Tag Archives: 2020

Thanksgiving ’20 Update

Hello WCS Students & Families!

It’s hard to believe it’s already time for Thanksgiving – in part because the weather has yet to finally make up its mind to turn to a truly crisp, cold autumn air, and in part because the challenges of this year have made it harder to look up from our day-to-day lives and look forward to milestones on the horizon. I think that makes it all the more important to really take a moment to celebrate what we have to be thankful for this year! As we head into a week of Thanksgiving Break (remember, no lessons from November 23-28!) here’s a few highlights that I’d like to share:

As mentioned above, we’ve had an incredibly mild Fall ’20 Semester thus far – neither unbearably hot, untenably cold, or frequently raining – and never before in my life have I been so thankful for good weather! Good weather has afforded us the opportunity to meet together for lessons and group classes outdoors, which gave us access to two things that have been hard to come by this year – in-person interaction, and safety and peace of mind. So, while the weather is usually something reserved to talk about when we can’t think up any real topic of conversation, this year it’s something I’m truly, truly thankful for.

Speaking of in-person interaction, I don’t think there’s ever been a year in which I’ve gotten to know each and every student and family in our studio better. Even those of you whom Kirby and I have had the privilege of working with for nearly a decade, I feel we’ve gotten to know much more deeply this year, as we’ve shared our feelings on the struggles of this year, learned from each other, and supported one another. We’ve also had unique opportunities to stay connected with members of our alumni community, which grows larger year by year! Every year, I’m thankful for each and every student and their family and the relationship that we share, but never have I been more thankful for that opportunity, nor has the thought of our weekly interactions brought more of a smile to my face than this year!

And on the topic of safety and peace of mind, I am truly thankful for the respect, consideration, understanding, and flexibility each of our students and their families has shown as we have navigated the ever-changing landscape of this year, and I want to thank you all for the open and honest communication that we have been able to stay engaged in to try to find the best way forward together. As we see case numbers continue to steadily rise and enter into what may well be the most challenging part of the school year, let’s keep our communication open and honest so that West County Strings can remain a safe place for students and their families to be!

Last but certainly not least, there has been one big silver lining to this year for both Kirby and myself. Most summers, Kirby and I are both engaged in teaching at half-a-dozen or so workshops, camps, and institutes. As the spring progressed into summer, we saw these engagements forced to close down one after the other. And while we were saddened by the loss of opportunity to see friends, colleagues, and students that we only get to reconnect with once every year, a new opportunity was presented to us that we haven’t had since West County Strings began, for which I am truly thankful – the opportunity to teach our own students each and every week of the summer! It was a truly special, memorable experience to work with so many of you every single week of the summer, and now to see that planting, watering, and tending leading to bearing fruit in your playing this fall!

As Thanksgiving Break draws to a conclusion, we’ll have updates on everything from our December 13 Zoom “Home Concert,” to All-Suburban and All-State auditions coming up at the start of 2021, and Missouri Federation of Music Clubs opportunities following shortly thereafter in the spring. But for now, we hope you all have a happy, healthy, restful, and rejuvenating Thanksgiving!

Finding Hope in the Helpers

“When I was a boy and saw scary things in the news, my Mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.’”

– Fred Rodgers

In light of everything going on in the world right now, I find this quote to ring a special kind of true.  I have seen medical workers on the front lines providing people with the care they need, postmen, fedex workers, amazon employees bringing people goods they need, and neighbors reaching out to neighbors providing help and relief in any way they can.  I have seen Facebook support groups arise with people sharing information and knowledge that is crucial to others. On a more global scale, I have seen people in social isolation. I have seen spring breaks canceled for the greater good of the community – to protect from the spread of this virus and those most vulnerable.  

Our family has been in social isolation for many days.  When we started this week, knowing we would not have our usual support group of people that we see everyday, I will admit I was nervous.  I thought I would feel empty and isolated. However, I have found the more time passes, I have had a chance to shift my priorities. I have been able to think of new ways to care for those around me; both in my immediate family and with students, neighbors and loved ones. 

One of the best things we have done as a family during this time is to bring more music into our home.  Brad and I have had time to play music together, to practice and play individually, and Calder has been much more involved in these times, as well!  During those times, the news and anxiety going on outside of our walls melts away and there is comfort and hope. The music of Bach, Bartok, Dvorak and many more are timeless.  

This virus will pass.  When it does, life will continue.  I’m not sure how different we will all feel, but I do know that as a body of people, supporting one another, we can come out on the other end stronger than before.  I am seeing so much beauty in humanity these days – I invite you to look for it too, and share what you’re finding with us!  

– Kirby