Virtual teaching is...an adventure. Navigating this time has certainly been a change.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I've created a series of signs that I hold up while teaching via FaceTime and Zoom. As ridiculous as it is to have gold glitter glue letters on magenta paper, any great teacher will tell you that SAYING less and DEMONSTRATING more has longer-lasting impact on students. Plus, with the challenge of not being in person and hearing comments in real time, visual cues are becoming increasingly necessary.
So, when a student doesn't use enough air, they see my "blow" sign. It inevitably elicits a giggle, followed by better air.
Among these other treasures are Elizabeth-isms, phrases I use often:
"Tone doesn't maintain itself". (Translation: your long tone game needs attention).
"I think you want to do that again." (Translation: that sound was...not awesome.)
aching gem: hearing the excitement of an 8th grader talking about the courses she’ll take in high school...which doesn’t include band.
Maybe I should be upset that this girl won’t continue to play an instrument because I personally value music so much. Maybe I should “check out” and focus on my other kids that will be in band again next year. Maybe I should talk her into staying.
I’m going to do none of those things.
If I only cared about and taught students whose “thing” was saxophone, I’d be a pretty miserable teacher. If I tried to live vicariously and create protégés because I think it’s important, I would end up exhausted and frustrated.
To all of my students, current, former, and future: I will do my absolute best to celebrate the things that bring you joy. Especially when the things that excite you are best for you. Go join the robotics team. Go study animal husbandry. Go be a scientist. Go be a lawyer. Go be an aesthetician. Go be a nurse. Go be an entrep...
When I was a freshman in high school auditioning for District Band, there was a junior who went right before me. He schlepped up to the music stand to play his etudes and looked almost bored doing so, wearing a grungy hoodie and sweatpants. Despite his appearance, he played with a mature sound and precision I was not yet capable of. I had felt ok up to that point, and immediately panicked and lost my confidence. Aside from being intimidated, a part of me wondered if sweatpants guy had some secret edge to playing well, like comfy attire and a blasé attitude, that I had somehow missed in my months of preparation.
I can’t tell you what notes I missed or what scales were called. But I can tell you that my biggest mistake, one I still remember vividly, is thinking that I was “less than,” that my voice didn’t matter, and that my preparation wasn’t “good enough” despite countless hours in the practice room honing my skills and learning new ones.