As Stax Music Academy Turns 20, Memphis School Reimagines Curriculum for COVID

The Stax Music Academy isn’t participating in the debate about whether schools should open their classrooms and risk the further spreading of COVID-19. They’re going online, choosing to create solutions to the pandemic that broaden the Memphis academy’s offerings rather than curtail the usual curriculum.

When the doors open Aug. 17 at the music school, which quietly marked its 20th anniversary in June, the stay-at-home orders are leading to a new emphasis on recording and additional opportunities to teach songwriting.

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“Ninety percent of our focus has been on performance,” says executive director Pat Mitchell-Worley, noting the academy’s ensembles deliver more than 50 performances each year. “In the past, we have not been able to focus as much as we want on a studio work, the recorded performance.”

In February, they plan to do an online variety show that that can be streamed at any time and comes

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