GREAT BEND—Barton Community College held its first-ever "Summer Virtual Student Recital" last Friday featuring students who took advantage of the brand-new summer lessons program.

Summer lessons have not been offered in the past, but in light of the coronavirus pandemic Barton Music Department administrators and faculty wanted to give music enthusiasts and Barton students the opportunity to take lessons on the instrument of their choice.

"With our city band canceled and no other venue to perform or play an instrument this gave our community an opportunity to still enjoy their summer by learning something new and exciting," said Barton’s Director of Instrumental Music Dr. Luis Palacios. "Many of the students taking lessons were eager to find an outlet to express themselves and communicate with new people."

Palacios and percussion instructor Grant Mathews organized the college’s first fully virtual recital. Dr. Palacios said he is always looking for ways to help people enhance their lives through music.

"It was wonderful working with students from all walks of life. We had several community members learning an instrument for the first time, as well as freshmen and sophomores from Barton," Palacios said. "Barton is about innovation and we were seeking ways to have a performance amidst COVID-19. This virtual recital gave students the ability to experience performing for each other and engage in a positive way with their fellow artists."

The list of performers included Barton percussion instructor Grant Mathews’s student Logan Hammeke on drums and Director of Instrumental Music Dr. Luis Palacios’ students Carol Beck on flute, ReGina Reynolds-Casper on flute, Robert Brining on saxophone, Ted Brown on saxophone, Brook Degenhardt on trombone, Andre Maier on trombone, Hery Rakotoarisoa on saxophone, Josie Riddle on French horn, Corrie Upson on clarinet and Faith Whited on saxophone.

"It was great to have something fun to do over the summer while still being at home most of the time," said virtual summer music student Faith Whited. "The recital was especially fun. It’s neat that we were able to still perform even though I was living hours away from Barton."

Student Corrie Upson said this is the first time she had ever done something like take virtual lessons.

"I really enjoyed the recital and being able to take lessons from the safety of my house," she said.

Student Robert Brining said he still enjoyed taking lessons in person better, but he was in favor of the idea to continue music from anywhere.

"I was surprised how much I could learn even through a computer screen," Brining said.

Palacios said virtual and in-person lessons will be available as school starts again for the fall semester, with all lessons running August 12 – November 24.

"Anyone can enroll in the classes regardless of whether they are a student or not. They would enroll through Barton Community College," he said.

Students must pay for 1 credit hour, as the lessons are through the college, but senior citizens are eligible for a discount and some scholarships are available for middle school and high school students.

For more information, contact Dr. Palacios at (620) 792-9396 or