Throughout the pandemic’s eerie silence, All-Steinway Valley Christian High School in California echoed the plight of music schools blindsided by a national shutdown. They got by with a little help from a friend at Steinway.

A few event postponements in San Jose snowballed into cancellations for dozens of student recitals and performances at the Conservatory of the Arts. “Looking back, it almost seems silly that we could not grasp the enormity of the pandemic and its impact on learning,” said Troy Gunter, conservatory vice president/director. “We had students who honestly could not muster the energy to get out of bed in the morning to attend virtual classes. But we also had students bursting with creative ideas, excited to share their musical creations with friends and family through social media.”

Valley Christian High School


The toll on students, teachers, and administrators was immeasurable. But sequestered artists proved resilient, taking the lead in reaching out to their broken communities with living-room concerts.

While faculty and students eventually returned to campus, the new Steinway Spirio | r that sat untouched for months assumed a pivotal role in Valley Christian’s emergence from the government-mandated shelter-in-place.

Home performances kept music and hope alive. But when the novelty of Brady-Bunch-styled virtual choirs began to wear thin, Valley Christian elevated its game. Gunter tapped into the exceptional recording capabilities of Spirio | r that allowed students to create the highest-quality productions.

Student Jeston Lu and Troy Gunter
Jeston Lu, Class of 2022, performs Etude Op. 42 Number 5 in C# Minor by Scriabin. 

In the fall of 2020, his crew transported the high-tech Steinway to a cattle ranch near Silicon Valley and placed it amidst a grove of sycamores. “Through the magic of Spirio | r, we successfully captured every nuance of our student performances,” he said, adding there were no worries about passing cars or occasional screeches of magpies from the trees that would sabotage the project.

“Thanksgiving with the Conservatory Fellows,” featuring high school pianists and a few alums, had no live audience, but the Spirio | r “showcased our students uniquely and creatively,” he said.

Through the magic of Spirio | r, we successfully  captured every nuance of our student performances.


The back-to-nature setting was so inspirational that Valley Christian produced more Spirio | r virtual concerts in some of the most scenic regions around the Greater San Francisco Bay.

Students made the most of their chance to employ the editing tools of Spirio | r software. “There is inherent value in recording performances and critiquing playbacks. But when a student opens the iPad app and views a visual representation – that takes learning to a whole new level,” Gunter said. “Seeing keystroke intensity, note lengths, tempo fluctuations, pedal technique, and other variables opens a new world for students and teachers.”

“We have only begun to scratch the surface of educational opportunities offered by Steinway and Spirio | r,” he said.

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