As our country and much of the planet adjusts to the “new normal” of sheltering in place, many GITC teachers are adjusting to the new reality of teaching and learning online. GITC Board Director of Education, Joan Maute, trains teachers at Laurel Elementary School of Arts & Technology in Fort Collins Colorado. She started her semester as usual, teaching Monday evening face-to-face classes with an enthusiastic group of educators including the school's inspirational principal. Then COVID-19 hit and the class was forced to pivot and transition to an online classroom.
“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, honestly,” Joan explains. “I sent an email to the group saying that we were switching to online instruction and that we’d be meeting at the same time as we had our face-to-face class. I told them that if they had time, I’d love to see them in class but there was no pressure. And you know what? They are ALL showing up now, two weeks in a row!”
Joan has successfully transitioned the class to meeting on JamPlay.com, the finest online hub for GITC instruction. The link about takes you to the registration for GITC teachers and students who are being generously offered a free 3-month membership to JamPlay. Members can choose from a variety of daily live classes, as well as from a series of 66 pre-recorded, sequential guitar lessons taught by GITC founder, Jessica Baron.
Google Chrome is the required browser to navigate well at JamPlay.com. The code to register as one of our teachers or students is GITC3.
Of course, transitioning from in-person strumming to a world of webcams and chat-rooms can be daunting for some and the learning curve is real. GITC faculty trainers and participating teachers and school staff members are rising to the occasion and working through the bumps together.
“I’m learning,” says Joan. “I’m learning how to get the right angles on camera and learning to adapt. What we do first is go around and check in -- most are comfortable checking in by video but not all. I tell them either is fine. Then when we are moving on to our first song, I ask if they are ready, and if they are, they put an exclamation point in the chat. It’s fun to see all the exclamation points pop up. They can also put a question mark in the chat if they have a question. It’s kind of a balancing act, trying to do the teaching AND follow what’s happening in the chat, but it’s also funny because sometimes the teachers will answer each other’s questions.”
Kindergarten teacher, Emily Anderson, says the online platform took some getting used to but is now easy to manage. “I like that we can all be on mute and practicing as we need without everyone listening,” she explains. “We have the option to share when we are ready.”
Fourth grade teacher, Catherine Thomsen is using the experience as an opportunity to grow and challenge herself. “I had a hard time getting into the site initially, however that was my issue,” Catherine explains. “Also, I have had to really work to overcome the fact that online learning is not the best mode for me. That was even true when I was in college. This is an opportunity for me to gain more confidence in this learning environment.”
Participants are quickly learning, however, that online classes provide something even more important than the lessons themselves, and that is the innate human connection that comes along with playing music together.
“It is a great outlet, a great way to still collaborate with others, and a nice break in my remote teaching day when it is something just for me,” explains Emily.
Catherine Thomsen agrees. “Music offers hope and is a universal language we can all connect with. It helps to calm fears and anxiety.”
Joan Maute is enjoying watching her students challenge themselves, support one another, and grow in their musicianship. She is also seeing the magical effects GITC programming is having on some of the family members quarantining with her students!
“Last week, one of the teachers -- her kids are home -- so she and her son wrote an amazing song about Corona [virus] and it had a great line like ‘when it’s all over, we’ll hug, hug, hug!’ And she was playing and singing and her two sons were singing backup for her. It was amazing!” gushes Joan.
So is she in it for the long haul? Absolutely! “There’s really great interaction,” she continues. “It’s so good to see everyone’s names pop up in the chat. Even if we’re just seeing people’s names, it’s just good to be together.”
Click HERE to see a larger version of the full updated schedule of GITC online classes.