It’s a well documented fact that better decisions are made when women are in the room where it happens. This is because women bring a unique perspective and are able to find creative solutions to problems faced by organisations. Today I stand with men and women around the world who seek to address gender bias in our organisations.
I am also grateful for the women upon whose shoulders I stand today. My story would not have been possible without your sacrifice and courage.
A couple of days ago, my girls and I had a spontaneous sign-along around the piano. I surreptitiously captured a few seconds on camera so as not to kill the moment.
That moment took me back to our many months of music making when they were babies and toddlers, where they would sit on my lap on the floor, wiggling, clapping and playing percussion instruments in a room full of other, mostly moms, and children of a similar age.
Those sessions were our special “Mummy and Me” times during an otherwise busy and chaotic week, where we bonded over a shared activity.
I love the fact that all these years later, music making continues to be an activity over which we connect.
I love the fact that the piano room is a sanctuary in our home. A place where we go to reflect, relax and relieve tension while tinkling the little white and black keys.
A place where we process, where we cry, where we worship.
Those baby music classes helped to create a culture in our home that makes shared magical moments like this feel totally natural.
I will be sharing my personal and professional experience of how to raise a musical child in a free webinar. Do join me if you can. Sign up for free using the link below. If you make the webinar or you missed it, sign up anyway in order to receive the replay.
Yesterday, 11 February 2021, Papa Jakande passed away, aged 91.
Papa Jakande was the first civilian governor of Lagos State, Nigeria between October 1979 and December 1983. His quiet, diminutive and kindly demeanor belied his steely determination, charisma and vision.
In July 1982, aged 10, I wrote to the governor, bemoaning the state of the roads in Lagos and the rubbish that littered the streets. I suggested ways in which his administration could tackle the issue as I was sure he hadn’t thought about the solutions I proffered.
My mother, Chief Mrs Tinuade Gbadamosi, was working with his administration as a member of one of the Schools Management Boards that he set up and she delivered my letter to him at one of their meetings.
Two months later, the governor wrote me back! His reply was generous and not at all patronising. He took his time over two pages of typed text to give detailed answers to every issue I raised. He concluded the letter with an invitation to pay him a visit. I remember my dad’s surprise and the excitement we all felt about not just his reply but also the invitation to visit. During the visit, the governor presented me with a wine coloured hand bag which I can still see in my mind’s eye today.
The bag eventually wore out and was discarded but I have never forgotten my encounter with him.
I celebrate Papa Jakande because of his commitment to providing free education to the children of Lagos State. He built hundreds of schools in the state during his four year tenure, making it possible for millions of children to get an education. He also took over many private schools, so that the State would cover the cost of education and children could be educated fee-free. I was one of those children.
Many of the Jakande schools have since fallen into disrepair and several returned to private sector operators. However, the impact of his reforms live on in those who because of his vision and passion, were able to access jobs, build careers and impact their communities in ways that would otherwise not have been open to them.
Papa, your sons and daughters salute you. Rest in peace. 🙏🏾
One of the first families who attended my early years music classes in the UK were the Price family.
Mum, Melanie, started coming with Lauren probably one to two years after I first opened a centre in their local area. Lauren happens to share my birthday and is therefore, naturally, my favourite 😁.
It was a pleasure to witness the family grow as Melanie fell pregnant with her subsequent two babies. She would bring them to classes, initially in their car seats, until they were old enough to take part themselves. Occasionally, their father, Jonathan, would attend classes if Melanie wasn’t available.
I remember Melanie being gently supportive of her daughters during the sessions. She modelled the behaviour she wanted them to emulate, actively joining in with the singing and the actions even when, especially as toddlers, the children had other ideas!
For three years from 2006, 2007 and 2008, I was invited to run music workshops for the girls birthday parties.
My favourite was the “Music Around the World” party which was held on the 14th of June 2008, for Lauren’s 5th birthday where we “visited” France, Australia and Hawaii among other nations.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing the didgeridoo, wearing Hawaiian leys and grass skirts and singing a song in a terrible French accent about making pastry.
I recently caught up with Melanie to find out how the girls are doing and this is what she said:
“All three of my girls are still all very involved in music today.”
