Updated 23.10.20

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News * Developments * Updates

The Big Question




Let’s go Zero

…that’s Covid Zero!

08.09.20 – Darrell Priestley, Academy Co-Founder and Principal

This very morning, in the space of seven seconds in the Priestley kitchen, (the de facto Academy HQ), an important decision was reached: we will not be reopening the shop to the public at this time.

The intention had been to reopen the shop this September, with strict limits on entry, but only until 3.30pm in the week and not at all on Saturday. By opening when few if any students pass through, we had sought to protect students and their rides (attending parent) from risk through social contact. It now seems quite clear this is not enough. If we are to do our bit for Covid Zero, the strict rules required could not be adequately explained to passing trade, nor their compliance guaranteed. So, call and collect only for now, with shop customers met at the door with their goods after telephoning their order.

Effectively, this means Academy only to pass the inner entrance door. And, for those that do, strict rules must be adhered to. It will not be onerous, but it will be enforced. This is about keeping you, your mum, and your granny safe, and for us that means pursuit of Covid Zero, because only zero will do. Covid Zero means a safer, more optimistic future ahead, and while we will all have to get this sooner or later, taking leadership means getting it sooner, as in now.

Watching professor Jonathan Van Tam interviewed on Sky Breakfast shortly afterwards simply confirmed that our decision had been the right one. Risky times lie ahead, but we believe we can navigate them safely, as a community. When you are on board with us in this, and we are in total lock step, we will immediately be in a far better place than lock down. The good things in life, like learning and music, can continue, and we will enjoy our social interaction again, but without risk to others.

We can do this. Guidance will be produced, and your presence at the Academy requires that each of us follow it to the letter. This is the only way to go. For those unable to comply, remote lessons at home will be the only option we can offer at this time. Meanwhile, while the shop will remain closed to the public, at some expense to us, Academy attendees can shop with exclusive access on their regular visits only.

I hope and trust our students and their families will grasp why it is so very important that we take these steps. I cannot in honesty say it was a difficult decision, since it was logical and necessary. We hope you will embrace the new guidance, knowing that these measures exist simply to ensure your safe enjoyment, and the safety and well being of those you love and care about. I totally believe in what we are doing, and I have every intention that you will have fun learning with us through these extraordinary times.

Surely, going Covid Zero must be worth it?

For Safer Sound




06.09.20 – Darrell Priestley

NMA is hurtling straight like an arrow toward opening later this very month! It’s so exiting. But what have we been up to, I hear you ask? If only you knew!

It’s been quite some time since Eileen and I had a day off of any decription. How long, I don’t recall, (though it was four weeks on Saturday since I last had time for a bike ride), but since my last teaching day, nine days ago now, we have been working for many hours every day making intense preparations. The biggest single job, and the one you would be hard pressed indeed not to notice, was redecorating the cavernous nma hall, stairs and landings that you pass though every week when you attend. In twenty six years at the current location, it is the first time we have tackled this daunting task ourselves, but thankfully all the really big challenges (recall the ceiling heights around the stair wells?) are behind us now.

A number of safety screens have been sourced and ordered, which together with other safety measures should be in place before students set foot back inside the building later this month.

From Monday 7th Septemeber, lessons will be moving into a transition phase, and the timetable is being rebuilt in a flexible way that will allow students to take their lessons either at the Academy, or remotely if preferred or on occasions when needing to isolate.

Throughout the last nine days we have been variously tired, hungry, and at times even quite exhausted. Some evenings when we got home, we briefly zombied through the kitchen and then shuffled straight to bed, but the results speak for themselves, and now we are eagerly charging toward the finishing line.

Next task, to write the guidance for returning students. Covid zero won’t achieve itself, and as a community we will do our bit to bring it about by diligently working together. I raise a virtual glass to all our fine students and their wonderful families. I am also keen to see our fellow teachers again in person; Teams, Zoom, Skype and the telephone are ok, but never quite the same.

Keep watching this space for updates – something a lot like normal business (only better) will resume shortly.

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