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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The world of online teaching - where does music fit?


I now have had 3 weeks of distance learning experience and am on Spring Break.  It's been good to have some time to reflect on how things are going with my students and reevaluate my goals and objectives.  When this all started it seems like teachers were ultra motivated to make assignments and find content for students.   And we succeeded!  There was no shortage of great ideas.  I was creating and posting assignments every day for my high school class (which normally meets on an A/B schedule) until one parent contacted me to tell me that every teacher was piling on work and it was too much!  Of course....I was so excited to post the awesome stuff I was creating, I forgot balance.  I hear stories about students who feel over-burdened with hours of work and assignments and feel overwhelmed.  All subjects are important.

It made me think...what do I REALLY want students to learn right now? 

Is now the time to make sure my students memorize the circle of 5th, memorize every major and minor scale, master 3rd position?   Maybe those would work great for online learning.. but at the end of all this, what do I want my students to really know?   I definitely don't want my class to end with a burdensome feeling.  There is time for all that stuff when social distancing is over. 

It seems to me that now is the perfect time to teach students - Why Music?  Music is healing, music expresses our deepest emotions, music moves people, music inspires.  There have been awesome articles online and in the news about people using music to deal with the challenges of this pandemic.  Isn't this why we do music?  To reach, uplift, inspire, and provide hope ourselves and others?  Music teaches us that anything possible.

I had been teaching new music to my students.  There is no way we'll ever perform that music.  Concerts are cancelled for the rest of the year.  I don't think that music is going to mean much to my students.  I need a new plan.  After Spring Break I am going to shift gears.  We'll still learn music, but it won't be for a traditional concert.  It's going to be for us to heal.  It's going to bring families together.  It will be for neighborhoods and friends.  I want my students to see what music can do for others.

My new 'Music Inspires' objective will focus on the following lessons:
  • Students will identify weaknesses and strengths in their playing and make a plan to overcome weaknesses.  Because in life, we can always overcome any obstacle.

  • Students will choose music they personally want to learn.  My best private teacher was one who talked to me and let me learn music I had always wanted to learn.  I worked harder for that teacher than any other because I was heard and I had ownership of my learning. 

  • Students will learn 'Amazing Grace' and we will perform it all at the same time on our porches.  I will encourage students to perform the melody for family members, friends over video calls, neighbors, and all who will hear to uplift the world and provide hope and comfort.
You can have my arrangement of AMAZING GRACE for FREE at my TPT Store:  

Click here for MIDI audio:  

  • Students will read and learn about how music makes a difference:



Dutch orchestra performs 'Ode to Joy' from self-isolation

The Italians Making Music on Balconies Under Coronavirus Quarantine | The New Yorker

Heartwarming Moments Quarantined Italians Sing Together from Balconies


Family's lockdown adaptation of Les Misérables song goes viral



  1. Thank you for these ideas and words! They were what I needed to hear today. I am an orchestra teacher in Bentonville AR. I grew up in SLC Ut. I feel like I should know you.?? You spoke to my heart with your ideas today. Thanks

    1. I'm so glad this post resonated with you. I really feel that music should help heal us and bring us together during hard times. I'm not sure if I know you? :) I grew up in Michigan, but I've lived in UT for quite a while.