Together We Innovate: Curtis Alumni Mentor Network

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#GivingTuesday was created to encourage people to do good. It has grown into a global movement that aspires to unleash the power of people and organizations to transform their communities. Gie and Lisa Liem Artistic Advisor to the President and Chair of Composition Studies David Ludwig (Composition ’01) shares how COVID-19 was the catalyst for program innovation connecting our alumni, current students, and talented high school musicians in new exciting ways.
“One challenge we face at Curtis is fulfilling our mission to engage a global community while being such a small school. That’s why we rely on our alumni as a resource with their incredible experience and accomplishments to share the musical inheritance. The Curtis Alumni Mentor Network builds community with our alumni by helping them cultivate teaching studios. This is an example of something that we could have been doing before, but that COVID-19 has focused us on.”

“This first pilot was created in collaboration with alumni faculty from our summer programs–people we know are great teachers and are comfortable teaching online. The program’s main objective is to help prepare young musicians for upcoming auditions, competitions, and music festivals (this is developing as we add adult learners in the next iteration). And we are constantly looking at available technology so these lessons can live up to the artistry of the teaching.”
“We are also including studio classes taught by current Curtis students for the program participants. This gives Curtis students the opportunity to gain teaching experience while learning from our alumni mentors as teaching assistants. The pilot program is a virtuous circle–we not only can affect the economy of our alumni mentors but also share our music making with aspiring young musicians who wouldn’t necessarily have the access to this level of learning otherwise.”

The Curtis Alumni Mentor Network pilot program launched in October 2020 and includes five weeks of online mentoring to high school music students practicing for upcoming college auditions, festivals, and competitions. Weekly lessons take place using Cleanfeed and Google Meet, and are supplemented by studio classes and Monday-through-Friday support from current Curtis students working as teaching assistants. This pilot tests four hypotheses around preparatory demand, an equitable pricing model, suitable educational software, and demonstrated student progress. Results from the pilot will inform future programs as Curtis refines and scales the pilot to serve as many students as possible while expanding our network of participating alumni mentors.
(Photo: Curtis Alumni Mentor Sonora Slocum teaches an online lesson to her pilot student.)
How are you innovating, learning, and adapting? We encourage you to share your stories with us on social media. Remember to tag @CurtisInstitute so that we can share, like, and comment.
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