Long time Music Teacher Happy to Continue Shared Moments with Creative Kids
Keith Bartlett has been performing and teaching music for over 50 years. Before the pandemic, he has been using video platforms, such as Skype, to teach his students who live in other provinces and outside Canada. So, when the pandemic started, he was ready and familiar with the platform needed to keep kids engaged in music.
Bartlett was one of many Creative Kids’ service providers who adjusted quickly to the new reality, moving all of his classes online. He says one advantage of virtual classes is that there is no limit to the number of students he could teach and reach.
He notes that adjustments to teaching style are needed to teach online. One experience that stood out for him during this transition was when he helped two “Creative Kids” set up their new rented instruments in their basement, via Zoom. “One held the camera and I showed them what to do. It was bizarre but it worked. And they did it!
“Performing has been a part of my life and my education,” he says. “Music was a gift from God and my parents allowed me to nurture it. They took me places to meet other musicians.” Creative Kids creates this opportunity for kids who could not afford to pay for such experience. The 75-year-old musician and performer agrees, adding that he has had the opportunity to share some good moments with kids who felt the beauty of what they are doing – thanks to Creative Kids.
“It is the fact that they actually did something. And I could see the smile on their face, especially with students who might have found it was the only thing they felt good about all week,” he says. “It might not be a musical gift, but a learning gift.”
He says that his favourite students are sometimes not the most gifted but the ones that love it, and are having a nice time doing what they love. “I have had students with no gifts at all, but when we meet for half an hour or whatever, it was the best time of the week for them. It’s like a little island where they could relax and enjoy music, and to me that is more rewarding than the most gifted students.”
He goes on to add that the society, sometimes, puts so much value on career possibilities, focusing on jobs in demand and dismissing arts and creative activities. Research has shown that kids do better in other areas when they participate in arts and creative activities such as music, visual arts, dance, and theatre etc. “Arts bring joy which will translate energy into other activities,” he says.
From his extensive years of experience as a music teacher, he says he does not expect that all his students will have a performing career in the future. He just wants them to “learn and enjoy music”. For other music or art teachers who have been used to teaching students in person, Keith advises them to “give the experience a little more time”.
He notes that when teaching online, music teachers have to get used to playing and teaching with a delay. “Basically what I will do is play a phrase, then I will ask them to play it back. And maybe they won’t get it right at first, but you have to be patient as a teacher.”