Spring FAQ


Frequently Asked Questions

(policies are subject to change to reflect updates in University guidelines or as conditions demand — please check back regularly for updates)

Most Recent Update: February 22, 2021, 10:00 pm



Building Access and Regulations


Q: What will the hours for the music buildings be for the spring semester? [UPDATED Feb. 22]

A: The Spring 2020 hours (beginning January 25) are outlined below. These times will be strictly enforced. Please also note that these times are subject to change. Students must continue regular COVID testing. Even if the Wellness Support Associates (WSAs) are not present, your Safer Illinois app must read "Building Access Granted" for you to enter the building. There are absolutely NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule.

Music Building and Smith Hall

Monday thru Friday – 7:30 AM to 10:00 PM (no entry into the buildings after 9:00 PM)

Saturday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Sunday – 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM (no entry into the buildings after 9:00 PM)


Harding Band Building

Monday thru Friday – 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Saturday/Sunday – CLOSED


Q: What are regulations about masks (for both faculty and students)?

A: Everyone has to wear a mask or some other university-approved face covering when not alone in a practice room, office, or some other private space. This includes faculty when they’re teaching classes, lessons, or ensembles, and students when they are performing (see https://covid19.illinois.edu/health-and-support/face-coverings/).


Q: What do I need to do to be able to access the music buildings? [UPDATED Jan. 24]

A: All students must participate in on-campus COVID testing as required by the University. If you are not up to date on your testing, you will not be allowed into the buildings. There are no exceptions to this (even if it means you miss your class or lesson). Upon returning to campus, students must test negative for COVID twice over a 5-day period to receive permission to access university buildings. In general, please keep in mind that since it can take 24 hours to get your test results, you must plan to get tested in advance of your classes. For complete testing instructions, see https://covid19.illinois.edu/on-campus-testing-locations/.

To enter any of the music buildings, you will need to show the “Safer in Illinois” app on your phone to the building monitor who will be controlling access. The app will indicate that you are (or are not) up to date on your testing. Even if the Wellness Support Associates (WSAs) are not present, your Safer Illinois app must read "Building Access Granted" for you to enter the building. There are absolutely NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule. For more information about the app, see https://answers.uillinois.edu/illinois/page.php?id=104642. For more information about building access, see https://covid19.illinois.edu/on-campus/building-access/.

For more detailed information about the use of University facilities, please see https://covid19.illinois.edu/on-campus/working-in-university-facilities/.


Q: How will cleaning of the building and classrooms take place?

A: Classrooms will be cleaned by the Building Service Workers (BSW) overnight and, if possible, one other time during the day. We encourage students to use wipes to clean their spaces after class (wipe and hand-sanitizer stations will be placed strategically throughout the buildings). Classrooms will also be sprayed with an electrostatic sprayer each evening.

Please do not remove tape or change the seating configuration of rooms.


Health and Safety

The School of Music will be following University guidelines regarding health and safety policies. Please see the Health and Safety section of the University’s Covid-19 FAQ for any policies not discussed here.


Q: Do I have to get tested in order to use the music facilities (even if I’m taking all my classes online)?

A: Yes. Everyone must follow the University’s policy for getting tested in order to enter any of the music buildings, even if it’s just to use the practice rooms. See https://covid19.illinois.edu/health-and-support/on-campus-covid-19-testing/.


Q: How will students and faculty comply with the University’s requirement that everyone wear masks? What else is being done to make attending classes, lessons, and rehearsals safe?

A: All members of the School of Music—students, faculty, and staff—need to do their part to contribute to a safe and healthy environment within our buildings and classrooms, which includes wearing masks when with others, among other safety provisions. All U of I students are being provided with two standard cloth masks, and we have ordered specialty masks that will enable performance while conforming with mask compliance. This will be very challenging, but we are committed to ensuring that our students comply with university rules.

We have also been very careful to make sure our in-person instruction is taking place in spaces where we can have adequate social distance, good ventilation, and that can accommodate the unique challenges that aerosol producing instruments (voices, winds, and brass) create.

In addition, we are limiting the time that performance can take place in a given space, and creating scheduling gaps between classes, lessons, and rehearsals to allow rooms to clear before the next group enters.

We also have wipe and sanitizer dispensers stationed throughout our buildings and have established an active cleaning regimen.

Finally, access to our buildings will be limited to enrolled students so that we can keep the population density low.


Q: What should I do if I am uncomfortable wearing a mask?

