BENGALURU : This academic year, “going to school” took on a new meaning. And we are still figuring out what this looks like for students, teachers, parents, and cats (who magically find the perfect fighting spot right in front of the webcam). As music educators, we should think about how we can turn online learning into something more than a poor substitute for in-person classes. Stanford professor Baba Shiv (who also happens to be a legend, and someone I greatly admire) talks about incorporating design elements into large-scale behavioural change. One of them is using motivation as a means to adapt.
If we aim to do a “good enough job” teaching music online until schools re-open, we won’t do justice to the virtual medium. And if we stay deeply convinced that online classes can never be as good as in-person sessions, we might miss out on some great online learning tools.
This holds good for other things too. Home fitness is turning into more than a stop-gap for when gyms open again. We are experimenting with new recipes. Musicians everywhere are collaborating across borders and learning to improvise while streaming live. The trends are shifting, and so must we. Especially when it comes to teaching our kids.
As the lockdown starts to ease, it’s time to take a masked breath and reassess how we want to do things. How do we stay grateful? How do we teach our kids to continue appreciating the arts even when they’re not surrounded by their friends? What do we want to keep from this time? (My personal answer is no more jeans, but feel free to add something more profound to your list.)
Finally, remember to do this all at your own pace. Adapting to a new environment is not a productivity contest, or a let’s-not-acknowledge-our-emotions session. There is always a minute to hug your cat, drink an extra cup of coffee, or just look away from the screen. (The author is a singer, songwriter, educator and social entrepreneur).