Accreditation process prepared Music School of Del. for the pandemic crisis


Kate M. Ransom

Editor’s Note: Open Call is a weekly column in which we ask artistic and cultural leaders to share their perspectives on exiting the COVID-19 crisis and returning audiences.

“The Arts” are about PEOPLE.

Through artistic efforts, we express ourselves. We “make noise” (on stage, on canvas, in a movie or whatever) to convey what it means to exist, and what matters to us.

The Delaware School of Music has been the primary local community resource for nearly a century for people to experience these experiences through music. We welcome people of all abilities throughout Delaware and residents of areas beyond.

When a public health crisis threatened the well-being of people everywhere, in music school, we asked, “How can we continue to serve? “” How are we going to continue to deliver? “” What is our goal in this time of great stress, fear and danger? Our response to the pandemic has been guided by our responses.

We responded like other organizations in many ways. We have continued, supported our people – kept our teachers and staff, our students and families engaged in music creation, and our donors and friends in the know. We have made all the necessary adaptations to do so. We continued to provide private, group and ensemble lessons, modified to provide meaningful, albeit different, experiences.

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Guided by our mission, we determined that our goal had not changed: We remained committed to bringing “more music to more people in more places.”

We responded to changing circumstances – while prioritizing PEOPLE to determine what it was safe for us to do – and how. It took tremendous effort on the part of staff and faculty – and the courage of our Board of Trustees.

The winds and brass of the Delaware Youth Symphony Orchestra perform for the first time with strings and percussion, outdoors.

As things progressed, we saw how important our mission and our programs are. We have harnessed the potential of virtual broadcasting, reaching new students and audiences from near and far, even in California, Canada, Texas, Florida, Norway and Africa! And last year, the school achieved the highest enrollment rate for private lessons since 2014.

The families, communities and partners of the School of Music are our dear raison d’être. And the dedication and care of the school’s 85 teachers, 25 staff and board is a source of pride.

The strength of their collective commitment has never been more evident than in the past 18 months. The pandemic has been nothing short of extremely difficult, and the music school’s organizational response has been unified, decisive, and immediate.

If it could be said that there are blessings hidden in something as devastating as a pandemic, in music school, that would be the resounding assertion of the importance of the arts.

The fear that classical music was a dying business has been allayed. On the contrary, it seems obvious that when people experience stress and distress, they turn to music as a healing balm for respite and relief from worry, worry, and suffering – in this case caused by pain. frightening public health crisis. Practicing an instrument on a daily basis, guided by weekly music lessons, is a positive, active and captivating activity – a welcome counterbalance to “screen time”.

Our response to the pandemic has tested and worn us down to the bone, but has also generated assertions.

Kate M. Ransom has been President and CEO of the Music School of Delaware since 1999. Prior to coming to Delaware, she served nine years as Director of the Music Division at the Harid Conservatory in Florida, and three years previously at Settlement Music. School.  of Philadelphia, she was professor of violin and chamber music and coordinator of chamber music.

As of March 2020, the music school had just completed a three-day scrutiny by accreditation assessors (February 2020) following their review of our comprehensive 105-page self-study (with 26 appendices). Eighteen months earlier (fall 2018) the preparations had started – the school’s top-to-bottom assessment. Discussions with faculty, staff, board, and surveys of others yielded a great deal of information about the school. The power of this rigorous approach to accreditation has been a unifying driver of improvement and a basis for resilience.

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Since the school conducted its first accreditation process in 2004, I have often been asked what its value was. The merits of accreditation do not lie in obtaining a “badge” but in carrying out the process. The unifying and affirmative benefits have been evident throughout the pandemic.

The music school is responsible for meeting the individual needs of thousands of people every week. With surprising agility, we have made the changes necessary to survive and thrive during this crisis.

The creativity and drive of our workforce, along with the passionate belief that what we do account for, has made this possible. Students, families and communities need us. It is the heart of our organization – perhaps the ultimate key to the confidence with which we have continued to move forward during the pandemic.

We will continue to bring music to life for the people we serve with more dedication, confidence and confidence than ever before.

The pandemic has shown us that the arts really do make a difference, and it really matters.

Kate M. Ransom has been President and CEO of the Music School of Delaware since 1999.

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