Term 3 recap & looking forward

For all of us at JWA, students and teachers, Term 3 brought challenges, opportunities, and new discoveries. 

Lockdown!

For us, as a small business, the announcement of a lockdown in Sydney came at a bad time, just before the school holidays. Firstly it meant we had to cancel our much-anticipated Winter Jazz Camp. Secondly, a number of students/families seemingly decided to wait until the lockdown was over before booking in for lessons or jazz band for the term. Maybe they assumed it would all be back to normal soon, perhaps they couldn’t face more Zoom lessons, or some other reason. Whatever the cause, the effect for us was of course a hit to our business – a hard blow having just fitted out and moved into new premises!

Sadly for many of those students who paused their participation, I believe, it may mean the end of music for them. Music teachers know that very often ‘just taking a break’ means the end of lessons. That’s sad.

We thank all of you who kept up your enrolment. We appreciate your support, your vote of confidence, your loyalty, and your business. We also salute your commitment to your children’s education and wellbeing. Lockdown inevitably means inconvenience, but it needn’t spell the end of all that is familiar and enjoyable.

Technology

As the lockdown term started we were able to move many of our students to online platforms that enable musicians to play together in real-time (impossible on conferencing apps like Zoom, Skype, and Facetime). By the end of term almost all our jazz combos (small bands) were rehearsing basically as normal, albeit remotely. We used a free program called Jamulus to enable the bands to play together – not playing alone on mute to backing tracks or anything like that, really together. In fact, using a combination of Jamulus and Zoom opened up some exciting possibilities for really efficient rehearsals. Getting set up involved a little bit of extra gear and effort for some, but is definitely worth it. Thanks to all our students/parents who embraced this technology and focused on the benefits and opportunities rather than the small inconvenience.

Using Jamulus we were even able to organise weekly invitational jam sessions for our students. They had to be invitational to control numbers and to ensure jammers were all of a standard and set up for online playing. Quite a few joined in, although I was suprised that more didn’t take up the opportunity given that no one had anywhere to play for more than 12 weeks. It worked really well and was especially good for a very keen core of players who really embraced the idea.

Term 4

Term 4 will almost certainly be online for the first weeks. It seems we will be allowed to move back to in-person lessons later in the term. The information we are getting suggests that teachers and, probably, eligible students, will need to be vaccinated against Covid to come back to face-to-face teaching. Online lessons will remain an option and we will only go back if we are happy we can do it safely. Luckily our new venue on Chandos St has good ventilation, something expert advice suggests is important. New and current students can enrol now for Term 4. If you took a break over last term, all is not lost. You can and should start again if you are still keen to learn jazz.

Summer Jazz Camp

Our Summer Jazz Camp is scheduled for Tuesday 4-Saturday 8 January. Bookings are open with nothing to pay yet – book now! If you book, we will take payments later once we know what format the camp will be. We’re planning a full residential camp, as it should be, but are prepared to adjust according to what is safe and what is permitted by NSW Health. Summer Jazz Camp is always a great experience for students who are into jazz. We are determined for it to go ahead.

Thanks again to all of you who have stuck by us, by your children, and by music throughout Term 3. I also thank our amazing faculty of teachers for their efforts and excellent teaching. While learning online can be awkward, teaching online is really hard and is simply exhausting. Here’s to our teachers.

See you all soon.

Saul Richardson & the JWA team.

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