416 Area News Fall 2021

The SAO Board Representative for the 416 is Jennifer Martyn. You can send her your news at jennifer.f.martyn@gmail.com.

And so begins the fall! Some reflections – and a lot of gratitude – from my little corner of the 416 

Yesterday was my first day back teaching in person at North York Suzuki School of Music since that fateful week leading into March break 2020. Of course things aren’t quite business-as-before-times-usual, but it was incredibly joyful to be together again! 

As all music teachers can attest, getting ready for fall lessons during a pandemic has required extra preparation as well as some added stress. Despite that, however, I found that I walked in to the school feeling safe and ready – ready not just for the day of teaching but for whatever this fall throws at us. And while I can take some credit for my feeling of preparedness, I owe so much of it to my colleagues, students, and friends in the Suzuki community and beyond. 

Like other Suzuki programs in Ontario, NYSSM has been working hard to figure out the right balance of in-person and virtual programming and how to keep everyone safe. Because of our small space for group classes, we decided to keep most of our group classes online, while private lessons may be held in person. All students 12 and older as well as adults who come inside must be vaccinated and everyone is masked. Waiting areas are off-limits, students may enter the building when the teacher texts them, we have health checks and hand-washing upon entry, and each room we are using is large and equipped with thermometer, sanitizing supplies, a colourful rope to keep teacher and student distanced, and a motion-sensor HEPA filter (I must admit to spending more time than was strictly necessary waving my arms to see the lights and hear the sounds of the filter). I am so grateful to our administrator Kathryn for getting everything ready, and to our board for prioritizing health and safety, and for recognizing that each teacher and student has their own comfort level. No one is required to teach or be taught in person, we can change our minds at any time, and the school has made sure wifi is up to snuff for virtual lessons being taught from the school. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive environment!

My students and their families have also helped ease this transition, as they have with all the changes throughout the pandemic. Sudden move to online? No problem. Drastic change in schedule to accommodate child care? No problem. At home instrument care? Tech updates? Vaccination status? Masked practice? Alternate in-person and online every other week? More schedule changes? No problem, no problem, no problem! These families have adapted and adapted and adapted again, making everything easy – or at least easier

And of course my fellow teachers – those at my school and those in the wider community – so many ideas shared in conversation, online groups, and training courses. We are so lucky to have each other, and however you are choosing to navigate your teaching this fall, I wish you a wonderful and safe experience!