Well, it happened…The strangest spring of our lifetimes. The most odd time we could never imagine. COVID-19 has changed everything we do. We are Zooming, WebEx’ing, Google Meeting, and literally living in the virtual world. It has been an adjustment for everybody, not just music education. However, inside every challenge is an opportunity to grow and learn. From the very beginning of this experience, we have accepted the challenge and taken advantage of the opportunity. I would like to thank the Governing Board and our AMEA Staff for all of their work on bringing the organization two very valuable resources that are now available. First, through the work of Carl Hancock, we have a dedicated space on our website called “Alternative Music Teaching Resources.” It was designed as a receptacle for anything and everything related to teaching music without actually being at school. Please contribute your best ideas, lessons, practices, and finds related to distanced learning. Please also use the ideas which are there already. Our organization has done a wonderful job of sharing knowledge in this new and unusual time. If you haven’t heard, we also have developed a new platform for ongoing Professional Development called the AMEA “Town Hall Meeting/Social.” At the time of this writing, we have hosted our first session, and it was fabulous. Phil Wilson and Susan Smith both gave wonderful sessions packed with useful and valuable information. Thanks to both of these professionals for being the first presenters in this new format. We will continue hosting the Town Hall Meeting/Social every Monday evening at 5:30. The format will develop over time but expect to see both large group meeting time and break out interest sessions more specific to our various Divisions and classroom situations. Staying connected to our profession is very important, so definitely plan to attend these events.
Engaged and Flexible
The two words which seem to define this very interesting time are Engagement and Flexibility. We must stay engaged with our students so that teaching and learning can continue. We must stay engaged with our parents so they know what the expectations are, and so they continue to support our programs. We must also stay engaged in the process of Advocacy. This is not the time to become invisible and allow ourselves to be distracted. Instead, continue to be visible and vigilant. Our students, parents, communities, culture, profession, and art form deserve our very best…all the time. And finally, we must stay engaged with other professionals so that we can help each other thrive in such a different time. We must not allow ourselves to become complacent with lowered expectations. Instead, stay engaged and communicate as much as possible so that we are prepared for whatever the future holds. We must also be flexible. It seems like every day there is a different outlook on the progress of this virus, and the plans continue to change in response. Be flexible with your students and give them opportunities to learn music in different ways. Take the opportunity to teach the things you have always wanted to teach your students, but never had the time. This is that opportunity! Be flexible with your parents and other stakeholders as well. They are working through this, learning to live life differently, and trying to be teachers to their kids just like we are. And be flexible with the administrative structure at your institution. They are trying to figure out how to have school without actually having school. This is a very difficult time for them as well and they will appreciate the music people being flexible.
Fall 2020 and Beyond
I would highly suggest being prepared for a multitude of possibilities for what education will look like in the fall. You have all heard the conversations. The State of Colorado has already counseled its District Superintendents to be prepared for schools to not open until January of 2021. Colleges and Universities are also talking about the real possibility that they will not reopen to in- person classes until January of 2021. Nobody really knows what education will look like in the fall of 2020 yet, and its only four months away. Some school districts in our state have already made plans to include more distanced learning in the curriculum. Will school start on time? Will there be some sort of alternate scheduling scenario? Will there be football games, AKA Marching Band performances? Will schools start on time, and then have to close again? Will we get to be in the same room with our students? I don’t think anybody can honestly answer these questions quite yet. But our response needs to be one of genuine concern, ferocious planning, purposeful engagement, meaningful connection, and fearless flexibility.
New President and Future Leadership
I have thoroughly enjoyed being the President of AMEA, and thank you very much for allowing me the opportunity to serve our fabulous organization. It has indeed been one of the highlights of my career. On June 1st, David Raney will become the President of our organization and I am very much looking forward to his leadership. As I have observed and worked with David over the past two years, I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that he is going to be a wonderful President for the AMEA. We also just completed an election cycle. I would like to thank all the candidates who were willing to serve our organization. Congratulations to Dr. Carla Gallahan for being re-elected as AMEA Recording Secretary and to Dr. Rob Lyda for being elected as President-Elect. We all look forward to your leadership and continued devotion to our profession and our organization. My sincere wish is that each of you stay safe and have a great summer. And regardless of what happens, Music Education is STILL AWESOME in Alabama!
Greg Gumina, AMEA President