(photograph taken pre-2020)

Kathy Kucsan, Educator Director and Co-Founder

“Musical instruments played by mouth will not be used this year.” That’s the way one school district in Illinois put it. Around the country, ensembles that include wind instruments are using HEPA filters and custom-designed masks (there is no evidence that these masks provide any protection at all, by the way). There are bell covers for brass instruments, and bags for flutes, saxes and clarinets. (You might wonder, what exactly is a clarinet bag? See our image below.)

The most innovative thing I’ve seen is the photo of band kids in green mini-tents. At first it seems funny, but to me, it’s somewhat heartbreaking. These are some of the ways (besides not playing at all) that schools are dealing with instrumental music this year. I applaud my colleagues for being so creative, and students for being so resilient.

So, what’s next for instrumental music? No one is really sure when “normal” will resume. At the Center for Musical Arts, we’re starting to have students in person again. Slowly, carefully – with attention to distancing, masking, the ubiquitous hand sanitizer – all of the precautions we’ve become so accustomed to over the past year. Many of our teachers have already received vaccines and are eager to get back into the studio.

If you’ve put your instrument aside, it might be time to pick it back up again. If your child missed out on instrumental music at school this year, we can fill in the gap with lessons to keep the motivation going until they can get back into concert bands and jazz combos at school. Individual and small group lessons are fertile ground for learning new techniques and skills, and for reaching new goals. The one-to-one relationships students have with their music teachers creates a foundation for progress, for accomplishment, and for all the benefits that a mentorship provides.

Photo: Wenatchee High School in Washington state

For the rest of the semester, we’ll increase our numbers of in-person lessons. If you play the trombone or flute, you’ll be sitting about eight feet away from your teacher in one of the performance halls. But you’ll be in the same space as your teacher, and not on Zoom! We’re learning as we go, and being cautious along the way. We hope to see you and your wind instrument (not in a bag) at the Center very soon!

As always, I’m happy to answer questions – or even chat about clarinet bags. Drop me a note!