Despite the limitations of the pandemic, Mary Anne continues to exhibit an impressive range of ability in bringing the tradition of EMS’s strings program to our students. Under normal circumstances, she juggles an array of levels and abilities, a feat that typically involves multiple age groups working in conjunction, literal hands-on instruction for proper finger and bow alignment, older students mentoring younger students, specialized instruction from parent volunteers and visiting musicians in the hallways, and preparation for live performances. The mitigation factors for COVID mean that all of those techniques are currently impossible, however, so Mary Anne has gone to the well to rethink her methodology. The school has financed increased private and ensemble instruction beyond regular school hours, most of which Mary Anne has conducted outside within the courtyard and greenspace by the back entrance. And, she has traveled to each cohort within the school to meet students where they are, including the pictured highlights from last week that showcase listening and repeat methods with the K class as they performed the syllabic counts of their names on ‘rhythm sticks,’ and helping the 1-2 class with the basics on their instruments. Meanwhile, she has provided a broad assortment of online resources to assist with students’ learning at home, which are particularly important for parents since the Suzuki method relies on the oversight of a mentor to guide each student in their development of fundamentals, typically learning needed techniques along the way to engage in discussion and problem-solving. Mary Anne has also enhanced her ensemble program to bring students together in small groups within cohorts to learn a piece together, thereby furthering their long-term planning and thinking in preparation for an audience. Moreover, she is using technology platforms such as Zoom and a new software feature designed by her nephew to supplement her in-person instruction and to coordinate student pieces to mimic a live performance. Although we may not be able to convene in St. Paul’s as a community to enjoy a typical program in the near future, Mary Anne is ensuring that the strings program remains an integral portion of our curriculum and a means of bringing together the breadth of our school community.
Revamped Strings During COVID
Sep 14, 2020