In Queensland, we have recently moved to Stage 3 restrictions. Whilst social distancing is still in place, lessons and rehearsals have returned as an integral part of the school day.
Not that long ago, while my students were stuck (their term, not mine) at home dealing with online learning, I reflected upon how musical ensembles are in a very real sense, communities, and conductors their leaders.
I was forced to ponder the question: As a leader (conductor) of many communities (ensembles) how best can I respond to a COVID lockdown?
The answer was quite clear: Connection, Community and Engagement.
Firstly, lockdown erased personal connections. Here technology gave us a bridge. I found project-based lessons a workable replacement to face-to-face learning. These lessons utilised equipment from around the house, making students and parents innovate around the ‘how’ of learning.
Secondly, our community was scattered. As we all did, I found we could quickly spin a web of social media posts, online ensembles, personal videos, and emails to keep us all together. Going one step further, I scattered Easter eggs in lesson materials. Prizes were awarded – but you had to reach-out to your friends to win them.
Finally, engagement is sanitised when you are separated by screens. This was the hardest element to crack until I realised that communication is a strength of digital systems. Therefore, one simple message needed broadcasting: “This is just for now; we will get back together; we will return”.
I type these words and waves of COVID-19, first and second rage. I know many of my overseas and interstate colleagues now find themselves in dire situations. From my relative freedom, what words can I give?
Lead – Make music, one note, one person at a time.
AUTHOR – Gordon Hughes
Please note – keep up-to-date with COVID-19 restrictions and protocols in your region.