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May 2020 Update

Posted in Teaching

Hi all! I just wanted to do an update on how things are going with me, and what I’m going to be doing going forward for the next few months.

So, I am taking two weeks off – next week and the week after (that’s from private lessons) I still plan to be running the OmniArts groups, but if that changes I will email all the regular members to let them know. The reason I’m taking this time off is because I really really need it. And I’m also really grateful that I’ve actually been granted government financial assistance with the self-employed help, which has absolutely given me … it’s just taken a weight off my shoulders honestly, it has helped me breathe, and it’s given me a chance to take a breath to reset myself, which I very very much needed, so I can continue to give my students the best of me, and give them the best lessons I can.

So over the next two weeks I am going to be resting, I am going to be resetting, I’m going to be catching up on some things that have got on top of me – like the state of my house – because teaching online has taken up more time than teaching in person – for various reasons. I’m also going to be looking at how I have coped with lessons online so far, and how I want to continue going forwards with lessons online. This may mean that I decide to operate on a reduced timetable for lessons. If this is the case, I will be contacting all my private students to explain my plan. My main goal with lessons is always to offer the best I possibly can. So if I am not feeling up to scratch, then I can’t offer the best of me. So that’s why I am wanting to take this time to really think about it, and really understand how I can offer the best of me.

There’s been much discussion in the singing teacher community about going back to in-person lessons – and particular for choirs and things (which at this point, I feel quite glad that I don’t run a choir honestly, because it is a big big headache for a lot of singing teachers and choir leaders) For me, I can’t see it (face to face lessons) happening in the next few months. A lot of the information coming from scientists is that when you’re singing, the virus can travel further – which makes perfect sense, you know, we’re using a lot more breath – the droplets are going to be able to travel further. So even if you’re two metres away, if you’re singing, it’s just not a safe distance, as it is for talking and what have you.

Online lessons have been going really really well. I know it’s an adjustment, but I have seen an incredible, amazing growth in all my students online – as much as I do in person – and for some people more online! I feel some of my students have really really grown, and learned so much in the last few months through their lessons. I teach a whole range of students – of all ages, and so I need to consider every single one of those before I go back to teaching in person, and if there is even the chance that one student might bring in the virus, and I might then pass it on to another, it’s not an option for me.

What this lockdown has done is open up the possibility of teaching online, which I think is amazing, and I can 100% hand and heart say that I feel all of my students are getting just as good a quality lesson from me online as they do in person. So this means that going forwards after lockdown, I will be able to continue offering lessons online (if wanted). It will give flexibility for students wanting to stay with me when they go to university for example, or if there are students that struggle to actually get to me in person because of travel arrangements, or maybe just that they live further away from me than is (reasonable) travel distance. So I’m really really grateful that that has become an option now, and I can 100% say that those lessons are just as valuable – you get just as much out of them. I am able to teach you just as well online as in person.

It’s also opened up the opportunity to set up online groups, which we’ve done through OmniArts. We’ve got our GCSE drama group, and I’ve got the Musical Theatre college level group. I’ve also got the Singing for Fun For All group and the Adult Queer Theatre group – all of which have been really really successful online – and continue to be really successful online. We are hoping to try and continue some of these after lockdown as well. The Queer Theatre group is absolutely continuing after lockdown – Ellie who runs it – and myself who-I own the company – have loads of plans for what that group can become, and it is exciting! So if you are age 16 and up and want to get involved with Queer Theatre, please get in touch because the group is just amazing. It is such a safe space, it is so welcoming, and it’s just so heartwarming to see amazing people coming together, sharing stories and creating art. So yeah, that one is definitely going to be continuing. I know that our GCSE group and the Musical Theatre group have expressed an interest in continuing after lockdown, which is something I would love to do, so that is something that we’re looking at as well. The singing for fun group on a Saturday, which I’m continuing with – that’s something I’m going to be thinking about over the next two weeks, and it might be that I decide to take that down to a fortnightly rather than a weekly, but again, I will let all of the regulars know by email and we’ll post out on the OmniArts group (social media) as well.

So that’s basically an update of where I’m at. I just want to say thank you so so much to everyone who has continued with their lessons, who has supported me emotionally by reaching out and checking I’m okay as well. It means the world to me, it really does, and I’m so grateful and happy that I can continue doing what I love, and I’ve been able to continue doing what I love over the last few months. So yeah, and I feel really grateful that I’ve had that financial assistance given to me as well, which means that I can now take some time. The last few weeks honestly have just been quite full on, and I will be talking more about that in the near future. As you know, I’m very open about the fact that I attend therapy, and I want to be as authentic as I can – be me – and share everything about me – because I think as a teacher, as a mentor I want to be able to say to my students, look – this is what a human is.

So I have found the transition to online teaching has been an additional challenge which has really stretched my abilities, and so being able to take some time off now is really helpful, and it’s very likely that I will be taking some more time off. My plan is to basically take these two weeks off, and then go back to teaching for hopefully maybe about four weeks, and then take some more time off after that, just so that I can recalibrate myself a little bit more – because as I’m sure all of you are experiencing, lockdown has brought up different things for everybody, and sometimes it takes time to work through those things.

So yes, I’m still here for all of my students. I’m here. I’m on the end of an email. I am all about supporting you and doing what I can to help people, so I’m absolutely still here on the end of an email, or a direct message, or a text if you’ve got my number. Just please be aware that I may not respond straight away, and I will respond when I can. If you really really need someone to reach out to – tell me – like tell me how urgent it is for me to reply, and I will get back to you. So yeah, thank you so much. And yeah, I hope you’re all looking after yourselves – it’s weird times, it’s difficult times, and sometimes we have to take a break, and that’s what I’m doing. So, please look after yourself as well. And yes, I will update you on other stuff at some point in the near future.