My 4 year old son Oliver, which most of you know all about has had a hard time that last few nights with calming down and going to sleep. Several times now we have put him in the car to drive around so that he would calm down and fall asleep. Last night, my wife told me that she and he drove around a golf course and he started crying when he saw golf carts. My wife said he was crying because he wanted to go on a golf cart ride. He stays with my parents during the school day and they go on golf cart rides often. While he’s a little young to completely understand what’s going on in the world, he keeps saying “When the virus is gone….” It seems so simple, but his reaction to the golf carts and his rhetoric about the virus is deeply reflected in many of us in one way or another.
The last time I saw all my students in person was roughly 6 weeks ago. A typical summer is about 8 weeks away from students. Each summer I go 8 weeks or more without seeing students.. so why is this 6 weeks right now so difficult? Of course the answer is closure… when we end for summer vacation it’s the build up through a spring concert, band banquet, we put a cap on the end of a year and look forward to starting fresh. We haven’t gotten that this year.. and I’m not sure we’re going to get that chance. Usually at this time of the year I would begin writing my end of year speech for band banquet… I’m sure I will do something like that but right now… I just miss seeing you.
I miss seeing you all waiting for me outside the band room door when I arrive slightly closer to 8 AM. I miss hearing you banter and goof around with each other before school starts and I miss overhearing the latest gossip and then having to pretend I don’t have a clue. I miss seeing the same two people always come in late to class. Yes, it’s frustrating… but I also know that they’re choosing to give their time to what we do and that ultimately they mean well. I miss telling you to sit up and hold the instrument correctly (trumpets!) during warm ups where half of you are still asleep. I won’t pretend to miss the eye rolling in response to that request but at least when you roll your eyes, I know you were listening to what I said. I miss playing cup ball. I miss the conversations during e-block about everything from serious discussions about what you are doing after high school to wondering whether flexseal and flextape actually work. I miss the memes on the board and how someone goes and changes the titles of all the pieces on the board to slightly different versions of the same songs. Porch of Liberty and Linguini were my favorites.
While I could talk about how I miss making music with you, how I miss seeing you progress as a student and all that entails; the truth is that I miss the relationships we had more than the musical output. While we can do that indirectly through “distance learning”, it’s evident that we all handle that differently. Some of you are thriving with the freedom distance learning gives you, which is awesome to see. Some of you are falling far behind and that makes me sad. I want to help you but without face to face contact, there is very little I can do to make you login and check your assignments or read your email, some of you will never look at this message. I hope some of you will change that for the better in these last weeks of school but for some I’m sure you’re just overwhelmed.
I worry about you all. I worry about how you’re handling all this. I worry for those of you I know that their parent has to work 12 hour shifts while you’re home alone by yourself. I worry about whether you’re making choices you wouldn’t make if we were in school. All of these immediate worries are compacted by worries about the future… are we going back in the fall? Most likely, but we don’t know for sure. Selfishly I worry if all the work I am beginning to do for marching band and Foothills Invitational is just going to be wasted time on my part? If we don’t go back to school.. who on earth would take virtual band?
However despite all the worry I have ultimately I know that things will work out the way they’re meant to work out. There is little I can do to change the future of this situation. All I can do is pray and to strive to make the best choices I can for myself and my family and those students I serve. At leadership camp we talk about servant leadership. Yes, I am accountable to my bosses and my school system to provide work/assignments/instruction but none of that matters in comparison to what I can try to do to help you each deal with this situation as best you can. If there is anything I can do to help you… please let me know. Thus far during the pandemic I have helped with math homework, walked students through repairing their computer, had conversations about how to deal with time management on your own, arranged for food to be delivered to a students house, arranged for a power bill to be paid for a student’s family, and so many other things that go beyond the realm of “band director.” That isn’t me trying to brag or anything, it’s just simply to show that life has to be come before work. Please let me know if I can help you in any way.
I miss you all.