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Pack it up, pack it in...

Let me begin…by saying I am so grateful to the Bavarian Bierhaus for the rental agreement that enabled me to safely teach in person this Spring, Summer and Fall. As I packed up my supplies for the final time this past week, preparing to move into my new indoor studio for the final 4 weeks of Fall Session, my heart was jam packed with a mix of emotions: Joy, gratitude, sadness, loss, laughter… At that first class in April, I was so excited to make music with real, live people once again, but so concerned about how it would all go. After just a few classes, it was clear that this was going to go just fine – that the safety precautions of being masked outdoors made transmission close to impossible. And it felt so good to do what I love to do in person once again.

But that joy was balanced with a deep sense of loss. When I saw the chubby faces of babies grown into toddlers…I also imagined the year I missed watching those babies grow up. Or, when I met tiny siblings in place of the toddlers who are now preschoolers and phased out of class, I thought about how I was robbed of that year together…and OH how I missed those kids. When I’d reunite with a child who once knew me so well she preferred my lap to her own grown-up’s, but now she was unsure about me…it made the time apart feel so vast…in a child’s mind, it was long enough to forget something wonderful.

Despite this new beginning, the warm, familiarity of old times developed quickly. The joyful reunions, the tender moments when children approached me for the first time to get a high-five or hug, the proud moments when students astounded me with their musical growth, the moments I felt SO proud to bear witness to the beauty of each unique family in class. I just don’t know how I got so lucky to share a tiny slice of your lives each week. To be a small part of your families’ stories is a privilege I never take for granted. SO MANY FACTORS that were out of my control complicated my “Outdoor Studio” that I feel I need to pay homage to them…maybe let them go 😊

**The millions of caterpillars, creeping and crawling all over my blanket…and then the moths that followed. **The DEAFENING DOWNPOURS under the tin roof.

**The spiderwebs that coated everything I needed to touch to set up (have I mentioned I don’t love touching spiderwebs?). **The noisy work vehicles and trucks on the highway **Those DARN LIGHTS that constantly flashed on and off and made me so nervous that someone would bonk their heads. **Deciding to finish my cup of coffee on a day that the bathrooms were locked – Good grief.

**The giant puddles that were way more exciting than Ms. Kristen some days!

**The hole in the ground I nearly broke my ankle on countless times. **The fence that, luckily, the children only discovered they could climb in the final few weeks. **The eternal question, “Is that just an itch…or is there a BUG CRAWLING UNDER MY MASK?!” as I calmly swiped a finger underneath to check.

Not to mention All. The. Dirt. I’m all for getting dirty outside, but…you have no idea my frustration as I’d clean a stack of instruments and bins, only to find them coated in a thin layer of dirt by the time I stacked them up for the next class. I never realized how much dirt blows around in the air (made me realize why allergies are so hard to fight!).

And wouldn’t you guess it, my final wagon-ride carrying supplies out of the park tipped over on a bump and all my clean instruments fell into the grass. OMG – after saying a word my students would NEVER hear from my lips, I just started laughing…it was a fitting “goodbye” from this crazy place…

And in spite of it all – some of my greatest, funniest and most memorable moments of teaching will be framed in this sunny, warm patch of grass.

**That time a potty-training student had to go “RIGHT NOW” and quite independently dropped his pants and went potty up against a nearby tree. (Ms. Kristen was SO proud of him for taking care of business like a big boy, even though his mom was a little embarrassed!)

**When David Hasselhoff joined us for class (on the TVs that I couldn’t figure out how to turn off) amid the loudest and craziest rainstorm I’ve ever been a part of!

**Using the trees, leaves, sticks, birds and bugs as improvisational music-making moments…SO beautiful to use the nature around us and a reminder that music is everywhere.

**So many brand new babies born this Spring that didn’t have to be isolated…because there was a safe place for them to come each week. **So many children who had never met a teacher nor had a “classmate” due to Covid, now making social connections before my very eyes. **So many parents who, after months of isolation with their children, discovered that they were not alone in this world – and formed new friendships.

**The quiet peace in between classes. I’d just look at all our instruments in the sunshine and feel this overwhelming sense of gratitude for the work I am able to do every day.

**The return of familiarity after a long time apart when a former student reaches the same level of trust and comfort we once had so many months ago.

**When a 9 month old crawled across the lawn, clamored up onto my knees and melted into my chest for a long hug. Unforgettable moment. She hasn't known a world without Covid and yet together, we created a safe space for her to sing and bounce and play without worry.

**Singing underneath that glorious sunshine day in and day out – we really were blessed with miraculous weather. There were moments when the clouds parted at JUST the right time – it felt like the earth was hugging us in warmth.

And something tells me this is not a “final” goodbye to outdoor classes…I suspect it’s a “goodbye for now.” Because who knows what Spring will bring. Who knows what will be considered safe for our families. If indoor classes are still not safe under the “New Normal” of Covid, I will continue to offer outdoor and virtual options in the Spring. Because I won’t allow time to pass without making music together…knowing now that we can. As always, I send my gratitude out to the universe, to my music-making families, and to my own family for their support, for the opportunity to do what I love every day, and for the memories we make that are forever woven into my heart.

I got this.

We all do.

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