Open Windows, Open Door Recital!

Teaching online is starting to seem so normal that the lessons and the days move smoothly from one to the other.  So routine now, except that working solely online is very tiring, as study after study has shown.  Something about not being able to read body language makes the brain work harder to communicate and to reach an understanding of what someone is truly saying.  Most students are cheery when coming onscreen for their lessons, but I am also seeing a kind of restlessness now because it seems to be no end in sight from this pandemic.  So, we are looking for ways to use what tools are available for use in online platforms that liven up the fun while learning.  I now wear a different hat every week for teaching.  One week it was a gold paper crown for my birthday.  Another a silly fish hat with the head sticking out on side; the tail sticking out the other.  Students have started to come to their lessons wearing their silly hats!  I also pair my hat with a question of the week.  This week was “What did you do this week that was different or new when nothing much is new now from day to day?” I learned so much from my students’ sweet answers:  Kaylee made popsicles from scratch on one warm day; Al biked down to the waterfront with her brother and read a book. Sophie went to the large football field behind the high school with three friends and they took a different part of the field, spread out and exercised for their respective sports; softball pitching into a net, soccer moves, field hockey plays.  I started to pair up students in lessons for surprise visits…as when Henry visited Dean during his lesson.  That was huge!  We held an open window, open door recitals where everyone played their memory lists this past weekend with everything open to the sidewalk so that people walking by might hear their music and smile.  And my students have gotten really good at sending emoji’s, emoticons, and Giffy mini video-clips.  In more than one lesson, we made a game out of communicating this way!  If I wanted to hear a particular piece, I sent an emoticon that represented the song.  That was a blast!  And of course, students continue to share their pets, their stuffies, and their artwork.  In some ways, teaching is more intimate than ever before as we see into our student’s living rooms, bedrooms, and houses.