Imagine being a young person trying to make sense of this new ‘normal’. Their school has been cancelled, their outdoor play has been compromised, their ability to see their peers cut off, and their after-school activities cancelled. In short their routines, which are critical for their mental health are non-existent. Parents are worried about their child’s social and emotional development on top of the many other worries they are managing daily. Experts are recommending that parents create daily routines for when children have predictability in their day they will feel safer and less anxious.
With the importance of providing continuity, predictability and the knowledge that music has the power to create community, to build confidence and self-worth and to help manage anxieties, the AIFEC team responded quickly by transitioning into an online model of instruction. Within a day our instructors created and began posting online videos that were short, entertaining and instructional on our website. These were organized by instrument and were intended to entertain and be instructional. Social media was used to build awareness of them, https://hamiltonmusiccollective.ca/programs/video-lessons/ To date 56 videos have been uploaded and shared to the community.
At the same time the team began a more formalized process for creating a robust online community to maintain engagement with our students and their parents. The overarching theme was to create a community responsive to children, reflective of parents’ wishes and NOT to add to families already high level of stress, as they sought to manage their own personal concerns related to COVID-19. The process began with a survey to parents to ensure that the resulting program was an evidenced-based response. Based on the survey results the following teaching initiatives were launched:
- One-on-one 15 minute weekly online lessons for all students in the AIFEC program. To date over 100 students have signed on.
- To build a fun community Group lessons are being run weekly by the various instrumental teachers. These group lessons will allow the children to demonstrate to each other what they have learned, learn from each other and very importantly connect and collaborate.
- Guest Musicians are being featured to build a larger community supporting youth through music.
- Parent support drop-ins are being hosted by teachers to engage with parents.
For students who do not have their instrument at home arrangements have been made to deliver one in a contactless way.
The initiatives are working…
We feel very lucky to have the opportunity to continue the lesson via internet. The videos on the AIFEC website help a lots too. Dominique likes to practice and show her works to Marianna. She got great feedback and she is motivated to practice. Thanks again! Dominique n’aurait jamais eu la chance d’apprendre le violon si AIFEC n’avait pas été offert à son école. C’est une organisation extraordinaire!”