Joe Deer co-chair of Musical Theatre Education in COVID Times symposium initiative

Joe Deer, chair of the Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures, has organized the Musical Theatre Education in COVID Times online symposium.

An international online symposium for educators titled Musical Theatre Education in COVID Times is an initiative created and co-chaired by Joe Deer, chair of Wright State University’s Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures.

The symposium, a Zoom webinar hosted by the Musical Theatre Educators’ Alliance, is designed to address health and safety concerns in teaching singing, dance and acting classes as well as production challenges. It will offer technological solutions and innovations that will help educators do their work in distanced and other circumstances.

The webinar, which is free and open to all teachers and the public, is scheduled for Wednesday, June 10, from 7 to 10 p.m. on Zoom. Users may log in using the meeting ID 985 5445 2513. No password is required.

Deer said the Musical Theatre Educators’ Alliance is the perfect organization to lead the critical conversation about how to move forward with the restrictions that safe practices require. The alliance, founded by Deer 20 years ago, has become the most influential body of educators in the field.

“We’ve always been at the forefront of the international conversation on innovative ways to teach and create,” said Deer. “I look forward to learning more about how we’ll move forward together.”

The symposium is expected to bring together representatives from major publishers and licensing organizations for musical theatre and attract as many as 500 participants.

“We wanted to have a conversation about how we can best support the social, educational and emotional well-being of our students, whether through distance-learning, a hybrid model or in-person,” said Stacy Alley, president of MTEA and head of musical theatre at The University of Alabama.

The webinar will be divided into three 60-minute sections. The first will address health concerns; the second, performance opportunities; and the third various technologies and platforms outside of Zoom that are specifically designed for performing artists in training and performance environments.

Symposium panelists will include Michael Saag, associate dean for Global Health at the University of Alabama Birmingham, who will discuss COVID-19 research and how it affects musical theatre; Wendy LeBorgne, voice pathologist and vocal athlete expert; and representatives from Theatrical Rights Worldwide, iTheatrics, Concord Theatricals and Musical Theatre International to address innovations and options for performing arts organizations during the coronavirus pandemic.

From a technology standpoint, Jeff Lazarus, president of Real Time Music Solutions, will discuss its Rehearsal Live Share feature; and music director Daniel Abrahamson will discuss Jamkazam, Jamulus and other live virtual music collaboration options.

“While this webinar does not claim to provide all the answers, it will provide the foundation for an ongoing conversation that examines how musical theatre educators can go forward with training and performance,” said Deer.

The Musical Theatre Educators’ Alliance was founded in 1999 as a means for teachers of young professional artists to come together and exchange ideas, methodologies and solutions to common challenges in the academic settings of universities and conservatories.

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