You will be receiving your Cadenza in the mail next month. My article may seem out of place due to the harsh reality that we are not in our classrooms with our students. When I submitted that article in February, little did I know that the world would be turned upside down. It all seems so surreal.
Just like you, I have been doing lots of new learning. I have added the following words to my professional lingo: virtual classroom, social distancing, zoom call, google hangout, remote learning, google meets, pandemic, self-quarantine, stay at home. (I can almost hear a speech piece in my head.) And that brings me to the point of reaching out to you with this newsletter. You may be feeling alone in this health crisis that has forced us to teach music online. I keep asking myself, how I am going to make active and engaging music lessons without the personal and interactive connection with the students? How am I going to see their smiles, embrace their energy, and stimulate their creative minds? How am I supposed to use those teachable moments through a computer screen? The answer I keep coming up with is, I don’t know. I don’t know how to re-create the magic moments that spontaneously happen in the music classroom. I don’t know how to re-create small groupwork when children have no groups to work with while inside their homes. I do know that we will figure this out together!
As you navigate through this new method of teaching, please be patient with yourself. Give yourself grace and permission to not know all the answers. There will not be a right or a wrong way, but you will find the way that works best for you to forage ahead with your students on this new learning adventure. The good news is that most of our kids already live and breathe in the digital world. My 7th grade son has been helping me set up my Google Classroom, and my 4th grade daughter Zoom calls with her teacher every day. I am not saying this digital teaching mindset and culture change is going to be easy. Change is hard. But our students can do this, and so can we.
Let’s stay connected. Let’s share lesson plan ideas. Let’s help those around us who are challenged with technology and are feeling stressed and afraid (like me). Here are some ways we can reach out to one another:
- MGMTA Facebook page
- MGMTA Listserv: Abby Nyhof has done an amazing job of setting this up and has already sent us an email encouraging people to generate ideas about online music lessons. If you did not get this email, please email Abby. (Thank you, Abby.) You can also join the listserv here (you will need to be logged in to mgmta.org to join the listserv).
- MGMTA.org: And wouldn’t this be a perfect time to write a blog post with your fabulous digital lesson ideas?
- Check out the links and upcoming events for next year on the Treasure State Orff website.
- Meg Tietz has created a wonderful Facebook page called The Singing Space. (She is an upcoming MGMTA headline clinician scheduled for the MMEA Convention in 2021.) Here is the description from Meg: “This space is meant as a collection space for songs sung for children by music educators. It is simply designed as a safe space for children to listen and sing and be.” If you want to contribute to this page, please join the group on Facebook and read the guidelines for posting a song.
- Emily Arrow is another lovely resource. I met her at The University of Kentucky at an Orff course. She was a general music teacher in Los Angeles before she went on a different path. (Read a portion of her bio below.) She has an amazing You Tube channel. Check her out! (I am not promoting any materials, just listing her as a resource for children.)
Emily Arrow is an award-winning children’s songwriter with 10+ years of experience working with children in music education. An official Kala Brand Music Co. artist, picture book author, and popular YouTube personality, Emily and her ukulele Bow foster a love for literacy and music.
You probably already received this email, but here are some other resources from NAfME. This will link you to lots of webinars that happened, or are coming up. Here is the list:
- March 26, 8:30 PM ET: Music Education and SEL during COVID-19 with Scott Edgar
- March 27, 3:45 PM ET: Online Teaching . . . Where Do I Even Start?! with Anne Fennell
- March 30, 4:00 PM ET: Online Learning and Copyright for Music Educators with John Mlynczak
- March 31, 12:00 PM ET: Strategies for Thriving as a Music Teacher during Uncertain Times with Lesley Moffat, Dana Varona, & Christa Kuebel
These are just a few ideas for some additional support. I am sure you have other resources. Please share them. We are in this together and now is the time to connect.
Most importantly, don’t forget to take care of yourself and your family. The rest will fall into place, eventually, someday, somehow, after this seemingly endless amount of time passes as we stay at home. Spring will come, the flowers will bloom, and we will all make music with our students again in a safe and creative space.
Stay connected. Stay healthy. Stay happy.