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Post-Pandemic Planning Guide for Music Education, Vol. 8

Welcome back to your Post-Pandemic Planning Positivity Guide! Our previous guides have been all about getting your program ready for life after COVID. This week, we take a different approach. We know this year has been a challenge. We feel it too! For the final guide, each of the six contributing authors from the MusicEDNow! team will share how they are staying positive, managing fatigue, and preparing for life after COVID-19. In sharing their own techniques, we hope that perhaps you, and your students, may be able to utilize them, too.


Looking Forward to Fall: Time to Thrive!

As music educators we understood that advocating was an essential part of our job even before a world-wide pandemic where aerosol dispersion was unsafe. And because, as music educators, we are resilient in our pursuit to share music with children we have spent over a year finding flexible and ingenuitive ways to keep music education moving forward. Through these challenges we have all learned new ways to reach students outside of our classrooms and have continued to be strong advocates for music education in childrens’ lives.

As we plan for the fall there is no going back, only forward. We now have the opportunity to take our new skills and rebuild music programs that can inspire students as an ensemble and as an individual, with a trombone and a Chromebook, in a room and in a Zoom. Fall of 2021 is the beginning of a new chapter in music education and spoiler alert: It will thrive!

Take a moment to reflect on your accomplishments of the past year, not just the challenges. Think about the skills you have acquired, not just the ones you could not use. Now, add all those skills and accomplishments to all the great work you were doing pre-pandemic and reflect on how much stronger you now are as an educator and an advocate.

You are prepared to thrive, and your current and future students are so lucky to have you.

John Mlynczak

John Mlynczak is vice president of Music Education & Technology for Hal Leonard, a graduate instructor at VanderCook College, and passionate advocate for music education. Learn more at


Make the Most Important Thing, the Most Important Thing

Last March, the world stopped. “Two weeks to flatten the curve” was all we talked about (and Carol Baskins--what does this mean???? Sorry--I must have missed it.). ”Two weeks” became “this fall”. Then fall came and went. Here we are, a year later, just beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

But by being forced out of our rhythms, we were also forced to re-evaluate...well...everything! Our time and priorities shifted. A lot of the change forced upon us was challenging and uncomfortable, as we had to rethink even the simplest tasks. But some of it turned out pretty great, too. I can’t help but appreciate the additional time I had to spend with family and the opportunity to learn new things.

If nothing else, COVID has given us all a new perspective on what’s really most important. In life after COVID, will some of those peripheral things return to our calendars? Sure. But our perspective will be different. I will forever appreciate the simplicity of a hug, dinner with friends, and not having to dodge strangers in the grocery store aisle. (Ok. I may still do that.)

As we turn the page, I hope we all strive to make the most important things in our life, the most important thing. If COVID taught us anything, it’s this: focus on what’s important. The rest? wasn’t that important to begin with.

Nick Averwater

Nick Averwater is the vice president and 4th generation owner at Amro Music, a locally owned and family-operated music store in Memphis, Tennessee. You can follow Nick online as the host of the “After Hours: Conversations for Music Educators” podcast.


Going Back…to the Future When COVID-19 restrictions ease, students and educators must adapt and prepare for a return to schools. All school staff will need to support students in their transition back to the classroom, and at the same time, manage their own transition and anxiety. Below are several resources to help as educators prepare to support this transition, particularly for anxious students. If still teaching virtually, this article from Edutopia will help prioritize your self-care while teaching from home and these 7 tips for returning to school may help educators prepare for the transition back to in-person education. In a blog article written for NAfME by Mara E. Culp and Rachel Roberts, the topic of seeking professional satisfaction during COVID-19 and beyond was addressed in detail. As articulated in the conclusion:

“Teaching music can feel overwhelming and seeking professional satisfaction can help teachers find joy in challenging times. By identifying their particular needs and consulting trusted sources to help set reasonable expectations…music teachers can find fulfillment and better assist their learners for years to come.”

From a different perspective, noted sports psychologist, Dr. Josephine Perry, shares her four secrets from sports psychology, which can be used by any educator who’s setting goals for returning to the classroom.

  1. Being nervous is good. Tell yourself, I am not nervous…I am excited. Reframe your anxiety.

  2. Never do all the work yourself. Learn to let others support you along the way.

  3. Mentally rehearse. Use visualization techniques which can increase motivation, build confidence and increase performance.

  4. Talk to yourself. Self-talk can have a surprising impact on your performance. Think of Ali saying, “I am the greatest!” Tell yourself, “I can!”

Always remember “why” you are teaching music. This highly-circulated quote, penned by an unknown author, is as important today as ever. I teach music …not because I expect you to major in music, …not because I expect you to play or sing all your life, …not so you can relax, …not so you can have fun, but so you will be human, so you will recognize beauty, so you will be closer to an infinite beyond this world, so you will have something to cling to, so you will have more love, more compassion, more gentleness, more good. In short, more LIFE. Marcia Neel Marcia Neel is senior director of education for Yamaha Corporation of America. She is president of Music Education Consultants Inc., and serves as the education advisor to the Music Achievement Council.


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