From the President

by Lisa Schoen

December 2020

Dear SongWorks Educators,

How are you? Are you hanging in there? I hope and pray you are staying healthy and holding on to the positive during these challenging days.

Many of us, including myself, have recently transitioned to distance learning. Even though we knew it was coming this time, the emotions and exhaustion that come with this kind of adjustment can still be very overwhelming.

As challenging as this has been, I have never been more certain that our SongWorks Principles are right on the mark. Principle 7 states that our “quality of life is enriched through music and singing.” What we are doing to bring music to children, whether it is in person or online, is more important than ever.

I am grateful for the many SongWorks mentors that have poured into so many of us over the years. These amazing educators have given us the tools to be able to do this job, and do it well, even when it seems impossible.

Because of Peggy Bennett, I had already been in the habit of looking at my students with “soft eyes.” Now I find myself gazing at that green camera dot on my laptop and imagining my students so I can express warmth with my eyes and facial expressions on video.

Terolle Turnham and Marty Stover’s sage advice to “give directions using seven words or less” still holds true, even in a video lesson! I am so thankful for how these women have trained up so many of us to be intentional with our language and careful about how we phrase our questions and feedback!

“The voice cannot go on demand where it has never gone before,” whispers Anna Langness’s voice in my head, as I think about how I will get my students singing from a distance.

Marilyn Winter’s subtle and skillful way of offering student choices within the context of a lesson is now more important than ever, especially when so many are feeling like they have no control over their circumstances.

Listen, baby, ain’t no mountain high,
Ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough, baby.
If you need me, call me, no matter where you are,
No matter how far, don’t worry, baby.
Just call my name, I’ll be there in a hurry.
You don’t have to worry.

‘Cause baby, there ain’t no mountain high enough,
Ain’t no valley low enough,
Ain’t no river wide enough,
To keep me from getting to you, babe.

Throughout my planning and my teaching, I have been calling to mind the playfulness, positivity, sense of humor, creativity, and genius of so many of our cherished SongWorks friends. How blessed we are to have these dear mentors who have guided us over the years! I think back to the last day of summer class so many years ago when Peggy taught us movement to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.

The poignant lyrics struck a nerve with me that day, and still bring back a little lump in my throat whenever I hear them. They remind me that I am not alone! You are not alone. In Peggy’s words, SongWorks teachers “really do like each other!” I am so thankful for this group of caring individuals who have built us all up over the years, for such a time as this, when our students need us more than ever.

I hope you know you are cared for and remembered, even in this time of isolation. I look forward to gathering in a few months to laugh, learn, and make music at our virtual conference. Aimee Newman has been working tirelessly to create a beautiful experience for us. Look for registration information after the first of the year!

I look forward to reconnecting with you!

Lisa Schoen

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