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April 16, 2020

CIM Viola Students Invite Their Pets to Class


Virtual class
Photo courtesy of Mark Jackobs

Mark Jackobs has done this before.

Exactly one year ago, the Cleveland Institute of Music viola faculty member and Cleveland Orchestra violist was FaceTiming lessons to his students during the Orchestra’s tour of Asia.

Today, he’s teaching remotely again, this time from home, and for a completely different reason. Jackobs is one of hundreds of faculty at conservatories and music schools across the country who have been forced to switch to online teaching because of restrictions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Shifting gears for students oriented to physical gatherings can seem challenging, but to Jackobs, the transition has not been as daunting as it could have been for either him or his viola students.

“I am extremely fortunate that my studio is made up of very talented, highly motivated and very funny students,” Jackobs said. “Our studio class serves as time to offer creative support and motivation.”

Jackobs’ students Jacquelyn O’Brien, Olivia Espericueta, August Dubeau, Jerome McCoy, Sophia Torres, Breanna Lang and Jeanie Hwang wanted to lighten everyone’s moods so some of them had their pets sit in on a class last week. Having the dogs in class helped create a welcome distraction to all that’s going on in the world.

“During this difficult time, only they would come up with a pet show,” Jackobs mused. “It's touching to see how comfortable the students are now in their familiar surroundings. Now, this year, we're making the best of this situation by continuing online. The only challenge for my students has been enduring my affection for Rode and Gavinies etudes. Other than that, they’re all settling into this new rhythm.”

Following CIM’s transition to remote learning, CIM has adjusted some of its requirements and set flexible guidelines for students in order to accommodate for the variety of circumstances the Institute is undergoing right now, Jackobs said, adding that he’s grateful to have such understanding and hard-working students.

“I love all of my students,” Jackobs said. “Seeing them every week and hearing their progress gives me a tremendous amount of energy and a sense of hope. We’re all going to get through this together.”