“Lauren has achieved grade 5 piano and grade 6 singing and is due to take her grade 6 flute next term. She plays in school ensembles as well as in a flute group”.
“Her real passion is singing and she is a member of a local Youth Choir and has been in church and school choirs since primary school”.
“Charlotte is working on her grade 5 piano and has just passed her grade 6 violin. She is a member of our local Youth Symphony Orchestra and also plays in a local ensemble as well as school ensembles”.
“Abigail is working on grade 3 piano and has just passed her grade 4 violin. She is part of an Intermediate orchestra and plays in school ensembles as well as a local music ensemble. Abi also sings in church and school choirs”.
“I definitely credit their early years music and movement classes with giving them a love of music from an early age. They all loved the classes and have always enjoyed listening to and playing music.”
“I have such fond memories of attending the baby music classes.”
I am so thrilled to learn that all three girls have continued to pursue music alongside their other passions – athletics and gymnastics being other areas in which they have excelled over the years.
The gentle, yet dogged commitment of Melanie and Jonathan to supporting the girls’ music education right from infancy has yielded great fruit of which they should be proud. It’s been a honour to play a small part in sparking the girls love for music.
I leave you with this recording of Lauren and members of her youth of choir giving a beautiful, virtual rendition of “Fix You” which I am sure you will agree is absolutely beautiful.
For those of you who despair whether your inattentive toddler will ever settle down long enough in baby music class to learn the finer points of rhythm and pitch, I say NEVER, EVER give up!
You have got to play the long game… Keep the prize in sight. Stay positive, keep engaging, keep persevering. They do eventually click. And the rewards, as I am sure the Price family can testify to, are immeasurable.
In the year 2000, I took my first tentative steps into Music Education when I bought into an Early Year’s Music franchise in the UK.
I thought it would be good to catch up with some of the friends and families I met along the way to see how they are getting on, and find out what role music plays in their lives today, if any.
First stop is Pat Hood. Pat was assigned to be my trainer and mentor when I became a franchisee of an Early Years music company – Jo Jingles.
The relationship was only meant to last for the first few months during which she would offer support and advice on everything from crafting musically sound programmes to giving advice on business matters such as marketing, sales and finance.
However, in true characteristic form, Pat was incredibly generous with her support and remained a friendly ear that I could bend throughout my time in the UK.
Today, Pat is a treasured friend and source of inspiration as she takes her music wherever she goes, touching lives and bringing hope and light.
Even though she is now in “retirement” Pat continues to play an active role in the music scene of her local community and my ambition today remains as it was all those years ago – to be like Pat when I grow up.
Earlier this month I caught a glimpse of a New Nigeria.
It was full of creative, confident and courageous young men and women who were courteous, clever and of upstanding character.
This New Nigeria was compassionate, respectful of the rights of everyone to basic human rights, regardless of creed, sexual orientation, tongue or tribe.
Her citizens were tenacious, yet respectful, dogged and determined yet responsible. They were accountable and transparent. I was so proud!!!!
And while their ascendancy has been momentarily and cruelly interrupted, I am confident that they will be back. Better organised, laser focused on their mission. Unstoppable.
In my privileged position as a Music Educator, I get to interact with future generations of this New Nigeria. The ones to whom the baton will be passed in the not too distant future and I feel the weight of responsibility that lies upon my shoulders and on the shoulders of Educators up and down the country, to do good by them.
To provide them with the tools that they need to realise our collective dreams.
To build their Character, to instill in them the Courage to do hard things. To grow their Confidence to speak up in a room full of strangers. To inspire and ignite their Creativity and to develop their Cognitive skills through repeatedly tackling seemingly impossible tasks.
This is my calling. I have no other purpose.
I renew my pledge to present and future Nigeria
To be faithful, loyal and honest in executing my responsibility
To serve present and future Nigeria with all my might
Like many educators, I have been wrestling with what format teaching should take in the upcoming academic term. Like most countries in the world, schools in Nigeria have been shut since March 2020, and we have only begun to see an easing of restrictions in the last couple of weeks to allow school leavers to sit their crucial end of phase exams.
