First and foremost, this is a people business, Caring for our students and teachers is our first priority.
Important update - see below to learn how we are responding to the latest developments in the pandemic, and what we are doing for you, to keep you safe, educated, enlightened and happy.
25.09.20 – Darrell Priestley
No, silly, that’s peachy, not patchy!
How are we finding things? It’s nice of you to ask! A very gentle resumption of in-person lessons began on Monday, with the first teacher and a select few students allowed through the door. Each student was met at the door, and briefed on the new rules and guidance, necessary and expedient, and fairly pain free, apart from all those stairs and more than a few trigger happy fingers holding the intercom button and filling our heads with an incessant buzzing that even now has not completely gone. Don’t worry folks, you’ll get used to it soon enough, especially if we ask you to pull a shift on door duty from time to time:)
All joking apart, it’s been great seeing faces and hearing voices other than our own back inside the building after so long. The plan to control the flow of people at any time is working seamlessly so far, and satisfyingly while anything like M&S style crowds have been happily avoided, there is again the unmistakable feeling that life has returned to the Academy. (It’s been so quiet!)
On Thursday, the first of the new, smaller, actual classes convened, with three students in a headphone lesson. You would have to ask the students how they found it, but from my point of view it went pleasingly well, with every one of the students, all girls as it happened, making noticeable progress. All the better for me was the fact that this happened despite the fact that I had not seen two of the three piano students for six whole months, not even online. So, off to a highly encouraging start, then.
The Academy has returned with a new timetable, and newly reduced days of operation. We now open on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, in which time Eileen and I still put in comfortably over a full working week, which having worked crazy hours for years, and absolutely nuts hours during the months approaching reopening, we think should be quite sufficient. We have always had the goal to bring the pleasure of making music to the widest number of people, but there is no denying that the nature of our offering is changing. We now have to satisfy not only local demand, but increasingly also be ready to help those keen to join us who may live further away, and get to visit us less often, and who will be taking at least some of their lessons with us online.
With capacity thus relatively limited, this leaves us under some obligation to make sure that the lesson slots we do have available are taken by those who will most enjoy using them. Obvious things like practicing, (at least sometimes!), and being at the lessons regularly, (either in-person or online), are the things that count for the most. Rest assured though, wherever possible we will always try to accommodate new students who are eager to start and who show a willingness to learn.
As many of you will know, because we don’t make a secret of it, we have been working in this arena for a quite a while. Along the way we have made many friendships, met terrific, warm people, and enjoyed getting to know other families with whom we have so much in common. In many ways, it’s been a thrill ride, though not the scary kind. It’s certainly been a lovely way to spend a working life. We now find ourselves looking forward with genuine enthusiasm to the next stage, and getting acquainted with new friends we have yet to meet, courtesy of music. Lucky us!