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A unique year with unexpected silver linings

No-one could say that 2020 has been an easy year. We have all been tried and tested constantly this year and never have the challenges of balancing work and home life been more tested. I wanted to focus today´s blog on the unexpected musical gifts that 2020 has brought me so far.

Virtual teaching to Key Stage 1 through to GCSE was a real challenge when we first went into lockdown in March. I have not learned so much about online musical applications so fast in my life - just trying to keep the children engaged and myself one step ahead. It became easier though, and through the fog, I realised that having to adapt to this new way of teaching such a practical subject, my creativity was reaching new heights. I was thinking outside the box more, and finding solutions in unexpected ways. My students´ willingness to give everything a go helped (not all experimentation was completely successful!).

This unleashed creativity, combined with more time at the computer, led me back to songwriting for myself, as an escape. I feel really blessed to have been taught a skill that ultimately has the power to balance my wellbeing, stress and mental health.

We finally went back into school and teaching face to face in September, but with no singing at all. Here was a new challenge again...

I discovered some amazing websites by talented music educators that have completely saved me this term - keeping the students practically music-making without the usual resources or the ability to sing.

And then, Christmas was looming. How could I do Christmas without any singing?

The last 6 months of thinking outside the box, flowing creativity and time at the computer all came together and the Classroom Play-Alongs were born. I have had so much fun creating these and they are a journey in themselves. The first ones now look quite clunky to me, but I am getting better at it (all suggestions are welcome for improvement - just drop me a gentle email!). They are enabling me to continue music making in the classroom with the many constraints we have at the moment.

I hope that you get the chance to have a look at them and also download the printables from the website to go with them. I am hoping to continue with some other ideas after the Christmas period, so all requests will be carefully considered! Just send an email!

Whatever you are doing for Christmas in your setting - remember this - you have come through a challenging 8 months where the rules are being re-written all the time. Embrace your creativity and don´t worry if it doesn´t always work - we are getting better at what we do all the time!

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