A: The University is very strict about mask compliance. Please contact Jenny Phillips (jhorn@illinois.edu) or Rebecca Spennetta (rspen@illinois.edu) for assistance in building an online-only schedule if this will be problematic for you.


Q: What kind of mental health resources are available for students?

A: UI Student Affairs has posted a page with information about the various kinds of resources that are available to our students, whether you’re on or off campus. Please visit https://studentaffairs.illinois.edu/node/11962.

The State of Illinois also provides resources, which you can learn more about at


See also:

Campus and Champaign Urbana Community Resources

Off Campus Counseling Resources

In addition to our planning related to Covid, we are also preparing a series of seminars addressing the mental health challenges that performing-arts students, including BIPOC students, face in their day-to-day lives, including seminars that feature staff members from Sankofa African American Student Outreach.

Most important, if you’re experiencing an emergency that prevents you from participating in class or is impacting your work, please reach out to your professors and/or advisor and let us know what we can do to help!


Q: What will the attendance policy be?

A: While all School of Music students are expected to participate regularly in class activities (whether online or face-to-face) so that you continue to make good academic progress, you will not be graded on attendance. We will, however, track student attendance in the interest of student wellness and safety. It is crucial, therefore, that you keep in contact with your instructor to let them know of any difficulties you are facing (such as accessing course material, meeting deadlines, illness, or other extenuating circumstances).

It is our goal to be compassionate and caring: we will not require students to produce doctor’s notes or other proof of illness. Students who do not feel well should stay at home. But we want to be helpful during these times, and so we ask that your let your instructors know as promptly as possible when you are in need.


Classroom and Logistics Concerns

Q: Will all School of Music classes have an online option, or only some?

A: The majority of our classes are being offered online. But we will still have quite a few that are fully face-to-face (like a traditional class) and many that are “hybrid,” a mix of face-to-face and online teaching. Some courses will offer both a 100% online section and a full face-to-face or hybrid section.

The Course Explorer system (https://courses.illinois.edu/schedule/2021/spring) will indicate whether the course is entirely online (the course will say “Online” for the type and/or location) or has a face-to-face component (a specific room assignment will be indicated). It will also indicate (in the “Section Info” row) whether the course is hybrid or not. This is the best place to learn about the courses you’re interested in. (You sign up for your courses in the online registration system, but that system provides only minimal information about how the courses are taught.)

The School of Music is committed to doing everything we can to ensure that course delivery methods will not impede or interfere with degree progress. To that end, we will do our best to offer both online and face-to-face formats, but we cannot guarantee this for every course. For students who have questions, please contact Jenny Phillips (jhorn@illinois.edu, graduates) or Rebecca Spennetta (rspen@illinois.edu, undergraduates) for assistance (they will be in touch with the relevant instructors as needed).


Q: Can students choose to take some classes online and some in person, or is it a binary choice between fully online or fully in person?

A: Students can enroll in a schedule of courses with mixed delivery options. The choice does not have to be fully one or the other.


Q: If a student starts the semester in person, will they be allowed to switch to online at any point during the semester? [UPDATED Jan. 4]

A: Students need to check with their instructors about changing their course delivery mode. A course that has both delivery modes (online and face-to-face/hybrid) will be able to accommodate this request. A course that does not may not be able to accommodate the student’s request.

Students can independently make changes to their schedules up until the 10th day of classes (February 5). After the 10th day, any section changes or course additions will require instructor consultation and approval. Students can drop classes via Self Service until February 19 without a grade of W.


Q: How are undergraduate placement exams in musicianship, piano proficiency, and music theory going to work?

A: They will be offered online. Our academic advisor, Rebecca Spennetta, will be sending information to incoming undergraduate students about these exams.


Q: How are graduate entrance exams in musicianship, music history, and music theory going to work?

A: They will be offered online. The Director of Graduate Studies, Reynold Tharp, will be sending information to incoming graduate students about these exams.


Q: How are graduate exams (Qual 1 & 2, preliminary exams, and final doctoral project defenses) going to work?

A: All exams will continue to be taken online. Please contact Jenny Phillips (jhorn@illinois.edu) with specific questions.


Q: Will Zoom lectures and presentations of synchronous (i.e., real-time) online classes be recorded for international students in other time zones?

A: This would depend on the course and the faculty member. Please contact the instructor directly to see what they are planning to do, and follow up with Rebecca Spennetta (rspen@illinois.edu, undergraduates) or Jenny Phillips (jhorn@illinois.edu, graduates), as needed.


