A friend who has been the most faithful participant in my local workshops—almost
every one in the past 30 years!—just announced she is retiring. Another victim of the pandemic, weary of trying to make things not meant for screens work on those little gridded squares. Or when finally back with kids, wiping down mallets (even when we know that’s not how the virus spreads) and the strict injunction against singing. Why bother?
The word from my teacher friends is that everybody— the kids, the parents, themselves—are so over online school. They’re fed up. And even when kids are back as school, masked, distanced and songless, it’s still not so wonderful—especially if you’re a music teacher!
In some ways, we got what we wanted. “Be careful what you wish for” and all those who declared school obsolete once all information could be instantly gathered with a click to the Web, who imagined their kids becoming fast friends with folks in Uganda, Uruguay and United Kingdom in some fantasy of the electronic global village, all those who were happy to have their kids raised by appliances and schooled by a perpetual Sesame Street edu-tainment— have they finally figured out what really counts in this world? Hopefully, the pandemic has taught us that it's kind of important to actually be physically together in a room and work with something called our bodies and value something called singing and appreciate something called social interaction after bonding with just machines.
We are resilient creatures and while one can be rightfully concerned about kids—and adults—losing a year of learning how to be friends, remembering how to sing, working as a team with others in sports or music, I think we can bounce back. And hopefully with renewed appreciation for the value to these things we took for granted. Put the screens away for a while or at least, use them less.
Having written this, I’m off to teach a 3-hour online music workshop (seriously!) to teachers in Italy. But believe me, I’d rather be there!