I miss teaching. I miss seeing my students in person. I miss learning by working alongside brilliant minds who inspire me to be better. I miss saying funny things by accident in rehearsal. I miss seeing students finally grasp a concept in person and then organically asking intuitive and challenging questions in the moment. I miss the pleasure of everyone in the room executing the last chord of a piece in tune and then releasing that chord in a cutoff that is so clean, no one dares to make a sound in fear of destroying the beauty we had just created.
Anyone that says that teaching online in the time of Covid is a replacement to teaching in person truly doesn’t understand the culture teachers build in their classroom. These two things are far from synonymous. It’s like comparing stale saltine cracker crumbs to a satisfying five course meal because both are edible. I’m sure there are some aspects of teaching that I miss that are happening, it’s just I can’t really tell due to the lack of community I feel.
Here are six little pieces that I composed recently while I was waiting for students to respond during teaching online in the time of Covid. Everything here was 100% played trying to fill the awkward silence of me staring at pictures of teenagers who have muted themselves and turned their cameras off. God only knows what they are actually doing. I will let your imagination run wild. If I liked what I was playing, I wrote it down, and then assigned a title to it. Absolute music became program music.
I liken these pieces to be an imitation of what Kabalevsky did with so many clever character pieces. Just these aren’t as clever. I have the luxury of not having to depend on composition for my livelihood so I don’t feel the need to impress anyone with these very silly works. I do feel however that these pieces capture a moment in time that is unprecedented, and they continue to induce both anxiety and laughter in me as I listen to them. I hope they bring some levity to any teacher going through this weird time.
These five pieces are dedicated to all the teachers in their feelings while struggling through online learning 2020. I’m only going to assume there will be more. Feel free to listen while looking at the score or maybe download and try them yourselves.