I’d like to share an uplifting collection of lessons that K-12 music educators have experienced during this tumultuous year, proving that even in chaos, the power and reach of music prevail!
Mister Rogers was way ahead of us. He understood how to teach young people effectively and virtually — something we were forced to tackle in 2020. But remote teaching has its upsides. Teachers can better gauge students’ understanding of concepts because each student is seen in an equal space. Paradoxically, virtual teaching makes conversations more personal. The chat function engages more students because they often answer each other’s questions. And students who don’t like to speak up can enter a “safe zone” and directly “talk” to the teacher.
Technology transcends geography, creating opportunities for educators to attend more conferences. With time and cost savings — as well as the ability to listen to all the sessions rather than choosing from the ones offered during the same time slots — comprehensive professional development is more within reach. In addition, music educators are creating a huge online community, sharing ideas and materials. The overall quality of music education will be positively impacted in the long term, and best practices will survive the pandemic.
More guest artists can be brought into the classroom through virtual means, so students gain access to an increased number of experts. At one Nevada high school, the band students have been treated to guest speakers every week since distance learning began. That could never be accomplished via in-person teaching.
Some students have discovered that their creativity goes beyond playing music. Composing, arranging and creating videos have allowed students to enhance traditional music-making activities by finding their own voices.
Student leaders are rising to the occasion more than ever before. A choral director reported that her student leaders are “running our breakout room sectionals, creating remote spirit days, helping to produce our virtual performances, spreading positivity by weekly check-ins with their sections and setting the most positive examples for their peers.”