March 26, 2020
I’ve spent the last couple days re-working our summer camps to bring kids content in 1/2-day programs via Zoom, as well as working on video framing, story-boarding, and setting up tripods.
Randy has been holding a few complimentary classes via Zoom even though it is Spring Break to get the bugs worked out on leading group music classes on a platform that doesn’t really lend itself to group music-making.
Oh, and I’ve cleaned the microwave, stovetop, and burner drip pans. Who knew we could be so productive?
I’ve also cooked up a new remote project for everyone who loves marimba based on the ‘Loveland Loves to Read’ community book-reading model in which everyone can participate…even remotely! Stay tuned for the announcement in the next week: ‘Kutandara Love to Play’ #iamkutandara #wearekutandara #20years #kutandarastrong
Amy McIntosh, Problem Solver Extraordinaire
March 23, 2020
Well, It’s the first day of BVSD Spring Break, but it doesn’t feel like it. We were supposed to be doing something else. I bet you were, too.
We checked out our first 2 complimentary marimbas yesterday, and have another 2 set up to check out tomorrow.
We’ve borrowed a tripod from our friend Chris Torrence, who is helping us edit teaching videos to compliment our Zoom group classes. (I cleaned our office so that if we truly are homebound, you don’t have to see our personal clutter in the youtube videos!)
Another two friends, Becky Bragg and Jon Stubbs, are researching platforms that allow people to play music together remotely. (There’s this little problem called “lag” or “delay” that make group music-making nearly impossible.) Stay tuned on that note. (Ha!)
I never did get out of my pajamas.
What did you do today? I hope you felt the sun on your cheeks and heard the birds sing. I did.
Amy McIntosh, Eternal Optimist or Nihilist (depending on the moment)
March 18, 2020
Things are changing…FAST! We’ve made the difficult decision to come together by keeping our distance from one another during this time of uncertainty. In order to respond to the spread of COVID-19, Kutandara will be transitioning to remote teaching via Zoom for all existing classes until at least April 15. Our instructional team will use next week (our official Spring Break) to get organized crafting your ideas into lesson plans, solving tech issues, and generally re-working how we gather and to what purpose it can serve us each in this time of physical distancing.
Please join in on the Zoom call for your class and help us make this chapter of our marimba journey together the best it can be for each of you. We need your help now more than ever to figure this out!
Amy McIntosh, Holder of Light and Joy even in the Darkness
March 17, 2020
Wow! This has been an interesting time for everyone, hasn’t it? Realigning to a new normal has been interesting, challenging, and downright daunting some days.
We are committed at Kutandara to continue to provide a place for people to connect socially and musically in friendship through the music of Zimbabwe… And in the way that works best for you in these times.
This is the week before our official spring break, and we think it is a good time to experiment using video teleconferencing for gathering as a group.
The studio is still open, but we honor whatever choice you have made during this time of physical isolation. We continue to disinfect high touch services daily, including mallets and drumsticks, as well as using and encouraging strict handwashing procedures. We’ve also spread the marimbas apart…far apart!
Randy and I will participate in classes from Kutandara with anyone else who wants to join us…in person or remotely.
We held our first Zoom class with an adult group last night, and it was fun, awkward, silly, and eye-opening! If you are up for trying to be together by Zoom, we invite you to participate using the link in your email inbox.
One thing to note is that classes will probably look significantly different via Zoom than you are used to them looking. Our default is to play together as a group, which is nearly impossible by videoconferencing. We will experiment with some of that, but we will also be asking you what opportunity this time might provide for us to address other areas of learning in which you are interested. Some areas that we as instructors have already brainstormed are: history of the music, cultural context of the music, technique, music theory, rhythm work, etc.
So, let us know how you plan to participate this week! In person or by zoom? Or not at all?
If you have trouble with Zoom or need tech-support, please reach out! You should plan to set yourself up before class actually begins and test your video and audio. Zoom will walk your through the steps. Here are a few other tips:
1. You’re going to want headphones. Bluetooth if possible, but if you have a cord try to run the cord down your back (so it is not in the way of your hands and mallets). You may need a headphone extension. They sell these at Best Buy, and I also have a few I could loan out. Let me know and I’ll put one in the mailbox for you.
2. If you have a tenor, use that for the Zoom call. We will take a poll of what instruments you each have in front of you on the Zoom call, and we will try to play in another range in the room. We’ve noticed that it’s hard to distinguish parts from one another if we’re all in the same register/range.
