Dear Rock U. rockers, parents, friends, fans, and families:
We miss you! And we send our hopes that you’re in good health and comfortable during this period of confinement. Our deepest sympathies to all of you who are feeling ill or anxious, or who are dealing with loss. It seems like a cliché to say we’re all in this together, but it’s true.
Here at Rock U., today was supposed to be the first day of our 2020 Spring Session. We were pumped to enjoy a great Winter Concert at La Boule Noire last Sunday, and to spend this week sharing videos and photos and reliving our memories of the show, before starting up band practices again today and next week.
Well, as Mick and Keef famously said, “You can’t always get what you want.”
But don’t forget the next line: if you try sometimes, you get what you need.
So we’re here to announce that, starting now, we’ll be bringing Rock U. to you online until we can get back into the studio. Many of you are currently involved in distance learning at school, but unfortunately it’s nearly impossible to play music together online. Even the shortest latency (“lag”) times in internet connections result in musicians playing as much as a full beat off from each other, meaning it’s not possible to play together in time, something that’s hard enough to do already. But there are a lot of other ways we can learn, progress, and have fun during this time, and we want to get back to rocking right away.
So, here’s what we’re gonna do.
Starting next week (or possibly even sooner for some of our Friday and Saturday bands), we will be resuming weekly band session for ALL of our youth and teen bands. These will be conducted on Zoom, which works on all devices and platforms and is available for free download at https://zoom.us/
We realize each band will be different. Some students may not have the right instruments at home. Others may have more technical proficiency and independence than others. But we’re committed to maintaining some continuity and fun for each band by at least conducting a face-to-face session each week. Some may use this time to choose their songs for the next show, assign roles for the songs, play some musical quiz games, and learn some basic music theory tips. Others may undertake more ambitious projects, such as making and sharing recordings of the songs they had learned for the Winter Concert, writing an original song, or other creative projects. It may even be possible for some bands and students to begin instruction on their spring songs through short breakout sessions within the band chat so we can hit the ground running once Rock U. reopens. And of course we can all share cookie breaks (BYOB = Bring Your Own Biscuits), a cherished Rock U. tradition. We’ve already tested out this meeting format with a few of our Rock U. bands this week, and it’s worked surprisingly well.
Our two main goals for the Spring Session will be to:
- provide a way for the bands to perform the songs they had already learned for the Winter Concert (this could include some kind of live performances during the spring, video performances, or open band rehearsals for parents and siblings)
- carry out as close as we can to a full spring semester of live practices once our studio can reopen (in addition to the online learning we’re offering now, this could include moving the June concert to a later date or finding ways to add additional practice time)
Here are some questions you might have:
What do I need to do for my child to take part?
For those of you who are parents of our younger students, we’ll need you to facilitate the online meeting process for your rocker. Please download Zoom on an appropriate device and provide a space for your rocker to participate in the online band session. You will hear from your child’s band teacher before the meeting with a Zoom meeting ID or URL which will allow your child to join. Make sure your child has any available musical instruments handy, and microphone-enabled earphones are a good idea if you have them. And cookies.
For our teen students, most of you already have WhatsApp chat groups with your band and teacher. Make sure you check these regularly for updates about your band’s plans.
How do I get in touch with my (or my child’s) band teacher?
Here you go:
Matt Black: 06 19 69 25 74 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rory Quinn: 06 59 99 51 63 email@example.com
Leander Lyons: 06 73 54 25 78 firstname.lastname@example.org
James Dempsey: 06 98 20 04 40 email@example.com
Jason Waters: 07 67 78 88 16 firstname.lastname@example.org
When will the Rock U. studio reopen and what happens then?
None of us knows exactly what the future will hold, but we hope to be able to open our doors again to regular activity sometime by the end of April or beginning of May. However, this is only a best guess. Once we know more about the schedule for the resumption of activities, as well as any changes to the school year calendar and the availability of our performance venues, we will get back to you with more information. We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding until then.
How much do I owe for the Spring Session?
At this time, we’re not requiring any payment for the Spring Session. We realize there are too many unknowns, and many of you may be dealing with financial uncertainties of your own as a result of the current situation. We want to keep your rockers moving forward on their musical and social journeys with their bands despite this.
However, as you’re probably aware, Rock U. is a non-profit Association loi 1901. We don’t collect more revenues than our projected expenses, and we don’t keep cash reserves on hand in the same way that a for-profit company might have. Furthermore, all of our teachers and staff are independent contractors, for whom the level of relief expected from the government is lower and less certain than for salaried employees – in fact, many of us don’t qualify for any relief at all, as it’s currently been proposed. Our teachers will be paid for the work they do during this time, so they can continue to make a living, feed their families, and pay their expenses.
So what are we asking of you? As we said, we do expect eventually to be able to deliver nearly the full Spring Session of live practices, in addition to perhaps a full month or more of online activities before that. We’ll be sending invoices for the Spring Session next week. If you value what we do, and your circumstances allow you to support Rock U. through this difficult time by prepaying for the Spring Session, we will gratefully welcome any payments made now, partial or in full. If for some reason we’re not able to resume normal activities as we expect, you’ll be refunded or credited for any unused payments.
I’d rather not pay anything now, what does that mean for my child’s participation?
That’s okay. Your child will NOT lose his or her place in the band for the Spring Session, and may still participate in our online activities until we reopen. Payment will be due once we can get back in the studio.
Will activities stop during the April school holiday?
Nope. You probably can’t go anywhere anyway, and neither can we, so we’ll use the extra two weeks to rock more.
Are you offering anything else to help students keep learning music for now?
Yes! Starting next week, we’ll be posting daily free rock and roll content on our YouTube channel and Facebook page. We’ll be sharing simple tips in our new One Minute Master Class series, more advanced Pro Tips for expert players, as well as features on how to play famous riffs, bits of music trivia and theory, artist appreciation, tours of the Rock U. teachers’ home practice spaces, and recommendations on online resources for rockers. Like and subscribe to be notified as each new day’s post goes up.
We’ll also be offering some new online courses during this time, with different teachers providing personalized instruction in small online classes and some social and fun group activities as well. Stay tuned for more information on these courses coming very soon.
And as our private lesson students already know, we’re continuing with online lessons during this period of closure. If you want to start taking private lessons with one of our instructors via Zoom or Skype, now is an excellent time to begin. You can sign up for private lessons here: https://forms.gle/C6n2pmQWcReGF5C99
We know this isn’t how any of us expected to be spending our time this month. The irony of this situation is that togetherness and music are two things that could be really helpful to most of us during this period of isolation and uncertainty, and they’re two things we can’t have, at least not the way we’re used to. Rock U. is built on the joy of sharing music together in the same physical space and in front of an audience, and that’s been taken away from all of us temporarily. But we’re going to find ways to keep your musical journey moving forward, one little step at a time.
See you online soon, rockin’ and rollin’!
Stay chill, hang tough, make music,
Matt and the Rock U. Crew