For such a time as this

The photo in this post is the studio deadline whiteboard from March to the end of the season. Today I completed my very last task of this season – reviewing a student’s performance exam video submission. I am also right in the middle of planning the upcoming season. This is the time when I reflect, evaluate, and plan. But who knew we needed to plan for a pandemic?!

In mid-March I made the decision that the entire studio would move to online lessons after our March Break. I already own a lot of sound and tech gear so when I took inventory I found that I only needed to order a cable and a phone mount, which I quickly did to avoid the shortages and delays that are now to be expected. My varied collection of musical experiences meant I was up for the challenge of pivoting my entire business in four days with less than a week’s notice. Once the decision was made I spent my break researching, learning, practising, and troubleshooting. Lessons were up and running without interruption on the first Monday back. My students and parents navigated the changeover like superstars. Behind the scenes my work load increased to 10-12 hours per day, six days a week. But I think it was worth it, because here’s what happened next:

  • We all stayed safe.
  • We met every single deadline on the white board, even with multiple changes to schedules and procedures.
  • My students became more independent musicians.
  • Many students had accelerated progress and moved up a level sooner than planned.
  • I was able to see everyone’s instrument and practice space – allowing me to check instrument, bench height, posture, lighting, etc.
  • Parents were able to easily check in for a quick progress update by jumping on camera at the beginning of a lesson.
  • We all learned how to use technology to complement live lessons, trading audio and video files between lessons for further feedback.
  • I became a better teacher.

And the purple magnet is more apropos than ever. It is from a 1970s FedEx advertising campaign that used the slogan “Don’t Panic! Call FedEx.” It’s an amusing reminder for my students to meet their deadlines with action steps and planning, not panic.

Today I erased the white board. Tomorrow is a fresh start!

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