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Community over Perfection

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

Teaching in the midst of a global pandemic has brought about challenges and joys that I could have never imagined. In the face of substantial loss and devastation, individuals and institutions have become increasingly creative and generous, students have become more flexible, teachers have lifted us all up. We have become connected in ways I have never seen: virtual ensemble recordings, entire online private studios, masterclasses and family gatherings all done through Zoom. Humanity always grows and adapts and I believe that is done by working together.


We are all actively processing the state of the world and navigating what daily headlines mean in all of our individual lives. Working with students in public schools and in private lessons, it is sometimes hard to know if the student's demeanor is due to an anxiety-filled day/week/month or if it is due to more contextual challenges. The question I believe every teacher has been faced with in 2020 is, "How far do I push this student right now?"

After many conversations with friends and colleagues about our experiences teaching and being students this year, it seems like the value of community is greater than the value of a perfect practice session or really fast paced private lesson with a student. Students are enjoying music in public school because for many of them, that is the only part of their life that makes them feel like a part of a bigger whole.


As a teacher I feel like I get to cultivate curiosity and interest by capitalizing on the sense of community over the more technical side of what I do. It is a very fine line to walk, and it is vital that we all continue to grow during this time. Every student wants to be seen -- they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I think, during this impossible time, that we should stop demanding perfection from our students and simply work together to enjoy music and grow along the way. The balance is tricky, but it is the most important part of what we do.




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photos courtesy of Nicole Monahan and Josh Gagnon