As a non-formal educator and parent, sometimes I worry about things that do not directly concern me. For example, many years ago, our oldest son was very much involved in the music programs at our high school. He played several instruments including several types of saxophone, clarinet, bassoon, and piano. His private piano lessons started in grade three and ended in grade eleven. While he was never in the choir, he was in the marching band (part of our music offerings in the fall), show band, and jazz band.
He came by this honestly, too! And, that is why I am concerned. I was also a band kid, playing flute and piccolo in the symphonic band (akin to today’s wind ensemble), marching band, and fireman’s band. I know the love and dedication that goes into being part of one of these groups. If music is part of your life, it will always have a place in your heart and well-being.
I also know that there is a lot of air being pushed around while playing – especially as part of a large ensemble. As we consider the current state of the country and our local schools are developing their plans for fall, I wonder about band and choir. Will they be held? Marching Band is outside – for the most part. But, instrumental lessons and indoor practices for any group playing wind instruments or actually any instrument with perhaps the exception of percussion, which includes piano, should be curtailed. Shouldn’t they? Truly, I hope not for both the sake of the students who play the instruments and the music teachers who lead, mentor, instruct, and demonstrate for them. Both groups love what they do. I know that this is the case.
So, I ask – what about band and choir? What about activities that involve a whole group of student participants coming together to produce beautiful sounds that are essential to one’s well being? Sure, a semester of music theory would not hurt anyone. And, the practice of one’s instrument(s) at home should continue as always. But, group practice? Lessons in school? Surely, everyone realizes that no one can play an instrument with a mask on their face!
Born of my concern, I’ve long been a student advocate, actively working to provide enrichment experiences through groups like writer’s circle, garden club, book club, and math meets nature questions. These are all small gatherings of students I developed to encourage the love of learning in our student population. But, music? Unfortunately, I cannot help with this.
I can only hope there is some way that students can continue to sing, play, and produce the music they’ve come rely on being able to do in school settings. While I have not heard anything about this, it is something I’ve worried about. For I know there are others, like my son, who without their music would be missing a large part of their life.
What are your thoughts about musical groups in schools during the pandemic? Has this subject matter been addressed by the restarting guidelines? I hope so.