So much has changed in these past few months, it did not feel right to write about quality dance and music education in Alaska without addressing how much the delivery of that education has changed.
Our studio, like many, had its business model flipped unexpectedly and immediately this March. Arts education that relies on in person collaboration and direction was suddenly not allowed. It was a test to see what students, parents and small business owner’s would do when told the way it has always been done is no longer permitted.
At both our locations, Anchorage Music & Dance Center and Wasilla Music & Dance Center, we decided that we had to quickly and effectively change our business model to allow our students some sense of routine and normalcy during these extraordinary times. We had two, new major goals to accomplish:
• Create a positive & professional environment for students to continue with private & group music lessons and dance classes as quickly as possible, with the least amount of disruption to schedules and routines.
• Keep all our teachers and admin staff employed at normal levels thru the end of the school year.
With the incredible support of our students and their families, we were able to do both. All lessons & classes went live-stream beginning March 23rd. There was a lot of infrastructure to build to make that happen, and our teachers quickly adapted to new ways of teaching. We all learned a lot about the technical side of online classes, cloud space & internet speeds; maybe more than some of us ever wanted to know.
The fact that our families so highly valued their child’s arts education allowed us to continue with our mission: Giving children a place to express themselves creatively and learn skills such as playing an instrument, singing and dancing. Learning these skills challenges their minds and helps create high self-esteem. Making music and dancing also brings joy to life; something that seems especially important now.
We believe it’s true, that when so many things change, still so many things remain the same. These past few months have shown us that while we all need to remain flexible in how music and dance education is delivered to our students; the desire to have our children acquire a balanced arts education remains the same. We are honored to be able to continue to offer a high quality arts education to the Anchorage & Wasilla communities today and for many years to come.
Eileen Spezialy is the owner of Wasilla Music and Dance Center.