View a draft of the School’s Fall 2020 partial re-opening plan here.

July 6, 2020

Dear HBMS Families,

Due to ongoing concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to place a number of our ensemble programs on hiatus for the Fall 2020-21 Semester, and to move others online. We also will conduct the majority of our musicianship classes online during the first semester. In all cases, our goal is to return to in-person class and ensemble instruction at the beginning of the Spring Semester, assuming it is then safe to do so. 

In the interim, we are also pleased to announce an exciting new learning opportunity—our Virtual Performance Program (details below)—specifically designed to make the most of the moment we are now in while providing opportunities for students to continue to develop their ensemble skills.

We are also preparing to resume in-personrecitals and performance workshops,following all recommended precautions, including social distancing protocols and limited audience sizes, in October. We will continue to offer online recital and performance workshop opportunities as well.

We expect that some private lessons will be able to be conducted in-person as well as online; however, the decision as to which mode to pursue will be determined by individual teachers and students, in accordance with their specific health and safety needs.

Key factors driving our decision-making include:

  • The fact that our student, faculty and staff populations are drawn from more than 50 communities across New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, requires us to take extraordinary measures to keep the School from serving as a hub for the spread of COVID-19.

  • The reality of asymptomatic spread means that it is not possible to detect all persons infected with COVID-19, even with careful screening. 

  • Social distancing requirements limit the number of classroom and rehearsal spaces on our campus where it is possible to conduct classes and/or rehearsals with adequate spacing. 

  • Groups of students in our classes and ensembles disband between one session and reconstitute, in different configurations, for the next. Keeping the same group of students together within a single space for the entire time they are here on any given day, as is recommended for schools, is not a viable option given the nature of our programming.

  • Our HBMS community includes students, faculty, staff, and family members ranging in age from 9 months to 80+ years of age, many of whom are at high risk for serious complications if infected by COVID-19. Their health and safety must be our highest priority.

Therefore, to ensure everyone’s safety, only limited on-site activities are practicable under current conditions.

That said, we believe deeply in the importance of keeping music in the center of our lives, all the more so in times like these. Music heals and the bonds forged through making music together sustain us as individuals and as a community.

The friendships formed between our students and between students and teachers are of inestimable value and worthy of every effort to support and sustain them through difficult times. Though the COVID-19 crisis may be the most challenging of our lifetimes, it is temporary; it will pass. And our community of students, teachers, staff and family members will be stronger both during and after this crisis for our efforts to continue to learn and play together.

Links to detail descriptions of programmatic changes planned for the Fall are below. But first, a few words about our exciting new Virtual Performance Program, designed to make the most of our current circumstances and provide students tools to respond creatively:

Alternative Ensemble and Technology Program: Virtual Performance Program

Through this one-semester program (Fall 2020), students will develop ensemble skills while learning the entire process of creating a virtual ensemble performance – learning and recording their parts; and synching, editing, and publishing final recordings on social media. Students will share work, exchange feedback, and develop the ability to navigate the challenges and opportunities of learning, creating, and sharing online performances with digital tools. Learn more here.

Plans for the Fall 2020-21 Semester by Division

Thank you for your understanding. We will be in touch with those of you who have already registered for a class or ensemble that will be on hiatus during the Fall Semester to make alternative arrangements. In the meantime, should you have questions about specific classes or ensembles, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at If you would like to speak to us by phone, please share your number and let us know the best times to reach you.

Please keep safe and well.


Your Friends at Hoff-Barthelson Music School