Finding an Audience in Isolation

Kim Hastings (Rocky Mountain House, AB) talks about the importance of performing for an audience, and provides some creative suggestions on how students can find audiences in isolation.

After over thirty years of teaching band – Covid-19! The day our schools were closed was the night before over 200 band students from my school were set to participate in a week of festival – full band, quintets, trios, duets and solos. It was like a punch in the gut for all of us. All that work without the performance and sharing their music with an audience.

There were not going to be any performances again anytime soon. The young musicians in my program were not going to experience the joy of playing together or the rush of that last note and finally – the applause.

To me, this is the tragedy of Covid-19 for music teachers and school ensembles. This is the hardest thing to lose and to try to replace with remote teaching. How do we do this? What can I offer as words of wisdom through this?
Find ways for your kiddos to share their music…. with their pets… with their families…. with the community. My students might not be practicing scales or etudes but they are accepting and embracing my challenges.

The Pet Challenge produced some beautiful ensemble music! Many students submitted amazing videos of their supportive and some less supportive pets! One grade 6 student played her recorder with a singing bulldog and another was accompanied by a barnyard chorus! There was also a curious labradoodle who desperately needed to see what was happening inside the French Horn!

On Music Monday – we challenged all of our students, alumni and parents to step outside at 11am and play O Canada throughout the community as a show of gratitude for living in Canada during these uncertain times. The response was overwhelming! Over 100 people participated – 25 alumni and a band parent who just celebrated her 70th birthday! The community fully embraced this despite the weather and showed up (at a distance) to hear some of the performances they were made aware of.

This week past week we focused on Mother’s Day – some fabulous tribute to mom were submitted. We hope to finish off the month of May with socially distanced performances for personal care homes weather permitting.

That’s my two cents, my ideas for engagement. Connection and inspiration are not easy from a distance. We do what we can.

Kim Hastings has been teaching junior high and middle school band for 32 years, spending the last 28 years as director of bands at Pioneer Middle School in Rocky Mountain House, AB. Ms. Hastings has been involved with a number of different boards advancing music education; she is president of the first Canadian Chapter of WBDI (Women Band Directors International) she was president of the Brandon University Student Music Educators Association, a vice president with the Alberta Band Association and the magazine editor while on the Music Alberta board of directors. In 2019, Kim was named the MusiCounts Teacher of the Year.