Archive for October, 2020

Music for Families: An Interview with main instructor, Ivory Doublette

For Our Youngest Music Learners –Virtual Learning Has Its Perks

Benny Moreno, photographer and social media manager for Walker|West had a change to catch up with Ivory about what’s new with our Music For Families program as we look forward to 2021.

Enrollment is way up for the virtual Early Childhood program, why do you think this is the case?

“I was so shocked to see how quickly classes filled up this time! I think many families are searching for a way to keep some routine and predictability in their lives and the lives of their children. I also think having the option of not commuting for extracurriculars during MN winters is also a bonus!”

What is the importance of music/music education in these times?

“Music and music education is so important all the time. Even when we are not in a pandemic! Music supports brain development in young children. Music can help with identifying and regulating emotions and music creates new opportunities to bond with our family.”

How are the online classes going? How have you had to adapt your teaching style?

“Classes are going really well. We are learning that even during a pandemic life can still be so busy. Being able to have access to YouTube versions of class as well as Zoom sessions helps keep families engaged in a way that works for them. Technology hasn’t been too bad either! There are definitely changes I have to make after each lesson.

If I realize a song or activity is well received over Zoom I make plans to keep it in our lineup! If there is something that doesn’t go over well, (sometimes our books/stories are not helpful to our Zoom class) I make plans to try something new! Just like in person classes I want to encourage flexibility and for the students to lead while the grownups follow! ”

Any memorable moments?

“Whenever we are ending class and my students or their families don’t want it to end I think we are creating memorable moments, moments we want to hold on to! ”


Our early childhood program, in partnership with McPhail is currently enrolling. Tuition assistance is available. Learn more and register your student today:

Artist As Activist, Healer, Witness

“Music can heal the wounds which medicine cannot touch.”

– Debasish Mridha

Artist As Activist, Healer, Witness

Sherine Onukwuwe

Most of my summer days enduring the COVID-19 pandemic were spent indulging in music. Music got me through.

My daughter in the yard with me on the porch sanding, staining, or painting some unfinished, up-cycled furniture project of mine. All-the-while sipping on ginger beer and listening to Alice Coltrane on my half-working, very sometime-y, bluetooth speaker. Waving occasionally to a neighbor or two and keeping keen eye on the dog walkers to ensure they guide their furry pals toward the boulevard rather than the yard proper. The 25th of May wasn’t much different, just finding a way forward in our new normal.

Unbeknownst to me, just 9.9 miles away from my stoop of secured serenity, Mr. George Perry Floyd Jr. would walk into a convenience store in South Minneapolis, where a store clerk would allege that he intentionally tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. The police were called, Floyd was handcuffed and pinned to the asphalt by his neck, expiring under the weight of officer Derek Chauvin’s knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. His last breath would come in less time than it takes to listen to Miles Davis’ 1959 Columbia Records recording of, “So What”.

After the video captured by a young woman, who witnessed the murder went viral, the Twin Cities was ablaze with protests for justice. Igniting a dormant rage over the many straws that lay upon the camel’s back. Many cities throughout the country would join while grappling with the unjust murders of their own George Floyds at the hands of police. As an artist, I began to think about what the soundtrack of this moment would sound like. I thought back to the days on my porch in summer. I remembered the ginger beer, and the music that made my porch a healing, restorative space. How could we as artists witness this moment, how could we speak to the pain, the frustration and normalcy of police brutality on Black Bodies and Black Lives?

In the wake of this unrest, local artists began responding with ink, paint, sculpture, and music. One artist in particular created a multimedia video meditation inspired by the tragedy that took place on Memorial Day. World renowned violinist and Co-Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota, Ariana Kim premiered her, “How Many Breaths?- In Memory of George Floyd and Countless Others,” here at Walker|West Music Academy virtually. This piece featured original music, spoken word, images and video of moving street art and demonstration footage from the Twin Cities.

Collaborators Lou Bellamy and Sara Bellamy of Penumbra Center for Racial Healing, Composer Steve Heitzeg along with over 300 audience members dove into a discussion about injustice and harnessing pain and healing through the expression of music. I was the moderator for that discussion as a part of my new role here at Walker|West. One thing that came out of the dialogue with Ariana was the suggestion to take her performance piece to the ground level of location murals. Specifically visiting the mural in George Floyd Square marking where George Floyd took his last breath to fully experience the weight of what occurred.

As the country and world continue to confront problematic systemic racism, the soundtrack must continue to be recreated moving us to feel, to think, to engage, to act, and above all not to be silenced.

View the emotive piece original piece, “How Many Breaths?…” by Ariana Kim here:

COVID 19 Updates: Walker|West Partial Re-Opening Plan 2021


January Update

January Update:

We will do a partial re-opening for Session 3, beginning February 8, 2021, using our re-opening plan guidelines (see plan below). We are still prioritizing virtual lessons for the health and safety of all students, staff and the greater community, and are not planning on a full re-opening of the space at this time. Access to the building and in-person lessons will be limited.

As with our previous partial re-opening, we will continue to monitor the status of the COVID-19 virus, and adjust our plan as needed.

Please contact us with any questions you may have:

Previous Updates

December Update: December 17, 2020

Walker|West will continue with virtual lessons only for now and into the new year. We will re-assess sometime in February 2021 based on the existing plan and any changes (positive or negative) about the COVID-19 virus and pandemic.

