The cancellations and lockdowns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have proven a challenge for many educators, but music teachers have especially felt its challenges. How can music ensembles practice and perform together during stay-at-home orders? What do virtual lessons look like?

These questions aren’t easy to answer, but faculty members like Karen Albert (B.A. ’15), an adjunct professor in the Communication, Media & Music Division at Cornerstone University, have found creative ways to address them. The 2019-20 academic year was Albert’s first year as a professor at Cornerstone, teaching applied voice lessons and Music History III.

“This year was really interesting,” Albert said. “Both semesters had their challenges.” During the first semester, Albert battled bronchitis, making it difficult to teach. Then during the second semester, classes moved online and students were sent home.

“I was really impressed by how the students stayed connected and how they navigated the change,” Albert said. “The faculty and staff members were also really supportive during the spring.”

Just before the pandemic, Albert had sung with a professional choral group and traveled to Mobile, Ala. for a music conference with the American Choral Directors Association and to sing with The Red Shift choir. She has also sung with Opera Grand Rapids and is a choral scholar at Park Church. This first year of teaching has showed Albert how to balance both aspects of her life as a musician.

“It’s challenging to have a teaching and performance career,” Albert said. “This pandemic has shown us that remote learning is possible, which makes balancing that more accessible.”