With students out of classrooms and uncertain when they'll return, a Flesherton music teacher has taken it upon himself to help keep kids connected and learning during their time away.
Charlie Glasspool, 45, is an instrumental music teacher at Macphail Memorial Elementary School in Flesherton and has been streaming a daily musical activity through Facebook since schools in Ontario closed due to COVID-19 in March.
"Normally every day in school we have daily physical activity, which is supposed to last 20 minutes," Glasspool says. "I had this idea of doing an online daily music activity."
About 50-60 kids, parents and even grandparents are tuning into the stream daily. Glasspool says they have been covering some basic musical exercises that would normally happen in the classroom, while also working together to learn to play the Bill Withers classic song "Lean On Me".
Several videos have surfaced of groups of apartment dwellers in the United States and Italy recently, singing the song from their balconies while in isolation to stop the spread of the virus.
"I just heard that song again in a very different way recently given the circumstances," Glasspool says. "And I thought maybe there could be a way we could learn the song together online."
Last week, Glasspool says the group made their first attempts to record the song individually from their homes.
"People are sending in their clips, of kids and families, of their version of Lean On Me," he explains.
Siobhan Curry, who attends Macphail Elementary in a Grade 3/4 classroom, is one of the students taking part in the daily music class.
She has been trying to do some homework to keep learning each day while schools are closed, and has welcomed the chance to practice the flute during the daily online music activity.
"I've enjoyed it so much. We learned a new song and it is fun to have a music class every day," Siobhan says. "I struggled at the start, but he explained it really well to us and that helped a lot."
Two other Macphail elementary students who are enjoying the stream are brother and sister Miah and Ebyn Merkeley.
Miah, a Grade 6 student, plays the clarinet at school but has been using a keyboard at home. She says the online music stream is a good way to spend time at home.
Her brother, Ebyn, is in Grade 4 and says he and his sister have been able to keep up a daily tradition during the online streams that they would normally do at school: morning announcements.
Ebyn says he and Miah put a recording together of the announcements and then send it to Mr. Glasspool to play at the start of the online stream.
Glasspool acknowledges the musical stream has been a way to try and connect with others during these unprecedented times. He says he plans to continue doing the sessions as long as they're wanted.