There were a number of programs at Spokane and Spokane Falls Community Colleges that seemed impossible to move online during the pandemic. Our community asked after trades programs, health classes, and more.
One program that seemed like it could only be held in-person was music, specifically piano classes. How can you teach, practice and assess this all online? It’s a hands-on program that requires motor skills, creativity, and visual and audio connection.
Dr. Rosi Guerrero, Music Instructor at SFCC, was up for the challenge. (You may recognize Dr. G, as her students call her, in our Thank You video, out today!) With a doctorate in performance, Dr. Guerrero says what keeps her inspired and dedicated to SFCC for the past 24 years are the students.
At the start of the pandemic, Dr. Guerrero took classes with CCS’s IT department to study online learning and programs like Panopto, Zoom and Canvas Essentials. Then she taught the students about it. She set up a home recording space with three (you read that right!) cameras: one over the piano, one on her desktop, and one for instruction. That way, students could always have the optimal views of her playing while listening to her instructions.
She’d record videos for lessons, then host classes and one-on-one sessions in zoom to assess the students’ progress. Students could even use the pre-recorded hands-on demonstrations to practice and prepare their homework.
“I never had a student not show up for Zoom,” Dr. Guerrero explained. She even had a student who would sign in at 2:00 a.m. her time because she was in Russia.
“With online learning, we can teach anywhere now.”
It was important for Dr. Guerrero to make this process work, not just so her students could complete their programs, but because she wanted to offer them a connection during such a hard time.
“I really thought about how I could deliver music to my students, which is essential for emotional reasons,” Dr. Guerrero explained. She had a host of new students interested in learning the piano while isolating at home.
“Our world is so different now.” Dr. Guerrero said her students ask what she thinks they can do in this career and hobby in the future. “I want to give them hope.”
One way to connect and offer that hope during the pandemic was Dr. Guerrero playing for her students at the start of every class. It was something she could provide to them in a special way for the class to start each session.
Meet Dr. Guerrero’s students!
Natalia is the student mentioned above who logged in to class at 2:00 a.m. her time. An international student from Russia, Natalia was unable to join the SFCC campus due to the pandemic. “Thanks to the online courses that SFCC provided, I was able to stay in my country for spring.” Natalia is now on campus here in Spokane and looking forward to meeting folks, taking new classes, and most importantly, her in-person lessons with Dr. Guerrero. Natalia is also a recipient of one of our prestigious CCS Foundation scholarships.
Ruby started her program at SFCC in person, but by spring of 2020 was forced to move her studies online. “Dr. Rosi Guerrero had one of the most effective online course plans I've gotten to experience.” Ruby graduated from SFCC last June and is now a junior at EWU finishing her BA in Music. She plans to then get her master’s in teaching.