Teaching Music in the Midst of Global Pandemic

This global pandemic may not be violence by war or bloodshed, but it is a violent change to all of our lives and all of our students lives and it includes a violent amount of panicky news stories in the media.

Our students need something beautiful.

While we are stressing out about upcoming performances, evaluations, auditions, and concerts for our students, they really just need something beautiful and more normal.

Like the students of many of my colleagues (more every minute!), my students will not be at school this coming week as they were scheduled to be. The terms “distance” and “online” learning are popping up everywhere.

I have always promoted the idea that online learning really puts a students education into their own hands. Here’s the test of that idea.

This situation is not one in which to move everything online – this is a disaster situation. We will all have students who participate online and those that will not (for ANY!) number of reasons.

As I begin to creatively navigate through these waters, my questions move away from “how do I rehearse my ensemble” and “how do I teach the chromatic scale” towards questions like “how can I give my students some beautiful musical opportunities” and “how can I help my students escape this disaster for a few minutes”.

Some of my students can not access online resources at home, so a grade requirement is unreasonable. Some of my students didn’t take their instrument home over spring break because they forgot, or were sick before the break, or…just didn’t. Others are not self motivated. But you know what? Some of all of our students are self motivated, and some students just need the right motivation.

Here’s some preliminary thoughts on a distance-learning, disaster-situation. I would love to see your thoughts in the comments for myself and the good of all of our colleagues!

  • YouTube playlist of beautiful instrument sounds and/or pieces they are preparing.
  • Music creation opportunities – Chrome Music Lab and Learning Synths with Abelton are two FUN musical activities!
  • Music notation software – Noteflight is free and online and MuseScore is a free download!
  • Music theory brush up – use musictheory.net to create a custom exercise or use an interactive whiteboard (Explain Everything is my fave!) to do your own quick lesson. OR do a quick screencast on your computer with a PowerPoint or musictheory.net
  • Take advantage of any of the many online music education resources offering free access right now (SmartMusic, Music First, Sight Reading Factory are a few that I have seen recently, but there are more!)
  • Do you have a LMS set up already (like Google classroom or blackboard or anything else)? Add some recording assignments and offer feedback! I would not assign grades to these – just an opportunity to make music and receive feedback.

I want to stress that this is a situation where we must make the best of it. Nobody plans for this to happen on purpose – this is not normal and will not feel as such! (But it can have some elements of normalcy for the sake of our students, of course!)

Give your students the opportunity for something beautiful. They feel the disaster like we do, but through different eyes. They see it through their parents stress and their lack of friend time at lunch, but aren’t as worried about their UIL Evaluation music. When given opportunities, many will take them and that’s all we can hope for.

If you would like to brainstorm some educational distance learning, drop a comment or send me a message! We can support each other in this uncertain, changing-hourly time!

Be well ❤️

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