As the crushing reality of Covid-19 settles in, I can’t help but be excited, and you, my music educator friends, should be too. After all, we’ve been training for this since the moment we first picked up an instrument, sang our first note, learned our first song. We were placed here and now exactly for such a time as this.
Let me explain.
Two Fridays ago, on March 13th, I had a feeling I would not be seeing my students again for a long while. On March 8th, Italy had declared a national lockdown and the World Health Organization had declared on March 11th that Covid-19 was officially a pandemic.
So, I kept things normal at the middle school. The kids played their instruments, working on solos and music for the concert, and my student teacher and I ran things like normal. When we got to the high school, I let the band kids chill and talk while I got some purchase orders finished up since the deadline for turning those suckers in was that same day. Can’t lose dat money, yo.
Anyway, at the end of all of my classes, middle and high, I had the kids huddle up before we dismissed.
At the time, the teachers were all going to meet on Monday to decide how we were going to do distance learning (we didn’t end up having that meeting, unfortunately… ). But I already knew what I wanted them to do.
I told them that now was the time that they needed to step up and be musicians.
We talked about what it was to have a gift. Making music… that’s our gift. How many adults have we met in our lives that have expressed regret for not learning an instrument, or not sticking with lessons, or knowing that they couldn’t sing their way out of a paper bag while appreciating the fact that their kid could?
I told my kids that they have the very well-being of our society on their shoulders (… well, I wasn’t that heavy with the middle school kids, but the high school kids? shyeah… they can handle it. Have you seen their Instagram accounts?… *shiver*).
How many of their parents are going to struggle financially over the next few months? How many of their little cousins and siblings are suddenly going to need babysitting? How many community members are going to be haggard and worn as quarantines and lock-downs grip take their mental, physical, and spiritual tolls over time? As this goes on, how many of their neighbors work in the medical industry, from doctors to housekeeping workers, are going to be stressed, drained, and worn down when they arrive home after hours and hours in hazmat suits and perhaps even terrible triage situations as this winds on and on?
I told the kids… that these people are going to need joy in their lives.
The kids’ neighbors, family, and friends are going to need their souls edified.
And MUSIC can be that catharsis.
We already are seeing what I’m talking about:
- Italian Parcel Drivers Rally in Song
- Dallas Residents Sing Together from Their Apartment Windows
- Germans Sing Bella Ciao from the Rooftops in Solidarity with Italians
I told my kids that part of their responsibility as musicians is to be good citizens and figure out a way to fight the tide of panic and dread. Find a battle and fight it. Share their musical skills and talents using the internet, the open air, the living room, whatever. Do it!
And you, my music educator comrades-in-arms, are part of this battle. You are the generals of what could become a rebellion against the spirit of chaos that seems to slowly be rising up.
All across the country, all across the world, YOU have on your email lists, your Remind.com accounts, your Twitter feeds, your Facebook groups… you have an army of musicians that you’ve trained all through your entire career for this very moment.
So… pause your Netflix show, grab a roll of toilet paper and a handful of your favorite Covid-19 memes, and get cracking.
Inspire your kids, your students, to take back the soul of our struggling and fearful society.
Music, after all, is the art of social-togetherness and shared experience. At a time when we are told to be socially distant, let’s do our part to make sure it doesn’t stay that way.
I love you, music educators.