There are some things which we hold onto regardless of circumstances. Creativity is a hallmark of the human race: we sing, make music, paint, dance, carve, write, and express ourselves in so many other ways. But, in this time of restriction and pandemic, communal, shared creativity has become very difficult to achieve. People whose lives involve singing together, making music, dancing, talking, can be starved of those things which bring joy to their days.
It is, therefore, a wonderful thing to find that some of our local teachers and purveyors of creativity have found, naturally, creative ways to keep going. They have allowed friends and neighbours to keep singing and dancing, learning to express their own creativity in interesting ways.
Mairéad Frizell has been teaching a group music program called Music for Young Children (see www.myc.com) in her home studio, Tempo Drive Music, in Kemptville since 2013. Many of her students are children ages 3-10, and Mairéad didn’t want them to lose the music because of Covid-19.
“When schools closed just after March break, I decided to take my lessons online using the Zoom conferencing platform. We are nearing our typical summer break and we will be having our very first “virtual recital” online (pre-recorded) via Facebook live (June 5, 6pm!) and YouTube.
Students and families are encouraged to watch the premiere and to invite family members from wherever to join as well”
It was important, Mairéad felt, that the children could keep up with learning and rehearsing, and that they had a goal in view to encourage them.
“Because this is a group program, I knew that my students would be missing each other, and I really missed them too, so I wanted to still get together to share our love of music and to continue to progress in our learning together. I also wanted to be sure they had a goal to work toward (playing at the recital) and to end the year on a high note after so much routine disruption and big changes in their lives.”
In the same way, the Academy of Expressive Dance faced the same kind of challenge when things closed down in March. Academy owner, Andrea Gaw-Prekob, found herself exploring a brave new world on-line.
“Dance Teachers kept mentioning this thing called “Zoom” in their online discussions and messages, so finally I looked it up. As someone who grew up without living every second of their lives on the internet, this whole online thing was definitely overwhelming.”
Although Andrea has been running the Academy for almost thirty years, online dancing proved a totally new experience, for very practical reasons as she explained:
“Dance is such a “group” dynamic that involves spacing, partners, weaving, etc and when you don’t have the other physical bodies there, it can become extremely disorientating and frustrating to practice. On top of which, dance requires space, and not everyone has tons of space at home, nor did all of my students have access to the internet.”
It is difficult to maintain the sense of togetherness that comes from dancing together, and Andrea, along with her intermittent internet, realises that it will not be until everyone can be together again that the real lessons can continue. But, in the meantime, her students can look forward to their anniversary show next year. For Andrea, it is a matter of adapting as much as possible to the current situation.
“All of the classes I taught were at no charge to my students and were totally optional. I will continue to do a few online parties and events for larger groups through zoom, but I am hoping to get back into the studio in the next few weeks using safe distancing, disinfecting, and small groups (under 5).” We are a creative people and we need the chance to find that creativity in ourselves, especially at times of crisis like this. The MyFilm Festival continued, and the finalists are announced elsewhere in this issue.
As the artists, like Mairéad, Andrea, and so many others look for new ways to enable this, the community can be grateful that the vision remains alive.