COVID-19 Information for the Bienen School Community

For continued updates regarding Northwestern University's response to COVID-19, visit the link below:
Northwestern COVID-19 and Campus Updates

NOTE: This page will be updated as more information becomes available. Last updated 9/9/2021

Health and Safety Top

The Bienen School's instruction presents unique considerations during the pandemic. Therefore, in collaboration with University administration, we have developed a unique reporting protocol.

What happens if you test positive for COVID-19?

If you are identified through testing as a positive case, you may first be notified electronically before you are contacted by the NU COVID Response Team (CRT). Due to Illinois Department of Public Health regulations and scheduled batch reporting from the NU testing labs, it could be hours after the electronic notification before the same information of a positive test is provided to the NU CRT and to Bienen administrators.

As a member of the Bienen community, if you are notified of a positive test please follow these steps:

1) If you receive notification of a positive result prior to hearing from the CRT, immediately begin to self-isolate pending further guidance and call the CRT at 847-491-8422.

2) Next, and as soon as possible, please contact the appropriate individual, as follows:

This notification will provide the Bienen administrative team the immediate opportunity to consider whether certain classes, ensembles, or other activities should be canceled or moved to a remote format while the contact tracing process runs its course. Upon review, Bienen administrators will notify appropriate faculty, who will notify students of any canceled instruction.

Academics Top

As Northwestern announced in a June 25 memo, the University expects the vast majority of services and activities will return to in-person status for the 2021-22 academic year. For the Bienen School, this means all classes will resume meeting in-person, lessons will take place in teaching studios, and ensembles will be held in Bienen performance/rehearsal venues. School offices will also resume full staffing in-person. There are currently no distancing guidelines or capacity limitations in place in classrooms and administrative settings.

Given Bienen’s unique and varied teaching activities, administration strongly encourages everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to show their Green SymptomTracker badge as they arrive at a class, rehearsal or any other in-person activity. 

Academic and Performance Classes

Planned to occur in-person based on assigned locations with no current minimum distancing guidelines or capacity limitations. Faculty and students must wear masks in indoor shared public spaces when it does not interfere with singing or playing an instrument. 

Applied Lessons

All applied lessons will be held in-person in faculty studios. For added protection, faculty and accompanists must continue wearing masks. Students must wear a mask during lessons, whenever possible. Confirmation of a Green SymptomTracker of everyone in the studio is required.

Large Ensembles, Studio/Small Jazz Ensembles and Chamber Music

All instrumental and vocal ensembles are planned to resume regular rehearsal and performance schedules in their usual venues.  There currently are no minimum distancing guidelines or capacity limitations, reduced rehearsal lengths, or periods defined between activities for air circulation. Students and faculty are allowed to remove their masks during rehearsals as required to sing or play their instrument and replace them once rehearsals conclude. Confirmation of a Green SymptomTracker of everyone in the ensemble is required. 

Student Recitals

Students will resume the process for scheduling both degree-required recitals and informal recitals, including conducting and composition students. We do not anticipate limitations on the number of performers. Recitals will follow the same masking protocol as other performances. 

Practice Rooms

Student access to practice rooms resumes on a first-come, first-served basis, as provided during pre-pandemic conditions. Access to practice rooms requires an active Wildcard, and student cards are programmed with different access to certain rooms depending on a student’s area of study or specific instrument needs. Students using a practice room alone are not required to wear a mask.  Students practicing with an accompanist or other students are required to follow the masking mandate unless removing the mask is required for singing or playing their instrument. Confirmation of a Green SymptomTracker of everyone in the practice room is required. 

Student Advising

All student advising is currently being conducted remotely. Information about fall quarter advising will be shared at a later date. Students should contact their advisor with questions. 

Technology Recommendations

Students are encouraged to obtain the following items to aid in any remote coursework, should the need arise. For additional technology resources, visit the Keep Learning website.

  1. A good, independent microphone that can be positioned to capture the instrument, ideally on a tripod.
  2. An independent webcam, also positionable, so that faculty can assess student technique.
  3. A computer with a minimum i5 processor (4 years old or less), at least 8 GB of RAM, and a SSD hard drive with 30 GB available.
  4. A wired ethernet connection to an internet source or a wireless router that is less than 20 feet away.
  5. An internet connection with a minimum of 25 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload. If students are sharing their internet with others in the household during class time, this may need to be at least doubled.
  6. A good pair of headphones, so that the outgoing audio is isolated from the incoming audio.


