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Adapting Music Education to a Pandemic

By Darby Martin, Music Teacher on Lynn & Beverly Campuses

No singing, no sharing instruments, no cross-classroom movement, no touching, stay six feet apart, masks on. Seems like a recipe for a very boring and unproductive music class…but not necessarily! Music educators all over the world have been thinking of new and exciting ideas to keep music class fun, but also safe amidst a pandemic. This year at NSCS, I’ve tried my best to incorporate some of those lessons. Here are a few that I’ve tried this year that the students have loved!

Instead of singing this trimester, we are learning American Sign Language signs to the worship song “What a Beautiful Name” by Bethel Music. Students in grades K-5 on Lynn campus and K-4 on Beverly campus will be learning the signs and I will be recording some of them performing. This is a safe way to have students participate in music making without singing. Last trimester before Christmas break, the students had the option of participating in a virtual choir experience for the virtual Christmas concert. Several Concert picstudents submitted a video of themselves singing “Silent Night”, and I edited together the different videos to make a choir. It was amazing and enriched the students experience. Students in middle school learned various Christmas tunes on Tone Chimes and performed those in the concert as well. Though perhaps not apparent at first glance, there are so many options for students to learn music without singing and maintaining social distancing!

In February and March, 1st – 4th graders will be learning about instruments of the orchestra in various capacities. 1st and 2nd graders will be studying Camille Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals as well as Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. In these units students will analyze how each instrument represents a different animal or concept, based on the timbre of the instrument (or group of instruments). For example, the Wolf is played by “three mean French horns”. 3rd – 5th grade on Lynn campus and 3rd and 4th grade on Beverly campus will be studying instruments of the orchestra through interactive videos, research and even seeing some live orchestra instruments (they will not be shared, however).

Also, in February and March, 7th and 8th graders will be studying film music as well as music by Black composers to celebrate Black History Month. In addition, middle schoolers will be learning Bucket Drumming (drumming on buckets with drumsticks) and recording a mini performance later this spring.

Pre-K and Kindergarten students have been and will be working on movement-based learning, performing movements to classical music, and practicing dynamics (soft and loud) and tempo (fast and slow).

These are just a few of the musical activities the students at NSCS have been working on this year and will continue to explore and discover the rest of the 2020-2021 school year. I am so excited to share more videos and pictures of their hard work and determination in the future. Each day the children are proving that even during a pandemic, music class is fun!