If you have not been following our blog series which explores different music teacher’s perspectives on teaching children’s music classes virtually, you can find them here. In this final installment of the four-part series, we interview Dr. Joy Galliford, Ph. D., Director of Development and Instructor for South Florida Music serving children in Miami and surrounding areas. Dr. Galliford, or as her students call her, “Dr. Joy” has over thirty-six years of experience in music education at every level. That experience, along with the addition of having won numerous awards and accolades in her field, Dr. Joy’s insight into how childhood music translates into a virtual environment is invaluable.
Let Musikgarten first thank you again for agreeing to share
your knowledge with us. Tell us a little
bit about your experience teaching the Musikgarten curriculum?
Dr. Joy: My journey
began as a parent. Over thirty-one years ago, I attended children’s music classes with my daughter, Alaina. Then, my son,
Nathaniel, began classes, and later participated in the Musikgarten Piano
curriculum pilot with Dr. Mary Louise Wilson, his piano teacher. I am certified
in each of Musikgarten curricular levels and teaching each one for over 25
Please share with us
how you came about offering Musikgarten classes online, and what influenced
Dr. Joy: South Florida
Music is based in Miami. In March, it became evident that our public-school
system would be closing due to the pandemic. While the exact date was unclear,
we knew it was only a few weeks away. Knowing this, we aggressively began
planning our transition to online classes. For us, it was extremely important
that our children would have the opportunity to continue this new virtual
journey with South Florida Music.
South Florida Music
considers everyone involved in our program a family. This includes the
children, parents and staff. We knew that it was critical for everyone’s mental
well-being that music and the relationships formed remain strong and present.
Because of this, providing an opportunity for the children to see, hear and
enjoy music-making with their teachers as well as seeing the sheer joy of the
experience in their home environment was paramount for us. Together, our staff
shifted the in-person program to virtual within one weeks. It was truly an
amazing task embraced and accomplished as a team for which I am grateful to
have been a member.
Did you offer
in-person Musikgarten classes before the pandemic? Did you have previous
experience with an online video “production”?
Dr. Joy: Our program
only offered in-person classes prior to the pandemic, but I had some previous
experience with video production. However, online video production was a new
task for me.
What would you say
were the biggest challenges or hurdles around transitioning from an in-person
children’s music class to an online format?
Dr. Joy: The
challenges and hurdles in transiting our program to online classes were numerous.
First, we had to determine how the weekly classes would be provided to satisfy
our semester commitment for enrolled parents. Second, a decision had to be made
regarding the technology and equipment needs to produce a quality product.
Then, it took careful content planning so that the children and parents would
be engaged during the lesson. Another challenge was keeping our staff present
in the lessons so that our 280 plus enrolled children would be able to see
“their teacher” and continue a level of connectivity. The final hurdle came in
the area of production. The complexity and time intensive labor involved in
recording videos; storing and organizing of the recorded clips; producing,
reviewing and editing the lessons; organizing, planning and producing resource
materials for the piano levels; plus planning occasional LIVE Zoom sessions to
continue excitement and engagement was more than anyone could imagine.
What technical advice
could you offer to someone who has never created or provided an online
children’s music class?
Dr. Joy: My
recommendation is to begin by watching others who are producing online music
classes. Increasing your understanding of this product line, what is being
offered in your area, what are parent expectations, and can or do you have the
ability to accomplish an online music class is paramount. Taking this first
step assumes that you already have knowledge of the curricular level that you
are intending to produce. If you don’t, please stop and make sure that you
increase your confidence and mastery level. Then, one must be realistic in
understanding his/her personal limitations with technology coupled with
maintaining a high-level of commitment, perseverance, and love for early
childhood music education. All of these factors must be evident to contribute to
your success story for our profession.
How do you think the
interaction between teacher and parent/child differs for online classes vs.
in-person? From your experience, what tips can you offer to make that
Dr. Joy: I thoroughly
enjoy interactions during my classes with both children and parents. My class
is a learning lab for all who are present, including me! Online classes have
made this more challenging. I still consider myself the conductor of the
“Interaction Symphony”, yet, I have had to be even more intentional in creating
this experience from the onset. I have had to establish the form for my
symphony to be created. This has required me taking the time to ask my parents
the following questions:
- What device are you using to view
- Is your sound loud enough to hear
the music played and myself?
- Could you possibly create physical
boundaries so that your child has a specific space during class?
- Do you have your instruments (i.e. shakers,
sticks, scarves, etc.) ready to use?
- Could you please stay in this area
with your child and be present so that your participation is the in-person
model for them during the lesson?
These are just a few
of the questions I ask to establish the form for my “Interaction
Symphony”. If parents do not believe
that their child is engaged, they begin to ponder if or not their continuation
is necessary and valuable. Therefore, it is my responsibility to make sure that
they are ready for success by helping them to understand how to assist me in
this journey. They have become the in-person interaction model instead of me.
The symphony has increased to another level of complexity. I love helping them
to learn how they can become an active participant in this “Interaction
Symphony” virtually! They are a key player! What a pleasure to help them
understand that together we are making an incredible impact in their child’s
What things do you think are lost or gained
from an in-person classroom setting to an online format?
Dr. Joy: A common
topic for music educators has always been how to effectively compete with those
offering other children’s programming. Understanding the research regarding the
importance of music for brain development and mental well-being makes this
crystal clear to our profession. During in-person classes, evidence was seen
weekly. However, moving to an online format significantly decreases these
moments not to mention the side conversations before or after class with
parents or between parents reinforcing these impressionable moments. This is a
Energy and inspiration
is generated for me when I am with children! I just love being with people.
Positive and fun conversations are quite enjoyable! Even sharing the troubling
and sad moments add depth to our relationship and increase our trust in one
another. While I embrace the role of an
educator and entertainer in this online platform, many may find this new
reality uncomfortable for various reasons.
The hugs after an accomplished
“ba-ba-ba” or “sol-mi-do” is priceless. This is just one of the pieces that I,
personally, am missing greatly! If I feel this void, what are the children
experiencing? From the beginning of our pandemic, this is one of the many
thoughts that has weighed very heavy on my mind and heart. Whether in-person or
online, I am extremely intentional in communicating how much I love my
children, how proud I am of them for anything that is accomplished, and how
thrilled I will be to celebrate with them in-person as soon as we are able. Any
life experience can have losses or gains. We, the believers and advocators,
must find a way to move forward and continue the making music with our
Do you feel like once
it is safe to do so, that you will go back to in-person classes only, continue
with online only, or a mixture of both? Why?
Dr. Joy: South Florida Music will definitely offer
in-person classes when we believe all will be safe to do so. We will also offer
a component of online programming as well. While we believe strongly in the
value of in-person classes, we also know that this pandemic has shifted the
paradigm of education delivery. For this reason, as well as the safety concerns
raised by parents and staff, we will need to accommodate both.
We would like to thank Dr. Galliford, as well as the other
participants, in this series. Their unique and experienced perspectives help
Musikgarten to provide a supportive community of children’s music educators and
business owners who are working towards the same goal of instilling the gift of
music into young minds and hearts.
Dr. Joy Galliford, Ph. D., is the Director of Development and an Instructor for South Florida Music and the Executive Director for the Friends of South Florida Music Foundation. She received the prestigious 2010 Florida College Music Educator of the Year Award from the Florida Music Educators Association, and is a nominee for the 2019 Children’s Trust David Lawrence Jr. Champion for Children Award. To find out more about Dr. Galliford and her studio(s), click here.