When school is out, music is in

by Julie Coppens, educational outreach coordinator for Cincinnati Public Radio

Hey there, parents and caregivers: you've suddenly all become deputy music teachers! With classes dismissed, music lessons and rehearsals canceled, and concerts postponed indefinitely, many of our students are missing out on an essential part of their education (we might say the most essential part, but then we're biased): music.

Time to call in the cavalry–Classics for Kids. (Maybe start by listening to our episode about the William Tell Overture.) The fun activities and rich archive of inspiring programs on this website, plus our round-the-clock broadcasts on 90.9 WGUC, can help you keep the learning going at home, while keeping a "Handel" on your sanity. Speaking of George Frideric Handel, his epic oratorio Israel in Egypt includes some wonderfully vivid musical representations of the Biblical plagues, which might offer some perspective. Strange as the present moment feels to us, widespread epidemics were a fact of life for many of the great composers of the past. Then as now, music was an outlet and a refuge–a way to connect with our fellow humans in the face of isolating forces.

In addition to Cincinnati Public Radio's two main educational programs, WGUC's Classics for Kids and WVXU's Democracy & Me, we're pulling together scores of resources and tips for families affected by school closures. You'll find a growing list, as well as an invitation for creative young people in grades 8-12 to enter our Democracy & Me 2020 Student Voices Competition, on that website.

A few other helpful links for music-loving families who are "hunkering down":

First, just breathe. ArtsWave is providing free, 10-week subscriptions to the public for Mindful Music Moments, a wonderful series of brief, daily meditations for all ages.

Organizations and artists across the country and around the world are now hosting regular "Live" events on Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms to encourage families to make and enjoy music together at home. A couple of Cincinnati groups jumping on the bandwagon are Linton Chamber Music and their popular Peanut Butter &Jam Sessions, with kids' programming at 10 a.m. EDT Monday-Saturday; and Melodic Connections, hosting Lunchtime Live! at noon EDT each weekday. Tune in and rock out! 

The education team at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is sharing new activities each day, "Sound Discovery" videos with teaching artist Liz Wu, and other ideas for musical exploration at home.

Here's a video of practical and technical tips for remote music lessons via Skype, etc. Your kids should have plenty of time now to practice!   

The world's orchestras and operas are streaming a ton of free performances right now. Here's a list.

You'll find a wealth of music-ed films, interactive lessons, and more at PBS Learning Media.

This is an excellent time for students to try electronic composition, with the help of some cool free synth apps.

Let's take a trip! Here's a roundup of virtual museum tours around the world, from Travel + Leisure. You might challenge your student to select music to match the different journeys and scenes.

And the Cincinnati Zoo is taking families on a virtual safari every day at 3 p.m., on their Facebook page. First up (who else?): Fiona!   

The best educational advice we're hearing this week, though, is simple: relax, listen to your students, and look at the big picture. As Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said over the weekend, we can work together to keep kids learning, fed, and taken care of through these extraordinary times, and if certain tests don't get taken, or certain curricular goals aren't achieved, "it won't be the end of the world."

I hope you'll reach out, tell us how things are going so far in your home school, and how we can help. You can send us a comment, or drop me an email: jcoppens@cinradio.org. Like most of our Cincinnati Public Radio staff who aren't actively broadcasting, I'm working from home now, "socially distant" but musically and spiritually right there with you. I know our host, Naomi Lewin, and everyone here at Classics for Kids feels the same.

Be well, and keep listening.