ENCORE Illinois: Setting up students for success after graduation
By Elizabeth Peterson
During the height of the pandemic and for the start of the spring 2021 semester, performing ensembles, especially bands and choirs, adhered to a strictly enforced set of protocols designed to keep students and faculty safe, making ensemble participation possible but different. Additionally, the conductors of these ensembles offered a virtual ‘ensemble’ option called ENCORE Illinois so students who remained off campus could participate and earn their ensemble credit. Led by conducting faculty, ENCORE included a diverse group of expert panelists from around the country who asynchronously explored a variety of timely topics including entrepreneurship, careers in the arts, cultural sensitivity, and the composition process. Students were asked to select eight topics that interested them, submit questions to the expert panelists, and write a reflection on the presentation. The program was quite successful as it allowed faculty and students to examine these topics without the pressure of the next concert performance. One student shared, “I watched every video and learned a great deal from each session. I appreciated the topics that were discussed, as well as the diverse panel of speakers. They talked about difficult topics, but they did so in a way that was meaningful, relatable, and helpful for future educators and musicians.” School of Music alumni have found success in a variety of music-related fields. ENCORE Illinois challenges students to explore relevant, real-world topics and careers in music so they can appreciate what full-time employment as a musician after graduation might look like. In doing so, the School of Music is preparing students to chart their own path in the musical world – producing graduates who will find new and innovative ways to serve the field of music and their communities. Watch all of the ENCORE Illinois panel discussions at go.illinois.edu/encore.