General GCSE Extra Curricular CPD

Making Christmas Merry

It has been one heck of a term but I can assure you that what you are doing is Making Christmas Merry. If you are operating music outside of your classroom, or teaching great lessons int he classroom, you are making a difference.

Christmas Music

I miss the usual routine of Christmas in school. The lights switch on event, busking in shops and of course putting on carol services. I normally have 4 large scale carol services to organise and then numerous events. Over the years we have enjoyed playing in Windsor castle, entertaining local dignitaries at events and bringing to life the late night shopping in town.

And I would love to be doing that rather than filming lots of things! Now don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed filming lots of music. But it isn’t the same and we all know it. But what it is, is something. In the midst of everything that we have been through, we are doing something to bring some of the normality of the season to the homes of our students. We are Making Christmas Merry by sharing the music that is going on in school.

But my heart does go out to all music teachers out there who have had to be come audio & visual technicians all the while teaching in the classroom. Navigating video editing software and learning how to use microphones has been a steep learning curve for so many. But we are doing the right thing where we can, and we are doing our best. And frankly if you aren’t doing any of that then you are still doing a great deal more than I am sure could be expected of you.

Music Teachers are made for this

Music Teachers are made for such a time as this. We are used to adapting, adopting and innovating. Music Teachers know how to put on events, virtual or in person, and we are aware of the power of technology. We know what makes the students tick and we know how to get the best out of them. Music Teachers are made for this season because we do all have such unique skill sets. So I think that is a big pat on the back. I have seen all over twitter that music teachers are amazing. Looking at the classroom images posts on Facebook groups, I am in awe of the sector and I think that music teachers are great.

So remember, on these dark lonely nights, we are doing a great job and we are doing a tough job. We won’t get it all right, but we were built for this. We have the power to change the lives of students and we have adapted so well in this crazy year that has been 2020.

12 Tips for Christmas

I do worry though that we are not always aware of the impact all of this has on our own lives and wellbeing. It is all very well producing a virtual event, but it is time consuming and involves staring at a screen a lot. So I have been thinking about Christmas and hopefully my 12 Tips for Christmas will give you food for thought

  1. Don’t do any work. You may say, but I need to be ready for January. You do need to be ready, you. The rest will happen and we have worked hard this term.
  2. Walk every day. I have been doing this since getting a puppy and I couldn’t go a day without getting out and enjoying the fresh air.
  3. Share something positive on a Facebook group, twitter post or instagram. Then close it and don’t spend too much time on Social Media.
  4. Listen to great music, the music you want to listen to. I can find myself getting slightly fed up of carols, so I tend to try and find something else! It is never too late to get into opera of course!!
  5. Seek out a colleague at work and give them a gift. It could be something small like a cup of tea when they have a long day or a bottle of wine. Doing something like this makes a difference and I have felt the first hand joy of someone doing it to me.
  6. For goodness sake don’t check your email, at least until after Christmas. It can wait and sometimes just one email can ruin everything! Again, I speak from experience.
  7. If you have made a virtual concert video, then remember that criticism may come, but it is likely to be small compared to the praise.
  8. Unplug and have a Digital detox, it is the best thing to do and so powerful for the soul! Twitter can wait, and if you really want to then you can schedule some posts over Christmas for your followers.
  9. Clear your desk and inbox before you leave next week, that way it is tidy when you return.
  10. Eat loads of great food, and wine also helps. But enjoy the season when it comes to eating! Diets can wait and the running can start in January!
  11. Watch all the old movies and Christmas specials. They will make you laugh and feel all warm inside. Disney+ seems to have every Christmas movie that you need, expect maybe Elf?
  12. And finally remember to be kind to yourself in all ways.

Making Christmas Merry

This year more than any other year I have seen the power of Music Education. I have seen it unite people on zoom, inspire people online and completely change the way that we do things. We have all been Making Christmas Merry by simply trying to cope & provide in this difficult time. Whatever you have done for your students is absolutely amazing. You have looked at what you can do and you have done it. My videos I am making won’t win me an Oscar, but they have been fun and they have brought the students together with a common purpose.

And so we look forward to next year and all the events that we will hopefully be allowed to do. But I don’t ever want to forget the year that reminded me yet again that Music Teaching is the greatest job in the world. It sometimes consumes you, but it always rewards you. And if I have learnt one thing it is that students do appreciate it and they do need it, every single one of them! And in the words of Shakin’ Stevens:

It’s the season
Love and understanding
Merry Christmas everyone

I hope you have a great Christmas and I look forward to more blogs in 2021! And I am sure I will blog again at some point!

Merry Christmas!

1 comment

  1. Thank you James, just what I needed today as a solo HoD in a large sixth form where no group music making, or instrumental lessons have been allowed this term. Solos behind screens and distanced boomwhackers are all that has been possible in a radically altered timetable, plus virtual rehearsals and video projects that a) not many have gotten involved with and b) take up lots of tech time and effort! So the deadline to submit videos of Troika is today and there aren’t many so far… but your words have convinced me that I’ve helped the ones who have been involved – thank you and Merry Christmas!

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