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LEARN 49 C\bVID-19 Special Issue 2020 Vol 12 No 2 / LEARN 48 / PIANO MAGAZINE Another class we have converted to online delivery is Music Technology, taught by undergraduate students majoring in both Music Therapy and Music Education. Our Music Technology team created an online video tutorial [flipgrid.com/1c010bdb] to be shared across all OpporTUNEity ® classrooms. As our OpporTUNEity ® learners rotate through our four classes on campus, they cycle through Chorus, led by Music Education majors. In this video [flipgrid.com/dcc06ecb], Senior Alexis Phillips addresses 7th graders with a first assignment. Contextually speaking, the priority of all first week assignments is to engage the children in the program so that we can keep them involved as we scale up online instruction.

We have seven college student piano instructors who provide either solo or duo lessons to all children in the program. Since we do not yet know which kids have access to instruments at home, the instructors have aligned their first assignment and inquiry [flipgrid.com/terlato0658].

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Communication During this time of online instruction, I have found it is critical to increase communication across all areas. We continue to use our OpporTUNEity ® Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts to deliver broad and positive messages to stay connected to our OpporTUNEity ® community at large. I use TextMagic as a communication method between myself and the parents of our learners.

TextMagic allows me to queue up a group message, schedule it in advance, and send the same message to all parents without sharing my cell phone. (Note: There is a fee for this service.) I use GroupMe to stay connected to all OpporTUNEity ® college student instructors so that I can quickly answer any questions that pop up as they facilitate instruction on their end. The college students and I use Zoom for weekly meetings so that we stay connected and in alignment. And I am in regular communication with the leadership team at the schools we partner with, messaging our public-school liaisons regularly and relying on them to assist with the implementation of our OpporTUNEity ® Google Classroom.

EMBRACING MUSIC AS A LIFELINE I’ve been struck by the spirit of togetherness that has emerged through social media with the onset of the COVID-19 crisis and am grateful for my colleagues, across the globe, who have found common ground in the experience, embracing the opportunity to share ideas, help, and support each other during this time. As a music educator and higher education professional, I cannot control many of the circumstances that shape the lives of the children we serve. However, I can control the flexibility of my response and my commitment to continuing to educate through whatever means possible. Beyond this moment and looking ahead toward the future, I believe it is critical that we document what is happening in this moment, learn from it, and prepare ourselves so that if this happens again, the next time will be easier, for all of us and, perhaps most importantly, for our students. A strong advocate for inclusion in the arts, MELISSA MARTIROS has devoted much of her career to developing programs for underserved youth and children with special needs. She is a coauthor of Inclusive Piano Teaching, a blog sponsored by the Frances Clark Center, and is co-chair of the committee on special needs for the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. “BEYOND THIS MOMENT & LOOKING AHEAD TOWARD THE FUTURE, I believe it is critical t\uhat we document what is happening in this moment, learn from it, and prepare ourselves SO THAT IF THIS HAPPENS AGAIN, THE NEXT TIME WILL BE EASIER, FOR ALL OF US AND, PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANTLY, OUR STUDENTS. ” The recent global pandemic has generated a mental health crisis in our culture. Although experts will not fully comprehend the psychological effects of COVID-19 for many years, millions of people around the world are currently experiencing the repercussions. The complex emotions associated with the coronavirus include feelings of fear, grief, loss, helplessness, worry, loneliness, and a sense of feeling chronically overwhelmed. Negative news updates and worst-case scenarios sustain a culture of widespread anxiety. For people with diagnosed disorders such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, these emotions became even more difficult to navigate.

Music teachers are certainly not immune to these challenges. The Frances Clark Center hosted the webinar “Navigating Mental Health and Resilience in the Age of COVID-19” on March 25, 2020. 1 This date was, for many music teachers, within only one week of beginning online teaching for the very first time. In preparation for this webinar, the panelists polled music teachers around the world on social media. Teachers were invited to submit their questions and concerns about mental well-being during this time of social distancing and teaching with technology. What has been on the minds of music teachers during this global pandemic?

Psychological Challenges o\uf \feachers and Students Government orders to stay at home or shelter in place quickly changed the lives of music performers and teachers. Concerts and gigs were cancelled, churches ceased offering live services, and schools closed their doors. Some parents and students chose to withdraw from music lessons for financial reasons, or from lack of interest in online instruction. Many musicians continue to struggle with the aftermath of this sudden loss of income and the multiple anxieties associated with uncertainty and financial insecurity. MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELL – BEING in the \fime of C\bVID-19 by Vanessa Cornett LEARN 51 C\bVID-19 Special Issue 2020 Vol 12 No 2 / LEARN 50 / PIANO MAGAZINE Instructors teaching from home quickly noticed the disappearing boundaries between their work lives and home lives as they tried to balance work with childcare, homeschooling, or navigating personal space in a full house. Others found themselves suddenly alone, with no social interaction at all, craving human contact. Teachers noticed they were not able to keep up with the exhausting exchange of information through emails, texts, video conferences, news releases, and social media updates.

Empty grocery store shelves and rising death tolls fueled rational fears about our own physical health, and the well-being of our students and loved ones.

Teachers reported feelings of complete exhaustion after only a few hours of online teaching. Some mentioned that, even if everything had gone well, they still broke down at the end of the day from the emotional weight of so many stressors. Other instructors mentioned their feelings of embarrassment or ineptitude around using new technologies for their teaching. Some struggled with the frustration of troubleshooting technical glitches, some lamented the loss of their personal style and philosophy of teaching, and some considered quitting teaching altogether. Many teachers spent a tremendous amount of time and energy working to convince their students (or more often, the parents) to continue lessons in an online format.

Other themes emerged, including complex emotions such as grief, loss of an established way of life, separation from extended family members, general uncertainty about the future, and many others. Our webinar panelists offered some helpful suggestions for navigating the many mental and emotional challenges associated with COVID-19.

Establishing Priori\uties For many instructors, teaching in an exclusively online environment was a dramatic shift. When scrambling to grasp unfamiliar technologies and equipment, it is easy to forget the most important aspect of teaching during COVID-19: connecting with our students. Some students lost all face-to-face contact with schoolteachers who moved to asynchronous or self-directed study formats of instruction. For these students, a synchronous music lesson may be the only direct contact they have with another teacher. A face-to-face lesson with their piano teacher might be the only shred of normality in their lives. Go to claviercompanion.com to access: • a replay of the webinar “Navigating Mental Health and Resilience in the Age of COVID-19” • a handout of mental health resources for music teachers • a short mental wellness tip sheet • video demonstrations of wellness practices for teachers Many instructors will not be able to teach exactly as they had before the coronavirus. Perhaps less will be accomplished during a lesson, or perhaps they will spend more time connecting with students on a personal level.

Teachers can ask themselves: What is most important right now? What is the most meaningful way we can spend our lesson time together? Instructors may find that the answer to that question is not the angle of the camera or the audio quality of a demonstration. They can experiment with developing other meaningful projects or finding new ways to connect through music.

Video conferencing programs will not always work optimally, and wireless bandwidth will not always be as reliable as we expect. Nevertheless, we can show our students that we are here for them, and we’re doing our best. We can embrace new modes of learning with flexibility and compassion.

Stress Management During a Global Pandemic Stress management skills have never been more essential. Piano teachers are encouraged to incorporate contemplative breathing, stretching, or relaxation exercises into the music lesson for the benefit of them – selves and their students. For example, a lesson might begin with two or three deep breaths together, or with a more structured breathwork exercise where teacher and student both breathe in for four counts and out for six counts.

Teachers struggling with chronic worries and other distracting or disruptive thoughts might consider obtaining a notebook, journal, or note-keeping app to practice “parking” their worries throughout the day.