3. Make sure you have the softest mallets available so that your instrument is quiet enough in your physical space so that you can hear our instrument/s. The headphones will help with this.
4. In the upper right hand corner of the Zoom screen you can toggle between gallery and speaker view. I prefer gallery view because I can see everyone on the call. Zoom will place a green box around the person who is speaking.
5. Plan to have yourself muted most of the call unless you have a comment or question. A rustling of paper, a doorbell, or even a sneeze can toggle the microphone to you (which is why your default should be mute). You can use the chat feature to type your questions or comments. (The whole group will see what you type.) You can also visually indicate with a wave that you would like to ask a question or make a comment. We will periodically go around the “room” to check in to see people how people are doing.
And BTW, how are you doing?
Amy McIntosh, Herder of Cats and Marimba Players
March 12, 2020
We hope you are doing well, and enjoying each other. Now is a time to hold each other close, and stay calm.
We know that a lot of information is swirling around, and we want you to stay healthy and do what feels right.We also want you to know we are committed to the practices we’ve recently put in place to help keep Kutandara a safe gathering place:
- While we’ve always requested folks wash your hands before class, now we highly recommend it…you might say we insist on it! We also recommend washing your hands before you leave. We’ve stocked up on hand soap and paper towels to make this easy to do. (Paper towels are compostable…yay!)
- We’ve also stocked up on hand sanitizer. Feel free to sanitize your hands throughout class, as needed.
- We are submerging drumsticks and marimba mallets in a bleach solution each night after classes. To ensure you have a disinfected pair, grab yours from the “clean” pile on the counter when you walk in. Keep them with you throughout class, and place them in the “dirty” basket when class is over.
- Teachers are disinfecting hi-touch areas (door handles, light switches, kitchen counters, coffee tables, futon arms, sink handles, toilet handles, etc.) each day before and after classes with hospital grade bleach wipes.
We have spread out our instruments to allow for social distancing in the classroom should you feel comfortable attending classes. Please continue to attend classes if it feels right for you to do so!
We know that BVSD has announced cancellation of after school activities March 13-April 6 to help keep our communities safe. Starting next week, each of our classes will have the opportunity for students to participate remotely using technology. Stay tuned for details regarding your specific class.
If you do not have a marimba at home, but would like one, we are making rental marimbas available free of charge for the remainder of this semester to students who wish to participate remotely.
We will reassess the appropriateness of gathering in person after spring break (March 22-28).
Some things to think about:
- We gather at Kutandara generally in groups of less than 10 people.
- Viruses can be contagious and infectious, but so can fear.
- Warm words, calm energy, and a smile from a friendly face can also be infectious!
- We all need to make our own choices, and respect other’s choices: no judgement about students who continue to come to class, but no judgement, either, of students who are following every suggestion to the letter.
- At Kutandara, we aim to provide a range of choices so that our students and families can choose to stay connected to one another, whatever that may look like for them.
- You can expect a supportive, helpful energy from Kutandara teachers as we all navigate our way through this time.
We will provide updates as they are needed, and in the meantime we will be at the studio with a warm smile, disinfected mallets, and clean hands! (But if we feel sick, we’ll let you know that we are staying home!)
Amy McIntosh, Chief Cook and Mallet Disinfector
March 10, 2020
I wanted to let you know that while facilitating a healthy gathering space has always been one of our top priorities, we’ve recently made a few improvements to help keep Kutandara a healthy place to gather and make music.
While we’ve always requested folks wash their hands before class, now we’ll highly recommend it…you might say insist on it! We also recommend washing your hands before you leave. We’ve stocked up on hand soap and paper towels to make this easy to do. (Paper towels are compostable…yay!)
We’ve also stocked up on hand sanitizer. Feel free to sanitize your hands throughout class, as needed.
We are also sumberging drumsticks and marimba mallets in a bleach solution each night after classes. To ensure you have a disinfected pair, grab yours from the “clean” pile on the counter when you walk in. Keep them with you throughout class, and place them in the “dirty” basket when class is over.
Teachers will also be disinfecting hi-touch areas (door handles, light switch, kitchen counters, coffee tables, futon arms, sink handles, toilet handles, etc.) each day before and after classes with hospital grade clorox wipes.
We hope that these measures make you feel safe to gather in groups at Kutandara. As always, cough and sneeze into your elbow, keep your hands away from your face, and stay home if you feel sick.
We have a generous make up policy if you miss classes. Feel free to ask me how to make up any missed classes.
Amy McIntosh, Executive Director