Planning for the upcoming school year may seem impossible as guidelines change day by day. However, this year the process is far more crucial as educators must contend with so many health and logistics components far outside their normal focus on education. These factors are requiring more flexible plans that have diverse options depending on the learning scenario.
At this point, almost every state has produced plans that provide guidance to schools as to when certain school activities can resume and when certain precautionary practices can be relaxed. Some of these plans are color-coded. Some use phases. Some have four levels, others three or five – but they all take into consideration guidance from national health experts and organizations as well as government guidance.
Since each state is unique and has been affected differently, these state documents vary greatly in some details, but there are some common threads that are woven through all of them. One of these common threads – and maybe the most difficult one for a music educator – is the idea of physical distancing.
To handle this challenge, national and state music education organizations are urging teachers to get involved to proactively advocate for music education. Hearing from music teachers will help administrators create plans that’ll help students get back to making music together sooner rather than later.
With that goal in mind, here are the most common scenarios expected this fall, along with some tools that may help at each stage – including sheet music, resource books, classroom PPE, and taxi carts for teachers on the go.
Online/Distance Learning Only or Hybrid Scenarios
Much progress was made in the spring in devising techniques to help students learn at home. However, in the 2020-21 school year the expectations may be higher as the pressure to meet standards increases despite the challenges.
To provide digital sheet music options to students, Pepper has extended its Share Music initiative through December 2020. It allows music directors to virtually share music that has been purchased in the last four years, including new purchases. View a list of currently participating publishers. More information also can be found here.
Here are some other options:
- General distance learning resources: Our Teaching Music Online page includes flexible resources that can be used in both a full virtual music classroom or hybrid situation.
- Digital sheet music: ePrint digital titles are the easiest ones to share. There are a total of 200,000 options, including choral, concert band, orchestra, jazz band, pop tunes for piano, voice, and guitar and piano titles.
- Audio resources for choral: Digital audio downloads can help with the remote rehearsal of choral pieces.
- Sight-singing: Sight-singing and warm-up selections can be used to remotely practice important music skills.
- Theory resources: These resources can be used by all music students.
- Method Books: Our collection of method books can help students learning at home become independent musicians. These include method books for concert band and orchestra, as well as orchestra technique books.
- Suzuki Method: The solos in these books are all available digitally in SmartMusic for practice and assessment.
In-Person Instruction with No Groups
Many of the resources above would work for in-person instruction as well. In addition, there are other resources that can be used for individual in-person work. These include:
- Listening: For general music, there are a number of listening resources available for elementary students. The Pepper website also has music tracks included for most compositions listed online. These can be used for listening assignments.
- Games: Also for elementary students, there are number of classroom games that can help children learn about rhythm, sight-reading and more while remaining in their seats.
- Composition: Secondary students can work on individual composition projects.
- Sign-Language: If you are looking for a way to get students moving, you can incorporate music with sign language.
In-Person Instruction with Small Groups Only
There are a plethora of options for smaller ensembles and for groups that will need flexible instrumentation. Here are just some of these options:
- Small choral ensembles/barbershop style
- Smaller vocal ensembles/duets and trios
- Flexible string ensembles
- Flexible band selections
- Flexible chamber music
- Jazz ensemble with reduced instrumentation
- Jazz combo collections
- Collections and chorales for small bands
- Orchestra options for a tight budget
- Section workout resources for jazz ensembles:
Teachers on the Go and Movable Options
If you are a teacher who has lost your music room because of social distancing or you are regularly on the go, a taxi cart is essential. You may also benefit from having movable presentation carts and a whiteboard on wheels so rooms can be reconfigured for distancing needs in seating. View some options here.
Personal Protection Equipment
There are a number of products that can help with safety. These include face shields and acoustic music stands that can be used as dividers. Plexiglass table dividers will also be available soon in our catalog. View the options here.
If you’d like to share details on how you plan to handle the unique challenges of this upcoming school year, please complete our survey and/or add a comment below. Thank you for your dedication to music education!
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