November Update: Walker|West To Return to Virtual Lessons Only on 11/16.

In accordance with our partial re-opening safety protocols and due to a statewide increase of COVID-19 cases, our Re-Opening Team has decided to return to virtual lessons only, effective Monday November 16, 2020. While virtual lessons have continued and increased during the time of the global pandemic, we recently tried a selective partial reopening which began last month on October 12, 2020.

Since the partial re-opening, to our knowledge, no one in the Walker|West community who have been in the facility, have contracted COVID-19, or been in close contact with a person/s who have COVID-19. However, the safety of students, families, faculty, and staff is our highest priority and thus this decision comes in response to external changes with the pandemic as cases have spiked in Minnesota. In addition to this Governor Walz recently announced renewed restrictions for Minnesotans to flatten the curve and lessen the spread of COVID-19.

As such, Walker|West will not have in-person individual, group, or ensemble lessons for tuition-based programming beginning on Monday. We will plan to provide updates on or around December 17, 2020. Though we need to make this choice for safety reasons, our commitment to music education won’t stop. Virtual lessons will continue to be available, and many sessions are accepting new or returning students now.

[See November 2020 Update]

Information for our partial re-opening which began Monday October 12, 2020.

Here at Walker|West community is a key component of our mission.

Earlier this year we made the decision to shut down normal operations, moving to virtual programming because of the MN Stay-At-Home Order in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. In the time since, we’ve had success with our virtual programming, from students joining us from across the country for music instruction to our music series reaching people all over the world.

Our staff and faculty have been listening, adapting, and innovating to creatively address how the Walker|West community explores music together. Virtual instruction will continue, and remains a priority for everyone’s safety.

We learned through feedback from a number of our parents and families that access to in-person, safely-distanced lessons would prove a better accommodation for their music learners. For this reason a small group of faculty and students have re-started with in-person lessons, for phase one. We also are using this partial re-opening to demonstrate a level of operations for in-person programming for the ‘new’ normal we’re living through. Doing so with the safety of our community being top-of-mind.

To be clear the current plan applies for the scenario we are now in with the pandemic. This detailed plan is still subject to review and modification if there are adverse changes with the COVID-19 virus over the next few months.

Walker|West faculty, staff, board members, families and other key stakeholders were consulted in the creation of this plan. Below are some of the highlights.

Plan Development

Visiting The Site

  • Walker|West staff and students/families are required to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • NO staff, students, or visitors will be allowed to enter Walker|West if experiencing symptoms or have contracted COVID-19.
  • Visitors (e.g., non-enrolled students and families) must enter Walker|West by appointment only.
  • Student pick-up and drop-off should occur outside the building.
  • Parents or guardians are requested to remain outside unless specifically entering the facility to submit payment for student lessons.

Staff/Faculty Leave

  • Walker|West has implemented leave policies that promote faculty and staff staying at home when they are sick, when household members are sick, or when required by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine themselves or a member of their household.
  • Walker|West will discretely contact any faculty or staff who have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, and require that faculty or staff member to quarantine for the required amount of time.

Social distancing / Face Coverings

  • Social distancing of at least six feet must be maintained between all individuals at Walker|West.
  • No more than 10 individuals together in any room
  • In-person instruction must only occur in larger spaces designated for this use
  • Staff are granted the option to work-from-home to reduce the number of staff members on site each day
  • All faculty, staff, students and visitors are required to wear face-coverings unless:
    • Working alone from an office or studio with the door closed
    • Incapable of wearing face covering due to medical condition
    • Brass and woodwind players must wear masks with slits at the mouth to fit mouthpieces for playing their instruments. When not playing an instrument, players must wear a well-fitted mask.
    • Brass and woodwind players must use bell covers lined with MERV 13 material.

Building Ventilation

  • Walker|West’s building manager has contracted with Faircon Service Company to install GPS (Global Plasma Solutions, Inc.) Needle Point Bipolar Ionization (NPBI) in the building’s three HVAC rooftop units.
    • NPBI units inactivate viruses, and kill bacteria/molds that are aerosolized and surface borne. Based on third-party testing, GPS ionization units with a MERV8 (minimum efficiency reporting value) filter achieve the efficiency of a MERV13 filter.


  • Work surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected regularly. A daily routine schedule has also been implemented for general cleaning and disinfecting of rooms.
  • High-touch areas, including phones, keyboards, touch screens, controls, door handles, railings, copy machines, etc. will be disinfected periodically throughout the day when Walker|West facilities are in use.
  • Cleaning services and products will be provided by CINTAS.
  • Walker|West faculty or staff will clean and disinfect equipment and specified musical instruments after each occurrence of in-person instruction.

Plan Implementation and Monitoring

  • The COVID-19 Preparedness plan for faculty and staff has been distributed to faculty who must come to the facility for in-person instruction and other related tasks.
  • All Faculty and staff will receive the plan via email and review it during an upcoming faculty and staff meeting.
  • Students and Families who come to the facility for in-person instruction will receive the “COVID-19 Guidance for Students and Families”.
  • Management and staff will monitor the effectiveness and impact of the implementation.
  • Management and staff will regularly check with faculty to ensure the preparedness plan guidelines are understood and followed.

To request a full version of the plan or for questions please contact our admin/student services email: