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Alpha Anywhere Enables Music Students to Share Performances Despite COVID

Throughout the US, thousands of music students gather annually to perform in state-level Music Educators Association competitions. Typically, students meet regionally with adjudicators to compete and receive important feedback that helps them improve their performance skills. Due to COVID-19, it became clear that the 2021 Music Educators Association events could not safely operate in the same manner as years previous. The National Association for Music Educators provided guidance for maintaining standards amongst COVID-19 accommodations, but due to the variations in the state formats for adjudication of performances, they did not attempt to create a solution for everyone. Many states struggled to find safe methods for students to participate and still receive the highly valued assessments.

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Coming into the 2021 music season, the technology director of the Ohio Music Educators Association (OMEA), Greg Taylor, was very concerned about how they would meet this challenge safely and effectively.  He wanted to keep students and adjudicators safe, while still allowing the performances to take place. But this would be no easy task: in the state of Ohio alone, the Music Educators Association adjudicates approximately 30,000 performances.  Despite the enormity of this daunting task, he did not want to forfeit the opportunity for so many students. 

It soon became clear that this was an opportunity for Greg to provide a technical solution -- all he needed were the right tools. Fortunately, Greg already had those tools because he has been an Alpha Anywhere user for nearly 10 years. "We run our entire organization on Alpha Anywhere, including a publicly facing website, as well as a single-sign-on system that supports roles-based access to everything we do. Membership data, music lists, calendar, elections, session proposals and ensemble applications for our conference and much more," explained Greg. When the new challenges presented by COVID-19 began to emerge, his previous knowledge of Alpha's toolset had him well prepared.

However, he was still under tremendous pressure to get a stable system up and running for handling performances all across the state and he needed it fast. "Timing was the biggest challenge for me on this project. This entire school year has been about re-inventing processes that took decades to create and do it in a very short amount of time," said Greg.

It was a tall ask for a single in-house developer to handle. "I am the only developer for our organization, so, juggling all my normal responsibilities and adding the virtual development on top required a tremendous amount of time and effort." continued Greg. "Alpha Software was the ONLY tool in my opinion that would help me to accomplish all that I had to do."

His long relationship with Alpha left him confident that he could meet the challenges of the project, but he knew the sheer number of musicians using the system could present unexpected difficulties. "The videos collected on s3 for this project used approximately 8 TBs of bandwidth, so we are talking a LOT of data.", said Greg.
 
As it turned out, there were some students that attempted to upload videos that were overly large and made it challenging to upload and stream. Fortunately, Greg found some solutions, and it was in no small part due to Alpha Anywhere's ability to connect with other systems. "In the future, I will definitely include the Amazon Elastic Transcoder feature that will convert the videos upon upload," elaborated Greg.  
 
This is truly one of the great benefits of developing with a versatile, citizen development-friendly, low-code system like Alpha Anywhere. The hands-on development experience allows for timely and responsive adjustments in real-time. Had Greg discovered a problem or unexpected challenge, he could make alterations to the system and upload them in an instant. If he had left  development to an outsider, who knows what types of project bottlenecks would have put their mission in jeopardy. 
 
And with future health and safety concerns still a consideration, OMEA may not be done using this system, "There has also been discussion about having a virtual event in the fall to allow vocal and string students an extra opportunity at a time when band students are heavily involved in marching band.  The virtual event could serve as a “warm up” to the in-person event which is normally held after the first of the year." With an ever-changing social and education landscape, who knows what challenges may arise.
 
But Greg isn't really concerned about facing future challenges with Alpha Anywhere, "I absolutely love the responsiveness of the company to requests for new features and for solving issues when they arise.  The level of support is best in class."
 

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About Author

Scott Allen
Scott Allen

Scott Allen is the Senior Designer at Alpha Software. He's an enthusiastic communicator who has consistently demonstrated talent for creative vision and design, staff management and training, and sales and customer retention. Possessing harmonious skills in Client Interaction, Sales, Advertising, Graphics, and UX Design, Scott is a proven professional with a strong background that is enhanced by a wealth of business management experience and a Masters in Teaching from Marylhurst University.

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The Alpha platform is the only unified mobile and web app development and deployment environment with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” components. Using the Alpha TransForm no-code product, business users and developers can take full advantage of all the capabilities of the smartphone to turn any form into a mobile app in minutes, and power users can add advanced app functionality with Alpha TransForm's built-in programming language. IT developers can use the Alpha Anywhere low-code environment to develop complex web or mobile business apps from scratch, integrate data with existing systems of record and workflows (including data collected via Alpha TransForm), and add additional security or authentication requirements to protect corporate data.

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