Music Monday will be celebrated in another new way at Carlton Comprehensive High School in 2021. The school will posting a few videos on their various social media pages throughout this week.
For the second year in a row, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, music teacher Brenda Bernath wanted to keep the tradition going.
Music Monday was started in 2005 by the Coalition for Music Education with the goal of improving the state of music education in Canada, while striving to bring attention to the importance of equitable access to quality music education for all students. Every year on the first Monday in May students, educators, and musicians celebrate this day by sharing music in their schools, communities and virtually online.
“I cannot believe that it has been over a year since we were originally sent home from school at the beginning of the pandemic. When we were sent home last March, I was hoping that we would be back by the beginning of May so that we could still have our year end band and choir concert,” Bernath said.
In 2020 they took Music Monday to YouTube with Music Monday: Carlton Celebrates Music, Now…and Then.
“It was a way to celebrate music, share student talents, and use music to connect virtually with people at a time when we were so disconnected. And now here we are a year later, still celebrating music virtually. And although there are so many great benefits to live performance and experiencing music that way, sharing music virtually has actually grown the size of the audience. It has given people the ability to view a performance from wherever they live and at a time that works for them,” she explained.
The playing of wind instruments in school remains not recommended for band class and Bernath explained that students found new ways to engage in music both individually and as an ensemble. “Some students took their band instruments home and played them there, others played non-wind instruments at home or at school, and others formed smaller ensembles at school and played music using buckets, tone chimes, and percussion instruments,” she said.
According to Bernath, the process varied and was based on students interests and needs. They wanted to be able to accommodate students’ needs and keep them engaged in music.
“Hopefully, the experience has taught students to keep their options open in terms of music, as there as so many ways of experiencing the value of music and the gift that it has to offer. Of course, we are still looking forward to being able to play as a band again, as we do miss the rich sound of the concert band and working together as a collective whole in creating music,” Bernath said.
She explained that there was some debate about what Music Monday would look like this year. After consultation with a colleague and students, the decision was made to post individual videos rather than a long production like in 2020.
“Last year, we had so many videos to share between the ones that kids were able to make while they were learning from home and then also using other videos from past events throughout the school year. And at that time, people were at home as well with time to watch a longer production,” Bernath said.
They put together a similar project at Christmas where they shared performances with senior’s homes in Prince Albert. Then in February they created a “What’s Your Passion?” project. In that students were invited to share photos or videos of what they loved to do on the school’s social media pages. “It was really meant to highlight and celebrate all kids, their interests, skills and talents, and who they are as individuals. In a way, the presentation for Music Monday this year is a continuation of that idea,” she explained.
“I wanted a way to share photos and a few videos of what band looked like this year for us during the pandemic, and how we continued to pursue our passion of music, just in a different way. It was kids playing their band instruments at home, some playing non band instruments, some working individually, and others playing in small ensembles. It was whatever it had to be to keep kids engaging in music,” Bernath added.
She explained that as a music teacher she hopes to see band return to what it was before with possibly bell covers on instruments and playing distanced so they can be together as group.
“Band has a huge impact on the lives of our students. I have had students tell me they miss the band experience. Even graduated students and their parents often state how much they miss band and how it was such a great part of high school. They miss the rehearsals, the music, the performance, the team. Hopefully we can get back to all of that,” Bernath said.
Music Monday will be available at both the Carlton Facebook and Instagram pages.