The synthesizer ensemble course, MUS 206, will be welcoming students back to campus for in-person rehearsals and performances in the Fall semester. (Photo by Cameron Enomoto)

By Cameron Enomoto | Staff Writer

With registration for the fall semester opening to all students later this week on Friday, April 8, there are many classes now offering in-person options after spending the last two years relegated to distance learning due to Covid. One of these classes is the synthesizer ensemble course, MUS 206.

The synthesizer ensemble course is meant for students who are interested in exploring both the solo and ensemble aspects of music performance and covers a variety of musical genres over a single semester.

Due to the unforeseen circumstances brought about by Covid, the course was forced to switch to an online-only platform in the past two years. While the class was originally hybrid, with both an in-person and online component, it was more than difficult to make the change to virtual rehearsals and recitals. 

“With Zoom, it was hard to make out what notes students were playing and how I could better assist them,” said Professor Anne Lum, the instructor for the MUS 206 course. “The sound quality is not ideal, especially with the latency effect which causes a student’s playing to be audible a few seconds after they actually play it.” 

The enrollment in the ensemble course was at an all-time low due to students being required to have their own keyboard or synthesizer readily available, according to the course description in STAR balance. Many of these instruments are expensive, regardless of whether it is bought second-hand or brand new. Prior to Covid, students were able to use the piano lab on campus in the Olonā building. 

In previous years, students were expected to have once-a-week synchronous meetings to rehearse and a separate portion of work was designated as the online component. The in-person meetings for the course were flexible based on the student’s and the instructor’s availability.

For the fall semester, the course will follow the same format and expectations. However, the location for the meetings is to be announced. Students will be exposed to classical, pop, jazz, new age, and contemporary music while focusing on the dichotomy of classical repertoire in combination with contemporary synthesized techniques. 

The online aspect requires students to have their own laptop and access to high-speed internet. It is also preferred if students have their own equipment, such as a personal headset with a quarter-inch adapter and a piano keyboard, though it is not required. By the end of the semester, students will have had at least 3 performance opportunities with at least 1 piano or keyboard solo.

Lum remains hopeful that more students will enroll in the course since in-person accommodations are being offered as well as flexible scheduling.

“I miss the rapport that usually develops easily in a face-to-face class environment,” said Lum. “I am excited to be teaching in person since I can cover twice as much in half as much time.”

The MUS 206 requires prerequisites for students who wish to join. Those who are interested must have completed the MUS 121 C course or an equivalent piano course and have the ability to read music in both treble and bass clef. Any questions about the course or material can be directed to Professor Anne Lum at her email,