When a troubling or anxious thought arises, jot it down in the notebook and give yourself permission to worry about it later. Schedule ten to fifteen minutes a day for dedicated worry time, allowing yourself to fret, without guilt, either productively or unproductively, for the entire scheduled time. While this activity will not eliminate stressful thoughts, it may help reduce the frequency of those thoughts throughout the day.

Notice which thoughts and activities tend to trigger your own stress levels. If news updates trigger anxious thoughts, for example, try to limit your daily news consumption. Perhaps access the news only once a day, limit yourself to only one or two trusted news sources, or rely on a trusted friend to filter and share the information you need to know. If social media triggers feelings of anger or fear, schedule a dedicated but limited time to check these accounts, or limit yourself to only one account.

We can be mindful not to absorb the anxieties of other people, whenever possible. Since teachers often act as first responders to students, your students may freely share their thoughts and fears with you. It can be helpful to maintain a supportive environment for people to share their experiences if you also have a personal outlet—so as not to take on the additional stresses of your students, their parents, or your loved ones. Engage in self-care activities to sustain your own well-being.

\fhe Importance of Self-Care When sheltering in place, the days can seem to run into one another. Teachers may find they feel more grounded when they establish a daily or weekly schedule that includes some essentials of self-care. For example, scheduling reasonable bedtimes and waketimes can help our bodies adjust to a new paradigm of completing all activities while homebound. Planning menus and setting regular mealtimes may help encourage good nutrition.

And, although fitness centers are closed, we can still schedule in times for exercise, going for walks, using home exercise equipment, streaming workouts, or using a fitness app. Many apps are free, and others have suspended premium membership fees during COVID-19.

Teachers may prefer to make use of meditation or yoga videos or apps, or simply dance or play with their children.

We are more likely to stick to a fitness routine we enjoy.

Self-care includes establishing personal and professional boundaries. Some teachers feel as if they are expected to be available to everyone, including students, family members, coworkers, and friends, throughout the day.

The number of emails, personal requests, even demands from children may have increased exponentially in the last few weeks. Attending to all of these can take its toll on both physical and mental well-being. Instead, teachers might establish dedicated work time where they will be relatively undisturbed. They could limit their time answering emails or being available to others online. They can set an expectation, through an email signature or sign on the door, that they are only accessible during certain hours. Perhaps creating a small retreat space at home —a space that is yours, and where you can go to be alone —will help reinforce those personal boundaries.

Teachers often believe they are expected to be enthusiastic and passionate all the time, at all costs. With online teaching formats, it can feel as if there is an imbalance between the amount of energy expended by the teacher, and the energy coming back from the student. Some teachers find they are speaking louder or gesturing more enthusiastically than they need to. We can adopt a slower, gentler pace if needed, to conserve our energy. If the hours of synchronous online teaching begin to feel too strenuous or taxing, we can experiment with alternating real-time lessons with evaluating student videos or other forms of asynchronous instruction which can be completed in our own time. Mindfulness, the act of objectively focusing attention on the thoughts and events of the present moment, can help teachers cultivate greater equanimity in their lives.

To maintain emotional balance, teachers may choose to engage in meditation, prayer, mindful movement, or any other contemplative activity. Simple deep breathing exercises can stimulate the vagus nerve, which may counteract some of the anxious feelings triggered by the body’s fight-or-flight response.

Teachers are encouraged to develop their own self- compassion practice to help with chronic stress and self-criticism. Any practice that involves some form of gentle self-kindness may be effective: journaling, self-compassion meditations, positive self-talk, inspiring affirmations, acknowledging successes, encouraging curiosity, or embracing vulnerability. These practices can bring about a sense of inner balance and mental flexibility.

Developing Resilience\u Resilience, the ability to recover quickly from setbacks, is most readily developed in times of difficulty. When viewed from the perspective of a growth mindset, the challenges of a global pandemic offer ample opportunities to build inner strength and fortitude. Teachers, their families, and their students are obliged to prioritize their efforts and offer their time and energy to what matters the most.

