On March 22nd, just before COVID-19 caused social gatherings of all kinds to be cancelled or postponed, eighteen students under the age of seven performed for their families, classmates, and teachers in the Lewis Eady showroom. The Steinway pianos which usually fill that room were pushed back to the walls all around them, leaving audience and musicians a circle of free space. The young students, dressed to the nines and many performing on stage for the first time, played a range of instruments, including violin, flute, piano, and guitar, while some sang a capella. Adapting to the just-implemented requirements of social distancing, the concert was held in three short segments, allowing audience members for each segment to space themselves out safely.
The concert was a hit and left a warm sociable memory to take into the month of isolation which followed. It’s fitting that this concert, in particular, was able to find appropriate safety measures and occur in time, because its purpose was to build bridges between year levels. In a school environment where the structure of teaching tends to make the different age brackets modular, concerts like this are a valuable way to build connections, both for students, who are introduced to their younger and older peers and for teachers, who are exposed directly and entertainingly to the work of other cohorts.
One teacher described the event as “warm and welcoming, similar to a house concert” and said both their students and the students’ parents had been grateful for the event and really enjoyed it. Another teacher described the event as strange but lovely, with some students sad or confused about being unable to sit with their friends in the audience, and required to keep their distance from the other children performing, but the concert’s small scale making it easy for the students to feel comfortable playing for an audience.
Once isolation is lifted, more concerts will follow: ages eight and nine, ten to twelve, thirteen and over, building more connections across departments and giving students performance experience as well as a series of fun evenings. When the concerts return, it will no longer be necessary to sit apart from friends and the students maybe some new friends to sit with.
– Written by Jack Larsen