In early June of 2020 I sat through my very last faculty meeting via zoom in my basement workshop. I had already cleaned out the art room, I wrapped up the students work, and said goodbye to them virtually. I had quit my job, and I was having some regrets.
In the school where I worked, if you were a departing faculty member, someone would say a few words in your honor. I think it is safe to say that we all, as a staff, looked forward to the last faculty meeting together. We ate lunch together, we got to see everyone from all campuses, we would talk and share our summer plans. and most importantly, we would listen to speeches about the departing faculty and staff. It was a time of celebration for the years events, and as the people person I am, I just loved it. Since we were at the start of the pandemic, this year it was held virtually. It was awkward. It didn't feel right to say goodbye to so many people through my computer screen, but that's what I did.
The meeting ended and the headmaster referencing the upcoming 2020-2021 school year by saying: There will be no singing. Of course there wouldn't be. How could there be? You can't sing in public during a pandemic. You can't raise your voice and push sound out from your diaphragm. The realization hit home that one of the core things that makes people happy, will be removed from our lives. It was at that moment that I felt fear for peoples emotional and mental wellbeing, as well as my own. I was fearful that without kids being able to sing, the world would just fall apart. (Yes, I am very dramatic) No church choirs, no concerts to look forward to, no karaoke bars, no kindergartners dancing in music class clapping and singing silly songs, no joy, no fun. I think that was when my sadness around the pandemic really sat with me and stayed for awhile. I guess, it's the idea of taking away something I value and hold in the highest regard. Something I value as much as being creative and authentic. No singing means no happiness for many.
So, anyway, at the end of the meeting, I clicked "leave meeting" and that was it.
Over the summer, I visited Upcycle Parts Shop for the very first time. It was there I found a curriculum created by a vocal music teacher from 1946. In this binder, there were typed notes and articles. It was through these images and texts, combined with my sadness around leaving my job, missing my music teacher friends, missing live concerts, and singing karaoke that this series of work was created.
As an update...my music teacher friends found a way. Through virtual church choirs, setting up a tent on the grounds of a school, creating a concert live on social media. They are working hard to keep singing from going away completely this year. They are doing are great job.