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Outdoor music classes a high note for ASU students, faculty alike

Cooler weather means more opportunities for Sun Devils to take their learning outside

November 03, 2020

Editor’s note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now’s year in review. Read more top stories from 2020.

Arizona State University is entering that golden time of year when the desert at last turns its back on a relentless summer, and months of excellent weather stretch ahead.

And with the risk of coronavirus transmission lowerRisk is lowered but not eliminated. Wear face coverings in all of ASU's outdoor spaces and practice physical distancing. outdoors than inside, some professors are finding ASU's beautiful outdoor spaces a great option.

"I moved my class outside because the weather is beautiful," said Associate Professor Brian DeMaris, who has held his opera repertoire class outside the Music Building. "And all my colleagues at other institutions are going inside or going home."

Watch below how DeMaris' and other Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts performance classes took to the fresh air to reconnect. (And yes, those are trumpet masks.)

Video by Deanna Dent and Joshua Belveal/ASU

To make it easier for more of the ASU community enjoy its outdoor spaces, the university added 272 tables, 1,088 chairs and 113 benches across its four Valley campuses during the fall 2020 semester.

And in Tempe, there are four new "outdoor rooms" — shade structures with seating, power, lighting and Wi-Fi. They are located west of the Memorial Union, where Interdisciplinary A and B meet; southeast of Schwada Classroom Office Building; west of Mesquite Hall; and on Palm Walk, next to the Bateman Physical Sciences Center. Starting in the spring semester, professors will be able to reserve them.

“Whether it’s a study session on the library’s patio or a class in one of our new Wi-Fi-equipped outdoor rooms, ASU’s welcoming outdoor spaces allow professors and students to reconnect in person while reducing COVID-19 risk,” said Mark Searle, executive vice president and university provost. “We’re encouraging faculty to find creative ways to utilize all of ASU’s spaces in their classwork. Let’s enjoy our beautiful campuses.”

ASU faculty, are you taking your classes outdoors? Please contact the ASU Now team at and let us know about your plans.

Top photo: Second-year opera performance graduate student Michael Nanney practices "Ah! Mes Amis" by Gaetano Donizetti as more than half the 12 members of Associate Professor Brian DeMaris’ opera repertoire class meet Oct. 22 to practice outside the Music Building on the Tempe campus. The rest of the class participated through ASU Sync on Zoom. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

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