As the Mask Mandate came to an end this past Saturday August 7th, we are moving to a optional mask policy (like we did last year at this time).
Teaching in general, and music in particular, is very difficult for both the teacher and the student. Pronouncing the names of the musical alphabet is dicey. The letters BCDE and G all rhyme and the masks make seeing the lips and hearing the consonants next to impossible. It is hard to show emotion, encouragement or humour with just just words and eye brows. Having said, staff is not discouraged from wearing a mask and neither are students. It is about making your own decisions and your comfort level. I’ll remind you, we have windows we can open (when it’s not smoking hot) in 2 rooms and plexiglass barriers. We also had a new HVAC system installed last year dedicated to our unit only. At no point in the pandemic did anyone associated with the River Heights School of Music contract a case of COVID-19.
Not Checking Your Vaccine Status
As well we have not and will not be asking anyone about their vaccine status. On top of having serious doubts about the security of the QR scanner app that ANYONE can download, We have serious doubts about the legality of asking medical questions of any sort.
If You Are Sick
If there is one aspect of ‘normal’ this pandemic has brought us that we’d like to retain it’s stay home if you are sick. We now have great familiarity with online teaching and, while not perfect, is a great fill in. So if the student, parent or whomever is sick, you can stay home and have your lessons online. Very few students have preferred it over in person, but to have one here and there is a great way to not miss a lesson and not have to deal with the inconvenience of the make up lesson.
Speaking of Summer. If the province meets it’s vaccine targets (with line ups around the corner and vaccine shortages) we should be able to offer in person classes in the summer. That means those of you that put your lessons on hold (and didn’t take the video option) can make up your classes in July and August. It also means those of you that signed up for summer classes can choose to have in-person lessons, remain online or a combination.
If you have not registered for September you can still do it but it is now open to anyone
Manitoba government has, yet again, decided to forgo science and make restrictions against small businesses.
Out of one side of his lawyer doctor mouth Brent Roussin said that private indoor gatherings were driving the ‘3rd wave’ on the other side of his lawyer doctor mouth he closed off ALL activities for kids.
Anyone of us walking a dog can see which house in our neighbourhood is having or getting ready to have a party.
So instead of ramping up enforcement with by law officers to cruise neighbourhoods for those obvious signs, instead of ticketing 100% of the attendees to those rallies and protests, they have elected to cancel haircuts, soccer, music lessons, dance, theatre, backyards, etc.
Malls and big box stores?? Still open.
Ironically the by law bullies are still coming to our school to make sure our front desk person (who is wearing a mask behind plexiglass) is still wearing a mask.
They did that on the 2 Saturdays in a row that there were ‘freedom’ rallies at the forks.
Our business has produced zero cases of covid
Zero days lost to covid
Most teachers vaccinated or have an appointment.
Most of our students are kids still going to school.
Many of our students are adults who have been vaccinated (including doctors and nurses)
Despite that, we are forced to convert all to video lessons until ‘they’ say otherwise.
I guess you all remember March Break 2020! A time of induced fear and uncertainty. Fast forward to today and I’d like to believe there is more hope and planning for the future than there is fear and loathing. I believe progress triumphs most of the time but, there is a part of me that is reminded that hope doesn’t sell as well as fear and that can, and has, led down a bad path.
So here’s to hope!
The office will be closed for both in-person and on-line lessons from March 27th until April 4th.
As part part of our belief in progress and hope, we signed another long term lease and are doing a major overhaul of our music lessons spaces!
Music Recital 2021
while I am hopeful for a summer of travel, sports and family gatherings, I am doubtful we will be able to present a Student Recital this year. The very nature of the event makes that seem unlikely combined with all the major churches reluctance to even have in-person religious services. I am not interested in Facebook or Zoom recital. We have this in June on a Sunday and I’d rather have our students out in the sunshine rather than standing in front of a screen. We will wait until we can legally do it.
They said they didn’t ‘think’ it applied to us. But they didn’t know. They said that music schools were using this as a loophole. They went away to confirm with a supervisor. The supervisor didn’t know.
So you have some officers and official’s trying to enforce rules they aren’t clear about, while guessing at the 36 page document’s intent and entering and harassing businesses they aren’t sure are even breaking a rule.
Before leaving they threatened fines if WE couldn’t prove our right to be open.
Let me say that again, I was told to prove to them I wasn’t guilty of a crime.
These are bylaw officers. Last year at this time they where writing tickets to home owners for shoveling snow into the street and today they are trying to crush small businesses’ by making up rules.
We have been open for in-person music lessons for all of code red. The majority of our clients opted for video but some, for various reasons including;
new to music
underpowered internet at home
multiple kids doing lessons
opted for in-person music education.
As you can imagine, after the encounter with these bylaw ‘officers’, I was pretty stressed out. I spent the weekend researching. I was sleeping poorly and not able to enjoy my rare time off.