Q: How can online/remote students fulfill their Early Field Experience (EFE) hour requirements?

A: This will vary from course to course and may be subject to change with school district guidance. Please check with your instructor.

Students can be assured, however, that they will not be asked to do anything that they feel would compromise their safety. The music education faculty is working diligently to provide EFE hours in a myriad of ways, keeping both University of Illinois and K-12 student/teacher safety in mind. We are working closely with the Council on Teacher Education, which provides updates from the Illinois State Board of Education whenever available, and the ISBE understands that these are unprecedented times.


Q: How will supplemental instrument classes be handled for music education students?

A: We typically require supplemental instrument courses to be completed prior to taking MUS 350, but we are suspending that practice for now—the supplemental courses can be taken before, during, or after MUS 350 to make scheduling more flexible.

Most of our supplemental instrument courses will include a face-to-face component. Students for whom this is an issue should speak with Rebecca Spennetta (rspen@illinois.edu). Please be advised that we cannot ship instruments for supplemental instrument courses. Any student enrolled in a supplemental instrument course will need to show up in person to check out an instrument from the School of Music.


Q: How will instrument loans work this semester?

A: Supplemental and studio instruments will be available for students on campus and/or living in the Urbana-Champaign area, and must be picked up in person—we are unable to ship them.

Supplemental instruments can be checked out to students enrolled in courses. Studio instruments will be handled on a case-by-case basis. All instruments will be subject to strict quarantining and sanitizing procedures for student safety.

Students whose classes require the use of supplemental instruments but who are not attending classes in person should contact Nathan Mandel (nmandel2@illinois.edu) or Rebecca Spennetta (rspen@illinois.edu).


Q: Are students able to use practice rooms this semester?

A: Yes. Music majors and minors registered for lessons will have access to an assigned practice room. The rooms will be shared with up to three other students. (Students who are not music majors and minors registered for lessons may petition for practice room use through the Practice Room Petition Form.)

All students wishing to use the practice rooms MUST be registered for MUS 499 PR for 0 credits in addition to their lessons. Once you’ve registered for both your lessons AND MUS 499 PR, please fill out the Practice Room Request Form and you will be assigned a space.

Once your request is received and cross-checked, you will receive an email with your room assignment.

Percussion, harp, organ, and harpsichord students must also contact their applied professors directly for access to those spaces. (Again, you must also be registered for MUS 499 PR.)

Only one student may be in a practice room at a time—collaborative work (e.g., working with an accompanist, performing with another student, etc.) must take place in one of our chamber-music spaces (these can be reserved through the Atlas Room Scheduler on the SoM Operations & Facilities page).


Q: How will recitals work? What are the capacity limits for the audience and/or performers?

A: Recitals may take place in-person (i.e., on campus in our halls) or remotely. Students should discuss all details of how their recital will be performed—including the repertoire and number of performers involved—with their applied instructor in advance of scheduling.

All recitals—whether on or off campus—must observe local and/or state room-capacity limits and social-distancing requirements for both performers and audience members. School of Music performance spaces will be scheduled with mandatory empty times (30 minutes minimum) between events to allow rooms to ventilate. Recitals that involve aerosol-producing instruments (woodwinds and brass) and/or voices must include a 20-minute intermission to allow the room to ventilate.

In-person recitals should be recorded to share with faculty members who are not able to attend. Remote recitals may be presented through live-streaming or as an unedited video recording; streamed recitals should be recorded as well.

Information on recital scheduling and policies may be found here: https://music.illinois.edu/recital-planning. Required degree recitals have priority in scheduling.


Q: How will recording equipment be available/checked out to Music Technology students for assignments?

A: For course assignments requiring recording equipment, check with the instructor or the Properties Office for guidance on check-out policies.

Recording equipment not required for courses or assignments may be available on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Nathan Mandel (nmandel2@illinois.edu) in the Properties Office.


Q: How will online Music Technology students have access to the computers and software normally provided for assignments done in the computer lab?

A: Instructors will work to adapt their assignments to the student’s own personal technology and software equipment. Some equipment may also be available for loan from the instructor or the Properties Office. These details will be explained in the individual classes.



Q: How will lessons be taught this semester?

A: Regular lessons will take place either in person or remotely. Your instructors will be in touch to discuss your and their teaching preferences. Students who are not returning to campus in the fall or who are not able to take their lessons in person for other reasons will be able to take their lessons remotely.

