Providing a consistent connection online

online music lessons

Lena Sinker rehearses guitar online with Settlement Faculty Andrea Carlson (Photo courtesy of Bethany Flaugher).

Bethany Flaugher had to make a difficult decision this past March. After losing her job due to the pandemic, she contacted the staff at Settlement’s Germantown Branch to cancel her daughter’s weekly guitar lessons.

Her daughter, Lena Sinker, had been studying with Andrea Carlson for two years and had experienced major improvements in her self-esteem and self-confidence after learning to read music and playing guitar. So this was not a decision Bethany took lightly for her eight-year-old daughter.

Luckily, Settlement was able to award financial aid to her family so Lena could continue lessons with Andrea online.

“I was really happy for her to continue because it brought something consistent to her schedule,” says Bethany. “With school and everything having so many bumps in the road, it was nice for Lena to see a consistent face and connect with someone while we were closed off to everyone outside.”

Bethany adds that, with the entire family cooped up in the house every day, these lessons offered Lena a nice break to focus on herself every Wednesday night.

“It was such a wonderful thing to walk by my office and hear the beautiful music that was being played in the house,” says Bethany. “It’s just nice to watch Lena progress.”

That idea of progress is something that is consistently on the minds of parents across the country right now. Will this pandemic force my child to fall behind developmentally? Will these months of isolation change the way they interact with others?

But watching Lena interact with her teacher online shows how resilient kids can be and might offer some comfort to parents who are seeking out opportunities for their kids to connect online. As an example, Bethany points to the fact that Lena, who can be a little shy, opens up whenever she talks about cats. During her online lessons, she would always make sure to point her cats out to Andrea when they walked in the room, and Andrea would often draw cute cat notes for her while they practiced.

“Andrea really humored Lena in the cat department,” says Bethany. “It was great to see a teacher connect with her like that.”

One key motivator for Lena continuing her online lessons this fall is to be able to participate in the family’s next holiday jam session. With a guitar-playing grandma and five aunts on a mix of accordion, violin, and ukulele, Lena’s holiday gatherings usually consist of lots of live music. While this year’s holiday celebration may look a little different, Lena continues to practice so she can showcase her latest guitar skills the next time they are all together again, whether that be in person or online.

If you have not yet registered for Settlement’s fall session, we hope you will consider contacting us to enroll today!