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Frequently Asked Questions

How does online learning through the Institute work?

The Sacred Music Institute of America has been offering online course content for three years and was already pioneering this approach prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Our group courses involve a combination of pre-recorded lectures and real-time communication with the instructors through Zoom and email.  When it comes to private lessons, we recognize that each student has an individualized learning style and each instructor has developed a variety of techniques for working with online learners to best meet their needs.  Some student-faculty pairs find live sessions over Zoom or Facetime to be most effective, while others have the students submit recordings of their weekly assigned pieces and then discuss them over Zoom.  For some students who live within several hours’ drive of our faculty, a hybrid approach involving occasional in-person lessons has proved effective.

Are online voice/organ/conducting lessons effective?

Yes!  In fact, some students find that they have made more progress through online study than they did while taking in-person lessons.  Students have the opportunity to record their lessons through Zoom and may review them as often as they wish between sessions.  Many students who provide recordings of their assigned pieces to their instructors each week find that they practice more and are able to correct more errors because they are recording themselves.  Online students have the opportunity to transcend the limitations of physical distance to work with highly qualified and experienced instructors who may not live within practical commuting distance of their homes.

How long does it take to become certified through SMIA?

Our certification programs are structured to be completed in two years (including summer courses).  However, some students may require additional semesters of private lessons to prepare for their certification exams or simply prefer to work at a slower pace.

 How long are the classes?

Group classes are ten weeks in length.  Each week, students receive a lecture of approximately one hour in length and many classes also include online interaction between students and faculty including discussion groups, practice with sight singing, etc.  Students registered for private lessons receive 15 50-minute lessons in the fall and spring semesters and ten 50-minute lessons during the summer semester.

What technology requirements are needed?

Students must have internet access and an email address.  For private lessons, a webcam or phone camera is necessary.  Many classes use Zoom, YouTube, and Google Drive links to disseminate course information.  Not all of our students are technological wizards and we're happy to help guide you through the use of any unfamiliar components.  Organ students should have access to an instrument upon which to practice—beginning organ students may start with a keyboard or piano if necessary.

How do students get access to the lectures?

Group course lectures are emailed to enrolled students weekly as private video links.  Students retain access to all lectures for the duration of the course.

Are the lectures live or recorded?

The course lectures themselves are pre-recorded, allowing students the flexibility to watch them at a convenient time.  However, most of the courses also offer live components, such as discussions, study groups, and online singing sessions.

How do students receive homework assignments and how much time should be allotted?

Group course assignments are emailed to enrolled students on a weekly basis, typically on Monday mornings, at the same time as that week’s lecture link.  The quantity of coursework varies depending on the subject, but students may expect to spend 1-3 hours per week completing reading, listening, and/or written assignments.


How long do students have access to the class material?

Students will have access to all the lectures from their course for one year following registration.  They can also choose to save course handouts and assignments to create a permanent resource.

Additional questions?  Chat with us online or email for more information.

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