ensembles will be divided into chamber groups. Our intent is that as long as health guidelines allow it, these groups will meet and rehearse in a physically-distanced, in-person setting. Whether by preference or because of health concerns, students who would like to participate in chamber ensembles that meet online may do so.
    Because singing in groups has been proven to pose a greater health risk, choirs will meet in a distance education format (online). The choral area will retain each individual choir — Chorale (formerly Symphonic Choir), Women's Glee Club, Men's Glee Club and University Chorus. Each choir is in the process of designing virtual choral experiences typical of each choir's identity — with experiences that will support the musical goals of both voice majors and non-music major members.
    Visit where ensemble details have been provided, including audition information and sign-up forms.

Q: How will choirs work?
A. The choir area will maintain each individual choir — Chorale (the new name of Symphonic Choir), University Chorus and both glee clubs. Each will meet at least twice a week; under current safety guidelines, these meetings will be online at the start of the Autumn semester. There may also be large-group, combined choir experiences with guest artists. Each choir will have its own curriculum and goals and each plans to create virtual performance experiences. The glee clubs also hope to retain the social and service aspects of their experience. Updates on the choirs pages of the website are posted. And, we encourage you to recruit your friends. Notice of auditions, to be held online, are posted.

Practice Rooms  |  Instruments  |  Lockers

8/17/20 — Note that details for locker assignments, checking out instruments, signing up for practice rooms, etc. are still in process as of today. These protocols remain dependent on updates from the university which are still evolving. Students are not yet required to take steps with these matters. All students will receive instructions once final procedures are firm.

Q: What about shared instruments?
A: School of Music-owned instruments will be loaned to individual students for that individual’s sole use for the duration of a 7-week or 14-week term. Priority will be given to students in music education methods courses and instrumental majors who require the need to borrow their principal instrument. When instruments are returned at the end of the term, they will be sanitized. We will accommodate as many students with loaned instruments as possible.
    Offering our academic courses online allows us to schedule piano practice in selected classrooms, with airing out between uses and frequent cleaning. Students who need pianos will be given a schedule of practice times in a specific room and will be asked to clean the keyboard before and after use.


Keyboards for Class Piano. Class piano will be offered online. Students who are enrolled will be provided with a specific keyboard for the duration of the semester. Further instructions will be provided at the start of the semester. If you have questions, contact Associate Professor Ken Williams.

Keyboard for music majors. The piano is the primary instrument for some music majors. It is a secondary instrument and an essential tool for all music majors. Music students use the piano in a variety of ways — to understand theory concepts, especially in constructing chords and harmonic progressions; to learn individual parts in solo vocal music and choral music; to prepare scores for conducting my hearing multiple parts in various ranges and registers; to hear accompaniments and other parts in music for ensembles. Music education students use the piano to prepare lesson plans for general music.

If you have an electronic keyboard, you may wish to bring it with you when you move to campus.

If you wish to purchase an electronic keyboard here are some suggestions:

  • Costzon Portable Keyboard — available on Amazon for $150.
  • Casiotone CT-5300 — available on Amazon or Sweetwater for about the same price.
  • More expensive options, for those who will use it beyond graduation:
    • Casio CDP-S100
    • Casio Privia PX-160
    • Yamaha P-45

Q: Pianos for pianists? If a lesson is not in person, and I don’t have a piano, how will that work?
A: We will schedule practice and lesson time for students on the school’s pianos. In addition, some students may also be asked to purchase electronic keyboards for use at home. See above.

Q: Should we purchase a USB microphone?
A: Yes, we recommend that you invest in a microphone that is higher quality than your phone or iPad. This will be necessary if your studio lessons will be delivered online. Microphones, Music Stands and More

Q: Are students to provide their own music stands?
A: Yes. To reduce the sharing of equipment, all students involved in on-campus performance will need to bring a folding music stand to rehearsals. Microphones, Music Stands and More

Q: For students who live in Columbus, will practice rooms be open after Thanksgiving Break during finals week?
A: At this point, we think the answer is No. But university policies may change. We will keep you updated as autumn semester progresses.

Q: How will lockers work?
A: We are working on a solution to space banks of lockers more widely. Lockers will remain assigned for single-person use, as they have always been. See  Student Lockers.

Events  |  Performances

Q: What about concerts and recitals? Can the public attend?
A: State and university limits on group gatherings will not allow outside guests to attend concerts in person. As safety guidelines change, we will comply with them, and we’ll notify our community when it becomes possible to gather safely for musical events.
    Although it may not be possible to allow the public to attend many events, we hope to make accommodations for students to attend performances by their peers. This is an important part of a music education.

Q: What about student recitals that were cancelled in spring?
A: Students whose recital was canceled last spring semester will have first priority to schedule an autumn semester recital, followed by those with autumn required recitals.

Q. Will all School of Music performances be livestreamed?
A. We have streaming capability in Hughes Hall. Depending on the availability of technical support personnel, we will stream or record as many events as we can, while protecting the safety of ensemble members and the crew. It may not be possible to livestream every performance.
    Details about events will be posted on the School of Music event calendar as they become available.

Q: Will we have the Celebration Concert or concerts in Mershon?
A: At this time, we anticipate that we cannot gather for the Celebration Concert. We hope to present a festive online event for our community in December. We will update our community as it becomes possible to do so.

Concerns and Resources

Q: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic hardship for my family. What do I do?
A: The Together as Buckeyes fund offers financial assistance for students’ COVID-related expenses. We encourage our students to apply.

Resources and News

The most comprehensive resource — Safe and Healthy Buckeyes: Navigating COVID-19 Together



  • The Ohio State Wellness app is designed for students, but offers tips and guidance useful for all members of our community. It is available for Android and iOS devices.