Teachers and students alike can find ways to cultivate feelings of competence and empowerment. We may not be able to control a pandemic or the actions of others, but we can focus our attention on the small victories in our lives. Piano lessons naturally build resilience because they help students develop competence in learning a new skill, and they necessitate the ability to acknowledge mistakes and work to improve them. Instructors can introduce other activities to help students feel empowered, such as short improvisation, composition, or other creative projects. Online recitals for parents, pets, or long-distance relatives can improve confidence.

LEARN 53 C\bVID-19 Special Issue 2020 Vol 12 No 2 / LEARN 52 / PIANO MAGAZINE It is never too early for students to learn that, when people are struggling, it can help to r\ueach out to those in greater need. In doing so, we unite our students and connect with each other in ways that may transcend music making. Piano teachers can create opportunities for themselves to develop feelings of competence and resilience. Out of necessity, instructors quickly learned new skills to continue teaching during the COVID-19 outbreak.

While we tend to focus our attention on the things that didn’t go well, we often forget the many achievements associated with overhauling our home and work lives. If we choose to treat life as an experiment rather than a test, we may be more inclined to step even further outside our comfort zone. For example, you might try a new music app or online music theory program, experiment with setting up another device to act as a second or third camera in your teaching venue, or try sending an email using a voice recognition program. If something goes well, internalize and celebrate those successes.

We can develop resilience and encourage mental well-being outside of the teaching studio. Engaging in meaningful activities can help us maintain that balance between our work lives and personal lives. Teachers around the world are finding new, or returning to old, pastimes that bring them joy, or that offer the opportunity to develop a new skill. Some are remembering how to knit, quilt, bake bread, or garden. Others are learning new skills such as yoga, martial arts, podcasting, origami, restoring old furniture, pickling vegetables, or mastering the elusive Rubik’s cube. While it is admittedly fun and relaxing to binge on Netflix or scroll through social media accounts, those activities aren’t as purposeful or satisfying as those which allow us to develop a new skill. We might never again have the time to learn wood – working, chess, winemaking, birdwatching, card tricks, or take free online courses as we do right now. For those who are homeschooling with even less available free time, learning a new subject along with the kids can be equally satisfying.

Connecting with \bthers The worldwide call for social distancing can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and listlessness. It may be more helpful to think of this as a call for physical distancing rather than social distancing, because people tend to be happier when they maintain connections with other people. Since true isolation can exacerbate mental health challenges and lead to general unhappiness, none of us should remain socially isolated from others if we can help it. Humans are social creatures, and we need to find creative ways to interact with our students and with each other. We can easily facilitate virtual meetings or classes with small groups of students. These can be studio performance classes or other types of gatherings around a specific theme. For example, students can watch a video together and discuss the interpretation of a piece of music. We can show clips from documentaries or connect through storytelling. Precollege teachers might play theory games or hold friendly contests such as timed flashcard drills. These pedagogical ideas are also strategies for connecting students with each other in creative ways.

Teachers might use discussion forums to interact with students on a more social level. These can be set up using a learning management system (Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle), a free online discussion board program, or through a private social media group. Students may choose to upload photos of their practice space at home, members of their families, videos of their pets, or their own personal how-to videos. Teachers can set up a gratitude board for weekly posts, or organize a forum for students to share their favorite ideas for stress management or for fun things to do at home. Such a studio activity may not seem to be related to music instruction, but may help students share and connect with each other in order to interrupt the current cultural narrative of fear and stress.