For questions regarding undergraduate programs, contact Linda Jacobs, or Jeff Merkley,

For questions regarding graduate programs, contact Patrick Zylka or Christina Wouters at

Concerts and Events Top

The Bienen School of Music is delighted to welcome audiences back to our concert halls this academic year. In order to continue prioritizing the health and safety of our Northwestern community, as well as our concert attendees, we are implementing the following regarding concert and event attendance in the Fall 2021 academic quarter:

  • All fall concerts will be General Admission and free of charge. Tickets will still be required for entry, and attendees are encouraged to reserve their tickets online in advance. In the event of a cancellation or postponement, ticketholders will be notified via email.
  • All audience members and Concerts@Bienen staff, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear masks at all times while indoors.  
  • In the event that an attendee does not have a mask upon arrival to our facilities, a disposable mask will be provided for you. Hand sanitizer will be available at all venues.
  • The Bienen School is not requiring proof of COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test at this time. However, this is subject to change pending guidance from Northwestern University and public health agencies.
  • Visitors who wish to receive a rapid antigen test prior to attending an event may do so on the Northwestern campus.
  • Patrons must agree to comply with the Bienen School of Music's COVID-19 Safety Acknowledgment when reserving tickets online.
  • In accordance with the State of Illinois’s current guidelines, there are no capacity limits or social distancing requirements for our audiences. However, we may restrict certain seats from use based on their proximity to the stage, particularly in situations where performers are not masked.
  • Performances will include intermissions where applicable.
  • Printed programs will continue to be available at each of our venues.
  • As with all visitors to campus, audience members are required to adhere to Northwestern’s current COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines

Northwestern and the Bienen School continue to monitor health conditions and develop health and safety policies in alignment with guidance from public health agencies and Northwestern's medical partners. These policies are subject to change.



Visiting the School Top

The Bienen School of Music is offering virtual undergraduate information sessions via Zoom. All sessions include a prerecorded facilities tour, followed by a presentation that will cover the application process, audition information, financial aid, degree options, and more. The session will include time for questions. You will receive a link to the meeting upon registration.
Register for a virtual information session

For the most up-to-date information on visiting campus, visit the Undergraduate Admissions website.

Trial Lessons

Prospective students are welcome to contact faculty to inquire about trial lessons. If you would like to take a private lesson or arrange a virtual meeting with any of the Bienen School faculty, please reach out to them directly by visiting the Faculty Profiles section of our website. Currently, Bienen faculty are only able to conduct trial lessons through Zoom, FaceTime, or some other online forum. The Office of Music Admission does not schedule lessons on behalf of Bienen School faculty


For information about the Bienen School of Music, visiting campus, or admission, please contact

Teaching Resources Top

Northwestern recommends using Canvas to manage teaching-related materials, announcements, and discussions. Zoom, which is integrated into Canvas, is the preferred method for video interactions (e.g., live classes, meetings, one-on-one teaching, etc.), sharing presentations, and recording lectures, which can be stored online and made available for download from Canvas.

Below are a few resources that faculty may find useful:


Remote Teaching and Learning Guidance (Northwestern Digital Learning)
Resources for Teaching, Learning, and Working Remotely (Northwestern IT)
Keep Teaching (Northwestern Digital Learning)
Example Canvas classes (Canvas)
Getting started with Canvas (Canvas)
Zoom Learning Center (Canvas)
Northwestern Zoom Backgrounds (Northwestern Brand Tools)
Teaching & Learning Technologies: Workshops (Eventbrite)
Troubleshooting Home Internet (Northwestern IT)

Guidelines for Recording Individual Student Lessons

Instructors can determine whether or not they would like to record class sessions or portions of class sessions. Generally, students are prohibited from recording class sessions and are also prohibited from the distribution of class recordings. (See Guidelines for Recording Synchronous Remote Class Content.) However, Bienen School instructors and students may record lessons, as such recordings are legitimate teaching tools. Use of these recordings is restricted for educational use only; copyright still applies.



See all Northwestern resources related to COVID-19

COVID-19 and Campus Updates