Late last March, I was sitting by my wife’s hospital bed, holding her hand as she delivered our fifth child into the world. I had my phone in my other hand, looking at the latest news about the state going into lockdown and texting with my staff about the next steps for MnSOM. It felt like the world was falling apart, but at the same time, I was elated to become a father of five.

This is the first newsletter you’ve seen from us for about a year (we’re happy to be back in your mailbox!), though many of you are familiar with my background and how MnSOM got started from previous years of newsletters. My staff and I had worked so hard to grow MnSOM to be able to serve as many students as possible, and our enrollment was at an all-time high. As everything began closing, I knew we needed to keep the school running, so we were on the leading edge of using Zoom to run remote classes.

We had special meetings with staff to train them on delivering online lessons and how to troubleshoot the new technology, and they were up and running quickly. While sports and most extracurricular activities came to a halt, we were so happy to offer our students some consistency by keeping their music lessons available via remote courses. That wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our staff, who took the extra initiative to learn quickly so we could continue delivering our services. Thank you so much for your hard work!

I also have to thank the parents and students who stuck with us and came along for what sometimes was a bumpy ride! Parents have done an awesome job of making sure their kids are logged in for lessons on time and stay focused. (That can be tricky when learning from home!) And we’ve all been so impressed with how our students adapted and embraced this new learning opportunity. Even with the Zoom fatigue many of us are starting to feel, our students value their teachers and lessons enough to keep showing up. So, thank you so much for your understanding and support this last year.

As a father of five, I know there can be considerable challenges to distance learning. Keeping your kids happy, healthy, and safe while also making sure they continue to learn and grow is exponentially more difficult during a pandemic when everything is topsy-turvy. We’re happy to report that we’re inching back to normal and feel very optimistic about what the summer holds. (See Page 2 for a fun event in the works!) We’ve been offering in-person lessons since last June, making sure to take all the recommended safety precautions, from offering hand sanitizer, gloves, and masks to cleaning and disinfecting regularly. Students and parents who don’t feel comfortable returning to in-person lessons continue to have the option of online lessons as well. We want you to return when you feel ready, and we’re committed to making sure you have an option to continue your lessons that makes you feel safe.

We’re actually in an even better position today than we were a year ago. Our enrollment rate is still very high, and we’re the No. 2 ranked music school in the country on Google. That’s all thanks to you, our wonderful students and parents, and our staff.

As we roll into summer, you may be looking forward to a much-needed trip away. We understand that your summer schedule may look different than it does during the school year, and we get a lot of questions about how to hold your spot and your teacher if you’re going to be away this summer. See the flyer inside to learn more about four options you have to do this! And check out our article on Page 3 about a brand-new option: video lessons.

I hope your summer is off to a great start. Ours certainly is, thanks to you!

Eric Nehring