I woke up early on Monday and started calling gov’t offices. One of the answers I got was “Music Lessons are not to be taught at this time” I asked the Manitoba Health rep (who would not give her full name) what the date of that statement was. She said she could not tell the date. I asked where this statement was located for me to read and she said it was their own data base for internal use only.
So let me say that another way. They have a secret/hidden from the public set of rules.
After hearing this; I went from stressed with fear for my students, teachers and livelihood to mad as hell!! I spent the rest of the morning spamming govt’ officials about this and then the media. By 2pm I had completed 1 TV interview. You can watch the news story here. and one newspaper interview which you can read here.
Whilst all this was going on, a reporter who works for the same station that did my on air interview, asked Dr Roussin about music lessons. Now this guy has a law degree as well as a medical degree so he answered like a lawyer, deflected and was a little vague but ‘sort of’ said music lessons were ok but made it out like music lessons for kids was on the same footing as getting a tattoo or pedicure.
Not Good Enough
So while the off handed answer and remark (like so many this guy has done, like when he turned every back yard in the city into an indoor space and ineligible for gatherings) made fines unlikely, this isn’t good enough for me.
We are education. We prepare musicians for university auditions. We helps kids with thier school music work, we supplement kids music curriculum and we are the music program for home schoolers, we have delivered music courses for charter schools and done in school classes.
To top it off our year end receipts are used to get an educational arts tax credit from the provincial government.
I mentioned my many emails to variously related govt departments because today I got not only confirmation that I was right but an apology.
Thank you for your message, which has been referred to Manitoba Government Inquiry for a response.
As Manitobans continue to work towards a safe, measured and cautious reopening, provincial public health officials regularly review existing health orders to ensure they continue to accurately reflect their intended purpose.
Consequently, after further review public health officials can confirm that one-on-one tutoring and individualized music and arts instruction is permitted at business facilities under Schedule item 75, “a business that provides tutoring or other individualized educational instruction” and includes registered home-based businesses.
We are sorry to hear about the circumstances that have prompted you to contact us, and empathize with the frustration and added stress placed on you.
Please let us know if you have any further questions.
Manitoba Government Inquiry
Communication Services Manitoba
I should also note, that because we were not required to close, we did not take any of the code red funding. Business’ that decided to close were not eligible and may be liable or forced to repay.
The next Saturday, the exact same officers came to our business. They said we were good to go on lessons (like we already knew) but promised/threatened to come back everyweek to check on us. Really, we’re doing nothing wrong but you’re going to check on us? Isn’t there a multi-national corporation in town to check up on? Are you only targeting small businesses because you can bully them?
We recognize that many of you want to limit your trips out of the house and so we can switch you to (or start you on) video classes for the duration. Here is a link to making your video experience better Getting the Most out of your Video Lessons If you wish to continue with your in-person do nothing. If you want to convert to video lesson or start lessons of any kind, just call or send us an email.
In these 2 weeks leading up to March Break we are going to continue with lessons as usual. We will continue the same way after March Break. Private music lessons are among the safest of activities to participate in at anytime. Our rooms are large enough for ‘social distancing’ with only 2-3 people in a room.
The Waiting Area
We do ask that you not crowd the waiting area, come up stairs if you want but just let your child in the school or, in the case of adult students, just come in. If you need to wait nearby you can wait in the hall. If you see the waiting room is occupied, please wait till it clears
I am going to be honest, clear and blunt here with you; we have 9 years of experience dealing with kids coming to lessons sick. I have lost count of the number of times some student was too sick to go to school but was still sent to music lessons. Now (and anytime of the year) if you or your child is sick, stay at home. We have had disinfectant wipes in every room for 9 years. All of us here have been doing self-employed “gig economy” since before it became a catch phrase. Teachers and staff are constantly wiping down the pianos and contact surfaces. If we get sick, we don’t get sick days. We are incredibly invested in cleaning our work spaces, always have been, always will be.
If any of our students gets sick they should stay home. If they test for C-19 they should stay home. We do offer make-ups for serious illness, always have, always will. If you feel fine but are part of a self/family isolation we will have live video lessons available at your regular time with your regular teacher.
We have no plans to cancel the recital, suspend lessons or close up shop. We want to continue providing music lessons for our students, provide employment for our teachers and staff while keeping every body’s health a priority. I thank you in advance for your patience and calmness as we navigate through these days together.
One of the many benefits of our music school is the ability to give you a wide range of teachers based on age and gender. In our modern world these things are not supposed to mater. In truth, things like the age or gender of a qualified teacher (the only kind we have) has no bearing on how well a student does. Yes there can be issues around comfort levels. (retirees not wanting lessons from a 20-something, teens not wanting to be in a room with an oldster, general parents fear) but, in the long run, a qualified teacher and an attentive, respectful student are a team to making the student a better musician.
Another myth that has recently been debunked is ‘learning style’
Here is a great article on the topic of myths around the normal brain.