Stay-at-Home Diaries | Stephen Cook, Piano Department Chair

On Thursday March, 19, Los Angeles residents were asked to stay in their residences and limit all activities outside of their homes beyond what is necessary for essential tasks. Days later, PCM adapted its lessons and programs and launched a “distance learning” spring quarter.

For this series, we’re checking in with students, instructors, and staff members to see how they’re managing and how distance learning (and teaching) is working for them.

PCM: Where are you right now and who are you with?
I am in my music studio in my home in Altadena; I’m with my husband, Larry.

PCM: How are you feeling and how have you adjusted to life at home?
I feel good, and we are fortunate to have a large number of house projects that needed completion (we just moved in to a new house and neighborhood one year ago). I’ve been enjoying cooking (which I think most everyone has), gardening and yard work, and exploring this new part of the city.

PCM: What does a typical day look like for you right now?
SC: In addition to my teaching at PCM, I am also Dean of Arts at California School of the Arts – San Gabriel Valley. I typically am attending meetings via Zoom from 9:00-12:00, then working on administrative items until mid-afternoon. I coordinate our ten arts conservatories as well as assist the Principal and academic team in planning assessment, grading policy, course creation, school culture and enrichment, etc. I then teach virtually from mid-afternoon until early evening several days each week.

PCM: In what ways (large and small) has the current situation impacted your studio/music educating experience?
SC: It has been an interesting experience, to say the least! It has opened my eyes to the possibility of utilizing technology more in my studio (particularly for things like virtual makeup lessons or group projects), but has also shown me the value and importance of person-to-person connectedness, not only in teaching but in life in general. I feel as if, after all of the stay at home orders have expired, as a culture we may be more inclined to move away from technology and focus more on social interaction and family.

PCM: What are you most looking forward to when everyone returns to campus? What, if anything, will you miss?
SC: I am most looking forward to seeing all of my students and how much they’ve grown, as well as connecting again with all of my colleagues at the conservatory.