We'll meet again

by Gwawr McGirr (@gwawrmcgirr)

As lockdown in March 2020 became inevitable I can remember feeling a sense of shock. At times like this – being a musician – I draw on the tremendous resource that is music, and I felt a really strong sense that as a Music Department we should share a few occasional pieces of music to the staff team, to keep people’s spirits up, whilst also providing a means to connect with other staff. My HOD, as ever, was very supportive of the idea and told me to work away!

Our first piece was Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and it got a really great response! I’m not sure what I had been expecting in terms of a response if I’m honest, but, being slightly emboldened, I tried another. Again, the same response and, what had originally been envisioned as a piece on Mondays and Fridays to top and tail the week, began to morph into what eventually became our daily staff ‘Music Slot’.

The format settled into a now familiar routine - choose a weekly theme or genre of music to help me focus my choices, and then find the piece of music in/on a Youtube video and then share the link. Sometimes I accompany the video with a couple of comments on the piece, or the prevailing mood, other times without. Some staff listening ‘like’ the post, or ‘love’ it or, if it was a funny piece, then a laugh emoji – other staff also share their own thoughts on the piece and so it has almost become a virtual staff room – with positivity and banter!

It was and remains difficult to gauge the prevailing mood of staff – and what music they might be in need of at particular times when we are literally miles apart - so I often used my own mood to guide me.

The week before Easter 2020 was particularly hard, as the terrible death toll mounted every day. A sacred choral music theme worked well for us that week, being as we are a proud faith school. At the end of January 2021 everyone was low and rather despondent so there was nothing for it but a theme of music to celebrate teachers.

Other themes have been ‘landscapes’, ‘celebrating black musicians’ as we watched the BLM protests in the US unfold on our screens etc etc. I should probably have kept a playlist somewhere of all the themes and pieces that we got through during both the long lockdown – I might get round to compiling it one quiet day. I have lost literally hours of my life thinking of themes and suitable genres and then searching for ‘the perfect’ youtube video! I extended an invitation to other staff to take the Music Slot for a week and got a great response and to date we have had seven of these ‘Guest Music Slots’. I was delighted that staff and took ownership of the idea, whilst also giving me some time off it!

The moral of the story? Be 10% braver!

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