Lessons that take place face-to-face will mostly be held in classroom spaces, although some may still be given in professors’ studios if the room is large enough to accommodate safe social distancing.

Masks must be worn during in-person lessons by both the student and faculty member. We have also purchased HEPA filters that will be used during lessons involving aerosol-producing instruments and voices.


Q: Will specialty masks be provided for those students that require them?

A: Yes. We have ordered gaiters that woodwind and brass players can wear while performing, as well as Broadway Relief Project singer’s masks. We have ordered enough for every student member to have one. Students should use these masks only while performing, not all the time. We have also ordered bell covers for brass and woodwind instruments.


Q: How will juries work this semester?

A: They will all be happening online.



Q: Will being enrolled in an ensemble still be required for enrollment in the SoM?

A: Yes. All students in degree programs that have an ensemble requirement will still be expected to fulfill that requirement.

All of our large ensembles for majors are being broken up into smaller chamber groups that will meet, for the most part, during the times that had been reserved for the large groups.

For those students who are off campus or do not feel comfortable performing in an in-person ensemble, an online section has been created for which an alternate project will be assigned to fulfil the requirement.

Note that all of our ensemble rehearsal times are going to be substantially reduced in order to ensure student safety. Some ensembles may also meet for only part of the semester due to space restrictions. All ensemble rehearsals will adhere to the safety measures outlined below, which include mask usage, a rigorous cleaning regimen, and the distancing suggested by university studies for the instruments involved.


Q: Do I need to audition for ensemble, even if I’m all online?

A: If ensemble participation is part of your degree requirements (which is true for most of our students), then yes. Your audition will determine which ensemble director will supervise your chamber group or alternative project, and which ensemble will appear on your university transcript. It will also help us to track your progress in the program, and keep us ready for the day that large ensembles can start meeting again in person.

More specifics about the ensemble auditions are posted here: https://music.illinois.edu/join-ensemble.


Q: For students who opt out of in-person ensembles, will they be able to propose their own alternate project or are ensemble directors developing a standard assignment for all online students?

A: Alternate ensemble projects will be determined by the ensemble directors.


Q: Can online elective courses be used as a credit substitution for ensembles?

A: No.



Q: Can School of Music sponsored Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) still meet?

A: Yes, School of Music sponsored RSOs can meet, but must hold to the same health and safety standards outlined above and on the Health and Safety section of the University’s Covid-19 FAQ. Room requests may be made through the Room Scheduler.

Note that building access regulations and staffing restrictions may impact the groups that are able to meet in School spaces and the times that are available. Please contact Nathan Mandel (nmandel2@illinois.edu) with any questions.

For performance-oriented RSOs, contact them directly to find out about auditions and rehearsal times.


Q: Where can I go between classes if I do not have enough time to get home for my next class held via Zoom?

A: We have set up a study space in the south lobby of the Music Building and there is a study space in the lobby of the Krannert Center (across Oregon Street from the Music Building).


Q: Will faculty hold office hours?

A: Yes. Faculty will hold regular office hours via Zoom. Students who cannot attend scheduled office hours should contact faculty directly for individual meetings.


Q: Is the library open for in-person services?

A: MPAL has a COVID-19 FAQ. Please view their guidelines here: https://www.library.illinois.edu/geninfo/covid-19/


Q: Will Theory and Musicianship tutoring services still be available?

A: Yes. Tutoring services will be delivered online.


Q: Will I need any special equipment to succeed at the SoM this year?

A: Yes. In addition to a computer of some kind, we are asking that all students have access to the following:

  • A good quality microphone (for anyone taking individual lessons)

  • Some kind of piano keyboard—either acoustic or digital (for freshman, sophomores, and others taking Theory 101/201, Musicianship 107/108/207 or Group Piano 172/174). Electronic keyboards should have a sustain pedal of some kind, and you may wish to have a keyboard stand.

  • A folding music stand for ensemble rehearsals on campus (so that students don’t have to share stands)

While students will likely find it more convenient to purchase their own equipment (and we encourage them to do so if they have the means), we do have a limited number of USB microphones, lightning microphones (for iPhones and iPads), and Casio 61-key keyboards available for semester loan at the Property Office on a first-come-first-served basis. Students must pick this equipment up in person, for use in the Champaign-Urbana area.

For specific equipment recommendations, please see the recent letter sent by Director Sposato.