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18.06.20 – Darrell Priestley
A lot has been said lately in the media, and in general conversation, about schools. To open, or not to open. To send or not to send your children. It comes down to risk; our perception of risk, and what can be done to mitigate it. Undoubtedly, the children are missing out on the benefits of education, of structure, of socialising and routine. We all hope that the children can return to regular school attendence and learning very soon, whether through adaptation, innovation, or best of all because the risk can be seen to have passed.
I heard a doctor in Scotland speaking on the radio on Wednesday about his three children, who look as if they will have had 20 weeks off before they resume schooling in August. He was full of praise for all of his children’s teachers, but freely pointed out that not one of his children has had any spoken contact with a teacher so far during lockdown. And then there’s you.
Like quite a number of parents, you may have prioritised music lessons for your child during this difficult period we are living through. We know that, sadly, this has not been possible for all, which is why we have also had free online check in visits available throughout for anyone wanting or needing them. If you have been able to keep up with lessons, you may have been rewarded by seeing your child make remarkable progress, against all the odds. It’s a thing! Amazing, really, because delivering live music lessons online is quite difficult. A school teacher interviewed on channel 4 news on Wednesday did a good job of listing the types of things that will always be easier to achieve when teaching in person, and I noted and agreed with each of the points he made; clearly, he had experience of providing live lessons online.
And yet. Despite any communication difficulties, students have mostly adjusted (we teachers too!), and have made us proud. I have seen several examples of students who have progressed more during lockdown than in the previous 12 months. All of this has been made possible by You! Amidst the turmoil, music lessons may well have seemed like a luxury. On the evidence, though, I would call it a sound investment, and I intend no pun.
If I could, I would like to go back in time and thank my long departed parents for all they did for me. I think I may have been a challenge, but they rose to it! I would thank my mum for sitting me on her knee so often as a toddler, and cajoling me until I learned to read. It gave me a big advantage when I started school. She frequently reminded me of the need to work hard and study; “Work like a stag” she would say, whenever she thought I might be slipping. And I would thank my dad for twisting my arm to take up music lessons, (I was at first reluctant), for driving me to Castleford every week, and finding just the right combo of psychology, incentives and just plain craftiness to get me practicing and making constant progress. I would like to thank them both for all the sacrifices, too; we didn’t have a fancy lifestyle, with few holidays, in fact the first time I went abroad I was 27 and a father myself. But thanks to them, I never lacked for my education, and all the time I was growing up, I never missed a music lesson.
You may think that parenting is all in a day’s work, but it is one of the hardest, and at the same time the most wonderful things any human being can do for another. So, if I may, I would like to acknowledge now the sacrifices you have made as a parent for your children, at all stages of their lives, both before and during the pandemic. Your children will reflect on this in the years to come, and it will warm their hearts whenever they think of it.
On behalf of the children: Thank You!