Up until the lockdown, we delivered over 90% of our lessons in person, mostly in client’s homes or schools. When lock-down happened, we were forced to transition quickly to virtual teaching and have been doing so ever since. Now that schools are set to open in the next few weeks, my team and I find ourselves asking the question, what is the right response for us?
My first thought is that the coronavirus is still very much with us, and even countries like New Zealand who declared an early victory over the pandemic, are currently experiencing a second wave of new infections and are in the throes of a new lockdown.
While it appears that Nigeria (mercifully) has had a relatively easier time compared with other countries such as South Africa, cases are nevertheless still rising. As of yesterday, the 23rd of August 2020, there were over 52,000 confirmed cases. Of these, 2% are linked to foreign travel, 24% are contacts of known cases, while 74% were infected through “unknown exposure” (source: COVID-19 SITUATION REPORT 177, Sunday, 23rd August 2020, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control). I don’t know about you but the high percentage of untraceable infections is of concern to me.
According to this guidance released by the Federal Ministry of Education, schools and learning facilities need to undertake risk assessments to determine how safe it is to reopen for the 2020-2021 academic year. As we are not a traditional school, not all the considerations are applicable to us, but we were able to draw up our own risk assessment based on the Government’s guidelines which we feel is relevant to our unique situation.
KMC COVID RISK ASSESSMENT
Is there a high rate of community transmission in the area in which the lesson is due to take place?
Is there a high rate of community transmission in the area in which the Music Coach resides?
Will the Music Coach able to maintain a physical distance of 2 meters between themselves and other commuters enroute to the client’s home and back again?
Does the Music Coach, the Learner or anyone they are in regular contact with have a pre-existing condition that puts them at higher risk of contracting the virus?
Will the Music Coach able to measure the body temperature of themselves, the Learner and any other persons present at the lesson location with an infrared digital thermometer before entering the premises?
Will the Music Coach be able to wash or sanitise his or her hands conveniently before, during and after the lesson as the need arises?
Will the Music Coach be able to maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from the Learner and anyone else present throughout the lesson?
Are both the Music Coach and Learner able to wear face masks for the entire duration of the lesson without negatively impacting teaching and learning? (may not be feasible for voice, brass or woodwind lessons for instance).
Does the location of the lesson have adequate cross ventilation that does not require the use of a fan or airconditioner as these could potentially circulate the virus in a confined space?
Can the lesson take place without the Music Coach needing to share equipment with the pupil, such as pens, pencils, notebooks, music books and musical instruments?
Where sharing of equipment and resources is unavoidable, can these be adequately sanitised before and after the lesson is due to happen so as not to impact on teaching and learning time?
Is everyone present aware of proper hygiene protocols regarding sneezing and coughing in order to minimise the possible spread of water droplets?
Will the Music Coach and Learner have access to safe and sanitary rest rooms with running water if required?
Are there adequate contact tracing protocols in place at the lesson venue should it become necessary to reach people who may have come into contact with an infected person?
In addition to the health considerations above, we feel that the following logistical concerns are equally important:
Does the increased congestion presently being experienced in Lagos on account of ongoing repairs to the Third Mainland Bridge and the Okada ban allow allow the Music Coach to fulfil their obligations to other clients?
Does the timing of the lesson allow enough time for the Music Coach to return home before the start of any curfews imposed by the State or Federal Government?
With so many factors to consider, my team and I have decided that our default teaching format for the start of the 2020-2021 academic year will be virtual with the possibility of in-person lessons once a month for those clients who want it, provided the risks outlined above can be mitigated.
To make our virtual lessons as effective and impactful as possible, we will adopt both syncrhonous (live) and asyncrhonous tuition methods. This format was used to great effect in delivering our eight week virtual summer camp for which we had fantastic feedback from both parents and children alike.
With regards to when we are likely to return to all in-person lessons, it is not possible to give a specific time frame as there are just too many variables at play. All we can do is to continue to keep the situation under review, with the aim of switching to in-person lessons when the benefits of doing so outweigh the risks.
I have a sneaky suspicion however, that virtual instruction will remain an important part of learning in the future and that blended teaching methods are here to stay.