We can also connect with our adult friends around the world through group video conferencing, happy hour gatherings, even shared meals via Zoom, Skype, or Facebook video chat. We can make the effort to get in touch with long-lost friends, even organizing small reunions or virtual social retreats. For teachers who are tired of video conferencing, an old-fashioned phone call can offer the opportunity to catch up with friends and family members while walking or gently moving the body to offset sedentary hours of work. 55 C\bVID-19 Special Issue 2020 Vol 12 No 2 / LEARN 54 / PIANO MAGAZINE It may help to remember that we can always choose to reach out and assist our communities. Many people are struggling with feeling lonely and isolated, including our seniors, shut-ins, veterans, and the mentally or chronically ill. A global pandemic can remind us of the many ways we can reach out and help struggling people without necessarily donating money or venturing outside. Teachers might organize a studio service activity to involve students in writing letters or drawing pictures for people in need, creating music recordings to share, or inventing other community service activities. It is never too early for students to learn that, when people are struggling, it can help to reach out to those in greater need. In doing so, we unite our students and connect with each other in ways that may transcend music making. Dr. Parker Palmer wrote, “Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness. They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves… The connections made by good teachers are held not in their methods but in their hearts—meaning heart in its ancient sense, as the place where intellect and emotion and spirit and will converge in the human self.” 2 Finally, teachers are encouraged to be aware of the mental health and emotional well-being resources available to them. These resources change rapidly, so it will help to check in periodically with reputable mental health and wellness organizations. The Frances Clark Center has developed an online resource list of books, articles, websites, blogs, apps, social media resources, and other information for music teachers in the time of COVID-19. Now, more than ever, is the time to be proactive in maintaining emotional balance and mental well-being for ourselves, in order to be present for those around us. VANESSA CORNETT is the Director of Keyboard Studies and Associate Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis–St. Paul. She is author of the book The Mindful Musician: Mental Skills for Peak Performance. \fhe connections made by good teachers are held not in thei\ur methods but in their hea\urts— meaning heart in i\uts ancient sense, as the place where intellect and emotion and spirit and wil\ul converge in the human self.” 2 NOTES1. The webinar panelists were Dr. Vanessa Cornett, Dr. Jessica Johnson, Dr. Noa Kageyama, and Dr. Julie Jaffee Nagel, all of whom contributed valuable information for this article. 2. Parker J. Palmer, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998), 11. The need to shelter in place during the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way music instructors interact with their students. Most teachers now rely on various technologies to facilitate remote instruction for lessons and group classes. While this shift is essential to slow the spread of infectious disease, the sudden move to online instruction has created new challenges for teacher health and wellness. Online teaching is, perhaps ironically, strenuous to the physical body. The following guidelines are intended to serve as reminders for teachers to be aware of their own physical health and well-being as they adjust to new modes of instruction.

The Importance of Physical Distancing The Center for Disease Control (CDC) regularly updates its health and wellness guidelines to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. 1 These guidelines, now familiar to most people, include washing the hands frequently for twenty seconds using soap and warm water, using a hand sanitizer containing at least sixty percent alcohol, avoiding touching the face, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces on a daily basis. One of the most important instructions, maintaining a safe social distance, has changed the lives and livelihoods of music instructors around the world.

Until recently, most piano teachers interacted with their students in person, on a regular basis, and often within a small teaching space. Many of us sat very close to our students in order to play the piano along with them, to keep small children focused, or to correct student alignment and hand position. The natural proximity between music teacher and student is something that many of us will no longer take for granted. According to the CDC, airborne pathogens are more likely to be transmitted within a space of six feet. While the recommendation to maintain a six-foot distance in between people is physically possible in some teaching venues, it is far from ideal. Until the global pandemic has passed and the CDC issues less stringent guidelines, teachers are obliged to discontinue in-person lessons entirely. Consider that, when the health and well-being of our students, ourselves, and our families are concerned, it is always better to exercise extreme caution. FOR ONLINE TEACHING Physical Health and Wellness Considerations by Vanessa Cornett LEARN Copyright ofPiano Magazine: ClavierCompanion isthe property ofFrances ClarkCenter for Keyboard Pedagogy anditscontent maynotbecopied oremailed tomultiple sitesorposted to alistserv without thecopyright holder’sexpresswrittenpermission. However,usersmay print, download, oremail articles forindividual use.

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