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The Universal Language: Music Professors Teach Worldwide

Lebanon valley college's blair music center

“Music is the universal language that draws us together and allows us to express our fears, joys, and desires,” said Dr. Shelly Moorman-Stahlman, LVC professor of music.

The past few months have charted unknown territories for everyone across the globe, leaving some rather unsettled. To help ease the lingering uncertainty and anxiety surrounding change, three LVC music professors reached out locally and globally to offer online music lessons. 

Dr. Eric Fung, associate professor of music, took the opportunity to offer online piano lessons to current LVC students and alumni. He offers these lessons through Zoom, a video communications software, where he instructs his students live. Although the move to online lessons has proven to have the expected roadblocks along the way, Fung reflected on the growing experience of it all.

“It is therapeutic, for it takes our mind off the current circumstance and transports us into another world,” said Fung. “It sparks imaginations and helps us express emotions that cannot be expressed fully with words.”

Moving forward, Fung looks to embrace in-person and virtual teaching as he continues to learn and experience new opportunities alongside his students. In times of unsureness, Fung truly believes music transcends cultural differences and brings us together. 

Similarly to Fung, Moorman-Stahlman has taken the move to online learning as a chance to expand her horizons and connect with people across seas. Having previous experience teaching organ lessons online, she was more prepared and experienced. Like Fung, Moorman-Stahlman primarily uses Zoom to connect with her students but also uses WhatsApp, a cross-platform communications app.  

Moorman-Stahlman is extremely thankful to be able to continue her lessons virtually with her students in Brazil who are a part of a cultural exchange program with LVC that has occurred every January since 2016. Knowing that the current political environment in Brazil is challenging, she is grateful to be able to offer lessons as a means of escape and release for her students.  

“In a strange way, the virus has brought together our world. No country seems to be immune to it,” said Moorman-Stahlman. “When the students play, they are not Brazilians or Americans, they are simply students and musicians who want to further their art.”

Inspired by her time teaching online with her Brazilian students, Moorman-Stahlman has committed to the continuation of online, private lessons, and is considering constructing an online church music class for her Brazilian students. 

Dr. Greg Strohman ’08, adjunct instructor of music, who has offered online music lessons since 2015, was no stranger to the format. As someone who values the connections technology has allowed for, Strohman was excited to share his knowledge of what can be accomplished even at a distance. He took on students inside and outside LVC, and mainly offered live instruction through Zoom. Among the lessons Strohman offered was low brass, piano, and music composition and theory.

Understanding that many students felt music-isolated and anxious over the sudden break in schedule, Strohman was pleased to offer a sense of normalcy through the continuation of virtual music lessons. Looking forward, he plans to continue his online offerings, and cannot wait to see how his students apply long-distance communication to future projects and collaborations. 

“Online teaching is a unique experience,” said Strohman. “You get to work with someone who might live very far away from you, invite them into your home, and be invited into their home at the same time. There is something deeply personal and special about that.”

 

--- Parker Gallagher, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant