Across academia, enrollment in online or distance-learning courses has grown consistently over the past decade, even where traditional enrollments have decreased. Conservatories have been slow to enter this market, but with one in four college students now taking at least one online course, many academic leaders see online learning as a critical part of the future of higher education.
For Peabody, establishing a presence in the world of online learning was a natural next step under the tenets of the Breakthrough Plan.
“We saw an opportunity to distinguish ourselves in terms of being innovative and future-focused among leading schools of music by building an online program that complements our traditional on-campus curriculum,” notes Associate Dean Sarah Hoover (DMA ’08, Voice). “We also saw an opportunity to leverage our affiliation with Johns Hopkins University in creating a course and a certificate program which we believe are truly unique — and important — offerings for musicians.”
After many months of market research, expert consultations, and course development, the first course offered to the public through the new Peabody Online program was launched in January. Playing Well — Anatomy and Movement is a 14-week, two-credit, graduate-level course for musicians, offered completely online. It is the first of four courses in the projected Playing Well certificate series, which introduces a range of occupational health issues specific to the needs of musicians.
“Research suggests that as many as four of every five instrumentalists will experience some kind of playing-related muscle, tendon, or nerve disorder,” notes Serap Bastepe-Gray (BM ’96, MM ’99, Guitar), a member of both the Peabody Conservatory guitar faculty and the Johns Hopkins University Department of Neurology faculty, and one of the teachers of the Playing Well course. “There is an undeniable athletic component to playing an instrument. However, unlike athletes, musicians are not typically trained in anatomy and movement, common playing-related injuries and their treatments, injury prevention strategies, and mental fitness techniques. Recent review of literature suggests that adopting the positive aspects of sports training and culture may reduce risks and provide better support for musicians experiencing playing-related disorders.”
That capacity to expand the breadth of courses Peabody is able to offer is one of the benefits of taking teaching online, says Hoover. Another is the flexibility online learning offers for students in terms of both when and where they complete the course-work, freeing them to take advantage of courses that might not otherwise fit in their schedules. For many of Peabody’s international students, this means they can complete an English language prerequisite before they arrive in Baltimore.
For alumni and others, it means they will not have to return to campus to take advantage of some of the components of Peabody’s exciting new Breakthrough Curriculum in Music Leadership. Courses in community engagement skills for artists and in career skills like marketing, self-promotion, grant-writing, and programming are currently under development for Peabody Online.
“These are the skills we are teaching current undergraduates to equip them for success as 21st-century citizen artists,” notes Hoover. “What could be more fitting than to offer this expertise on a 21st-century learning platform?”
— Tiffany Lundquist