Making Music in Time of COVID
Though it is noble, teaching has never been an easy task. The challenges have only multiplied for music teachers at this challenging time.
Masks, Distance and Big Spaces
We are very fortunate. We have a large lobby in our cultural arts theatre that I have commandeered for singing purposes. But not every school, program or teacher is so fortunate.
"Mrs. Cassar, will we ever be able to perform again?"
Those are the questions that just break your heart. And of course, the answer is yes. I refuse to accept any other answer because I am a creature of hope.
Making Music in Time of COVID
Making music in the midst of the COVID pandemic has been an interesting journey. For some, studying music and partaking in live music performances have all but faded into a distant dream of activities once enjoyed as part of a very distant past. For others, a new stint of adventure in the virtual world of music making has afforded new opportunities, but opportunities that are framed with isolation as opposed to togetherness.
A place where music making has been very challenging is in our schools. Students have had to endure new, very restricted environments where they could no longer study or rehearse in their traditional spaces. They have moved outside where blending and hearing their peers as an ensemble is almost non-existent, and in some cases, they have endured the complete loss of music education and performance opportunities that they once knew and loved. The environment has been warped with fear and constraint. Performance programs, performing people and most importantly, performing children have suffered through this pandemic.
Performance programs, performing people and most importantly, performing children have suffered through this pandemic.
As many now look at the possibility of vaccination, recovery from storms and spaces to return to education and socialization in a traditional way, we must specifically acknowledge the importance of music in our schools and work to find creative solutions to reinvigorate practice and performance in a safe way. Music incorporates math, science, literature and history. Music increases brain activity, inspires creativity and helps students process emotions. Furthermore, it often serves as a social connector for students and adults alike. At the school where I teach, our music and theatre program truly helps form a home and family for our students. For some it is a second family and home away from home, but for others, it is the foundation of love and compassion in their lives.
Music is important in our communities.
From opera to jazz, Louisiana has been a centerpiece for cultural development and artistic leadership in America. Just as we played a pivotal role at the beginning of our nation’s musical journey, we must embrace our role again to be a leader in the relaunch of music and the arts. We have this glorious history as cultural leaders, we now have the opportunity to stand united as a state and make artistic history again.
As we consider what life will grow to look like post-pandemic, it is essential that we support and prioritize keeping music alive in our schools and communities.
Annelise Cassar Tedesco
Louisiana State Teacher of the Year, 2022
Louisiana First Foundation, Teach MAM Music Ambassador
Music Director and Teacher, CHS Voices
Chalmette High School - St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana