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Remarks by President Biden in a Roundtable on the American Rescue Plan - The White House

State Dining Room 3:25 P.M. EST THE PRESIDENT:  Thanks for being here, everybody.  This is important, and I appreciate you being willing to come and tell your stories. I wanted this to be a conversation about what the impact of the $1,400 that our plan has for every American out there, and to make sure that I understand what you think is important about it, if you think it’s important. And I also want to — you know, the people you’re about to meet, the millions of people who are going to help with this — I think — with this check, that’s going to make a big difference in terms of their lives.  And people in the country are hurting right now, with less than two weeks from enhanced unemployment checks being cut out.  And 7 million kids don’t have enough food; 13 million people are behind in their rent.  And the American Rescue Plan, I believe — and according to the polling data, the vast majority of Americans believe — is essential to giving them some help and to turn it around. A

Discussing Dance Music Journalism with Jordan Mafi [Industry Spotlight] - EDM Identity

Discussing Dance Music Journalism with Jordan Mafi [Industry Spotlight] - EDM Identity

Discussing Dance Music Journalism with Jordan Mafi [Industry Spotlight] - EDM Identity

Posted: 24 Dec 2020 12:36 PM PST

Jordan Mafi

After the launch of her Dance Music Journalism Masterclass, we caught up with Jordan Mafi to chat about her roots in the scene and more!

Since first making the transition from being a fan to a member of the music industry, Jordan Mafi has continued to prove that she can tackle and excel at any role that has presented itself to her. Driven by her passion for dance music and rave culture, she's done everything from being a freelance writer and Executive Editor at NEST HQ to Host on Insomniac Radio and Curator at Beatport. Now, after years of hard work, she's offering up the knowledge she's gained for others who aspire to become music journalists.

Launched earlier this month, Jordan Mafi's Dance Music Journalism Masterclass was born out of her desire to help journalists, both new and old alike, grow to become strong writers in the scene. She recognized that courses taught at Universities, including her alma mater San Diego State, did not prepare those who took them properly to tackle topics within the realm of dance music. So, she compiled her invaluable experience to create a one-stop-shop that's a perfect place to start.

Journalism is messy, it's the first rough draft of history, but this masterclass from Jordan Mafi is one that will help steer the growing dance music blog scene in the right direction. Covering everything from the ethics of journalism and writing about music to the art of interviewing and even maintaining a reputation online, it's a course that anyone who intends to have a career as a writer in the music industry should take.

After the release of this masterclass and realizing how immense of an informational treasure trove it is, we reached out to Jordan Mafi to discuss the state of the community, her own beginnings, and the spark behind the course itself. Head over to her website to sign up and take it, and read on for the full conversation with this multi-talented member of the dance music scene.

Hi Jordan, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today. Before we dig into your more recent projects, I wanted to kick off the conversation by diving into your history a bit. So let's turn back the clock, what (or who) were some of the initial influences that helped foster your passion for raving and dance music?

Thank you so much for having me! Oh man, I was just thinking earlier today about my first rave in 2010. I grew up in San Diego and I loved going to hardcore shows at venues like SOMA and Epicentre but I experienced my first rave when I was 13 at the World Beat Center in Balboa Park — this was back when all-ages events were a thing and I totally understand why these types of events were banned shortly after. [Laughs]

After that first time, I completely fell in love with rave culture and I was dying to attend more events. Events like Scream happened once a month, so I'd spend the entire month in between events making kandi, listening to all the hot new electro house and dubstep, and planning my outfit. I've always been obsessed with music, but those experiences as a teenager are the foundation of my relationship with dance music.

One glance at your socials will tell everyone that you truly love the harder styles of dance music. What is it about the high energy sound that you feel people might be missing out on? Why should dance music lovers listen to hard dance?

Funny enough, I couldn't handle hardcore when I first heard it and I especially never thought I'd be drawn to uptempo hardcore! I like to compare it to eating hot sauce: at first, you can only handle a little bit of heat — that's hardstyle — but then you can work your way up to something hotter — that's raw hardstyle and mainstream hardcore — until you're craving the hottest, most thrilling experience you can possibly get — that's uptempo and terror. I couldn't help myself from escalating to faster beats and higher energy and now, I can't imagine my life without hard dance music.

Whether it's hardstyle or hardcore, there's nothing like the energy of massive kicks on a loud sound system. Some of my favorite memories include dancing under the electric sky at EDC Las Vegas to a sunrise set from DJ Mad Dog and AniMe or even a cheesy happy hardcore set from Darren Styles. One of the most incredible things about the harder styles is the fans: I firmly believe these are the most dedicated people in all of dance music. When I traveled to The Netherlands to attend Dominator, the world's biggest hardcore festival, I was surrounded by hundreds of thousands of hardcore heads with their bodies covered in tattoos of their favorite artists and labels, dancing like it was the end of the world.

Your initial steps on the industry side of the scene came from your work as a promoter, internship as a booking agent, and DJ for KCR at SDSU. Reflecting on those years, could you tell that there was something about being "behind the scenes" that drew you deeper into the industry?

It's kind of crazy to think back to those days because I was painfully young and completely unaware of where my career would take me — I was only 16 when I graduated high school and moved on campus at SDSU which kicked off these other roles you've mentioned. I think at the time, I just so badly wanted to be the person that could make things happen within the music industry. Because of my passion for music, I wanted to be responsible for giving artists their moment to shine and I wanted to show other fans like myself different styles of music that they might just end up loving.

Jordan Mafi

In 2018 you made the jump to OWSLA's media platform NEST HQ and quickly ascended to become their Executive Editor. Although it's now defunct, what was it like working with them during that time? Was there a moment that you can share that sticks with you today as truly special?

I'm still blown away that I managed to make this a part of my life and my career. I was a huge fan of the blog in college, so it was a trip to become a contributing writer and eventually move to Los Angeles to become the editor. Working at NEST HQ was both an exciting and unpredictable experience overall — I had the ability to put on for any artist no matter their genre or popularity and that's what I loved the most about it. Working for somebody like Skrillex was very rewarding and often challenging because I just wanted to do my best to represent the collectives of OWSLA and NEST HQ.

I have a billion silly little stories from our experiences in the office, but one moment I'll never forget is when our whole crew went to Skrillex's notorious Coachella after-party in 2018, just a few weeks after Avicii tragically passed away. Sonny cued up "Levels" and played the whole song in its entirety and a bunch of us cried and hugged each other, realizing that life is really damn short and it's moments like these that we need to cherish forever.

Since then, you've joined Beatport's team as a Curator who tackles numerous genres on the platform. Can you tell us a bit about what your day-to-day looks like? How do you dig for those gems others may have missed?

I am so grateful for my role with Beatport and I love keeping up with so many different genres. I'm the only curator in the United States and I'm also the only woman on my team; my teammates are all based in Berlin and they're fantastic curators!

My day typically starts very early (usually 7 a.m.) with meetings with my team since our time zones are so different. Once I'm all caught up with my teammates, I spend my days updating my genre pages with new content I decided to feature, creating Beatport charts with the best new music or themed playlists, checking in on all my high-priority releases, researching the newest trends in dance music thanks to blogs and Reddit, and creating content for Beatport's Instagram profile. I listen to absolutely everything that gets delivered to my genres on the store no matter how small the artist may be, so I can snag hidden gems like a pro at this point.

Building off that, is the sheer volume of music that drops each week ever overwhelming to you? What are your thoughts on the pace of the scene right now on the release front?

Whew, there is A LOT of music that comes in each and every week. Since I manage eight genres, I receive about 1,000 tracks each week in my genres alone. Things feel overwhelming when it's a particularly weak batch of releases and I can't seem to find a lot of music I like, but that just makes the weeks where so much good music comes in that much better.

I often see artists who release tracks every single week and I can't help but wish I could tell some of these artists to slow down — this scene is certainly not a race (despite the pressures that make it seem that way) and there's no need to stress yourself out by trying to keep up with an aggressive release schedule. True fans will wait for the right music.

Jordan Mafi

One of the most exciting things that you've shared recently is the launch of your new Masterclass that's focused on Dance Music Journalism. What prompted you to develop this course for aspiring journalists and those looking to hone their skills?

When I started writing this course, I had no idea it was going to be such a big project of mine — it's definitely the biggest project I've ever worked on and it was tough yet rewarding to do it all by myself. I started The Dance Music Journalism Masterclass with the goal of teaching aspiring writers (like myself before I started writing for NEST HQ) all the ins and outs of this industry and how this type of writing is so different from standard journalism. There were so many unspoken rules that I had to learn the hard way throughout my time at NEST and plenty of factors that I didn't even learn in journalism school, so I want to teach these lessons to aspiring dance music writers so they're totally prepared for a lucrative career in dance music journalism.

The Masterclass covers a number of topics ranging from industry terminology and writing about music to tips on how to properly interview artists and maintaining your reputation. If you had to choose one part that you feel is the most important for others to learn, what would it be and why?

It's so hard to choose one part, but I'd have to go with the section about journalism best practices. I know there's a lot of EDM bloggers who don't hold journalism degrees — which is totally fine — and haven't learned about the principles of ethical journalism and what it means to adhere to best practices. I've worked with people in my past who didn't know a thing about journalism ethics and there were plenty of situations where I had to step in to avoid serious consequences. Even though we're writing about dance music and things aren't always controversial, it's important to remember your writing should serve your community in an honest, ethical way.

This year has been filled with ups and downs, yet many of us continue to find new ways to press on in life. How have you stayed motivated throughout the pandemic, and what are some things that you're excited for in 2021?

The only thing that's kept me sane throughout this time is staying busy. On top of my day job, I'm also pursuing my master's degree in music business online through Berklee College of Music and I'm so fascinated with all my classes. In 2021, I'm looking forward to the return of live events and receiving my master's degree at the end of the year — this year has been so exhausting and disappointing in many ways, but I believe all of this heartache will be so worth it once we're back to living our lives as we did before.

I just wanted to say thank you again for diving into your history and current projects with us, it's been such a pleasure. But before we go, I have one final question. Who was the artist that stood out to you the most in 2020 and why?

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about my career and my new course — I'm so grateful for this experience. I loved so many artists this year, but I was honestly the most impressed with Timmy Trumpet. He's seriously a jack of all trades when it comes to EDM and knows how to write a hit in so many different genres. In 2020, he experimented with faster tempos (check out "Falling" in collaboration with Nicky Romero) and released quite a lot of hardstyle as well — his music is my absolute guilty pleasure and I can't wait to see him perform when shows come back!

Connect with Jordan Mafi on Social Media:

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How the pandemic got music educators to think outside the box - DC Metro Theater Arts

Posted: 24 Dec 2020 09:00 AM PST

In a typical year, Sound Impact reaches some 8,000 students throughout the United States and Central America. But typical, 2020 is not. The upheaval brought on by the pandemic left this collective of chamber musicians and soloists undeterred. In just a few months, they designed a free web series that takes children on a journey through time and space to explore how music has evolved across cultures and centuries.

"Until this point, we didn't know about producing something, making videos, performing online, being creative with what we had at home," said co-founder Danielle Cho, an independent cellist who usually performs regularly with the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), the Washington National Opera, and the National Philharmonic. So it's equipped with just rudimentary gear and their boundless imaginations that 14 professional musicians created the raucous and informative "Time Travel Goes Digital."

Fourteen musicians from the Sound Impact collective take us on journeys through time and space to discover the origins, history, and evolution of music in their 'Time Travel Goes Digital' web series. Video: Sound Impact.

The 10 episodes, each lasting only about 15 minutes, are based on a program the group previously presented at Music at Kohl Mansion near San Francisco and through its partnership with the NSO. Rather than create digital content to replicate the live experience, Sound Impact transcends it with the series. The first few episodes introduce children to the basics of musical language and various instrument families, mostly relying on the music of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. Fair enough.

But the tightly packaged series quickly moves beyond the standard fare, organically integrating non-Western music and works by women and other underrepresented composers. On a topic like "overcoming adversity," viewers learn about not only Beethoven's deafness but also British suffragette Ethel Smyth, the Metropolitan Opera's first African American soloist Marian Anderson, or Florence Price, the first female composer of color to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra.

"Being a Black female from Jamaica with a biracial daughter, I have to relate to something," said special education teacher Keisha Johnstone, whose colleagues and students also hail from multiple racial and cultural backgrounds. "To be able to see that there's so much more out there, so many females doing things you're not used to seeing them doing, it's empowering."

Screenshot from Sound Impact web series 'Time Travel Goes Digital.' Regino Madrid, Danielle Cho, and Jerome Gordon perform Johannes Brahms's Hungarian Dance No. 5 for the first episode. Photo: Sound Impact.

Most of the material was filmed inside the professional musicians' own homes, creating a sense of scrappy intimacy rarely seen before the pandemic. From their living room, backyard, or neighborhood park, they take us on journeys through time and space to discover the origins, history, and evolution of music. Musical jokes abound, set against a backdrop of history and vignettes.

The production team worked across three different time zones with a producer based in Spain and presenters on both U.S. coasts. A budget of just $11,000 went mostly toward production and compensating performers. Thanks to the digital format, they featured living composers, instrument makers, and other musicians in various locales while reaching a much wider audience. The series has already garnered more than 5,000 views, including educators as far away as New Zealand. Plans are underway to expand the series and develop additional online content that could complement future in-person engagements.

"This time has just given us a wealth of opportunities, new growth, new friendships, new perspective," said Cho. "Of course, there are challenges and it's not always easy. As an organization, it makes you think outside the box."

Members of the Sound Impact collective in their web series 'Time Travel Goes Digital.' Screenshot: DC Metro Theater Arts.

The musicians themselves are an eclectic bunch with ties to Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the Caribbean. In episode 6, violinist Regino Madrid talks about his native Philippines while wearing the traditional barong tagalog shirt made of pineapple leaf fibers. He performs with Cho and violist Jerome Gordon the popular kids' folk song "Bahay Kubo" (Nipa Hut), composed by Felipe Padilla de Leon (1912–1992), who studied at New York's prestigious Julliard School. Bandoneon player Javier Cárdenas, from Argentina, talks about this portable organ's origins in Germany before segueing into the Quinteto Latino wind quintet performing an arrangement of tango revolutionary Astor Piazzolla's "Libertango."

Teaching in an all-virtual setting is challenging for teachers. It's exponentially more difficult when the students have severe developmental disabilities. And yet Sound Impact's program "was able to captivate" students and help them retain in-depth knowledge, said Johnstone. To explain tempi, Gordon, the violist, walked, ran, and sprinted on the lawn to the beat of various tunes. Music, as violinist Juan Jaramillo says in one episode, "is all around us."

"It's the characters, it's the graphics, the fact that they were actually playing their own instruments," added Johnstone, who teaches at Marcia D. Smith School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, under the umbrella of Community Support Services. "It became personable because you saw them in their own homes. It was not just like watching a video, but you felt like you were part of it. It wasn't just, here's an instrument, but here's how it relates to our culture, where did this instrument come from."

The ability to connect is innate for this set of musicians whose origin story lies in a 2012 performance that moved audiences in ways they had never experienced before. The three co-founders played a specially commissioned piece by Polina Nazaykinskaya, "Haim," honoring the life of the late David Arben, a Holocaust survivor and former Philadelphia Orchestra associate concertmaster who taught Jackson. Each performance brought people together. "It was all with the desire to take our love of chamber music and create a bigger impact in the world," Richardson recalled.

Sound Impact launched a music festival in one of Costa Rica's most destitute areas, La Carpio, located next to San José's huge landfill. Photo: Sound Impact.

Since its formal launch in 2013, the organization has put community engagement at the forefront, connecting with hospitals, schools, homeless centers and juvenile detention centers. In Costa Rica, Sound Impact started a music festival in one of the country's most destitute areas, La Carpio, located next to San José's huge landfill. They donated instruments and music materials, taught master classes, organized concerts, and offered scholarships to visit the U.S. In coordination with the Foundation for the Advancement of String Education (FASE), local teachers received intensive training. A separate program is underway with Panama's Funsincopa, including online courses popular across Latin America.

"Our three words that we like to use are connect, engage, and empower, and that's really our mission, also to take music outside of the concert hall," said Cho. "We really want to break down cultural barriers, and bring hope and light through the music."

The kid favorite "Frozen" serves as an example of how films use music, while a string trio performs the sequel's song "Into the Unknown." Emmy Award–winning television composer John Wineglass then speaks about his craft and creates a new, Christmas-inspired piece on the spot. In a male-dominated field, the series is also quick to point out that only four women have received Oscars for their compositions. Regina Harris Baiocchi makes an appearance, explaining that "composing music is like writing a love letter to family and friends and for posterity." And collective members play Jessica Meyer's "I Only Speak of the Sun," inspired by a Rumi poem.

Tiffany Richardson, a violist who co-founded Sound Impact with Cho and violinist Rebecca Jackson, said the series provides levity in an otherwise challenging period. "It's actually really great to be a small, young, flexible organization," with an annual budget of just $65,000 and no salaried employees.

"Sometimes that comes at a disadvantage, but during these times, it's allowed us to be really nimble and innovative, and provided us flexibility to just pivot very quickly and work with our team wherever they are," Richardson added. "It's given everyone an opportunity to really be themselves in a different way, which musicians don't always get when we're on a concert stage."

In order to help explain some of the trickier concepts, the musician-hosts created colorful characters like "fine musical art and facts collector" Professor Fiddlestein and Bridgette Jones, whose wooden bridge compatriots help create sound by bearing the weight and tension of strings on instruments like the violin or double bass. Dr. Counterpoint shows how several melodies are played against one another. He makes Baroque sound "cool," while wearing a backwards baseball caps and shades.

The man behind the character, Robin Whitehouse, is also a multi-instrumentalist who explains the workings of a harpsichord by demonstrating at the keyboard and showing the individual parts of an instrument he built himself. He then performs a piece by British abolitionist Charles Ignatius Sancho, who was born on a slave ship in the Atlantic around 1729. In August, Whitehouse lost tens of thousands of dollars' worth of audio engineering equipment and instruments in a Santa Cruz wildfire. Despite the added hardship, he kept handling the series' audio mastering and even made repeat appearances in character.

The pandemic, Richardson concluded, "helped us innovate in ways we never thought of before." The collective has grown, clinching new partnerships with schools and arts organizations. Public access television channels in Washington and in Alexandria, Virginia, are showing "Time Travel." Eight public school systems have signed up to use the program in Virginia, New York, and California, with additional partnerships in the works. Some schools will also get ukulele instruction or music assemblies as part of tailored programs. Educators have access to additional accompanying educational materials in both English and Spanish adapted to various age groups through sixth grade, and the episodes have closed captioning as well.

Sound Impact took its ukulele class, Little Ukes & Friends, online for kids in the 4–8 set. Beyond introducing basic chords and strumming patterns, staff brought in living composers and international performers of various genres.

The pandemic has brought unprecedented innovation in classical music, a field too often seen as stale, austere, and anachronistic. That's also because there are few other options for viability at a time when concert halls and even alternative venues have fallen silent, closed to the public indefinitely. There have been unusual collaborations, a cellist playing on Paris rooftops and in empty museums, endless livestreams from empty halls, or students from around the world performing with professional musicians in virtual concerts.

"A lot of musicians are stuck in 'this is the only way you can be successful,'" Cho said. "I think now, as a 21st-century musician, we have to be thinking there are other ways to create revenue, to create income, and do what you love."

About Sound Impact pre-pandemic (video produced by David Neidlinger)

Holiday Fund: CSMA's arts education moves from the classroom to online - Mountain View Voice

Posted: 24 Dec 2020 09:51 AM PST

When local schools and businesses closed their doors due to COVID-19 in March, the Community School of Music & Arts acted quickly to move its in-person art and music classes, lessons, camps and concerts to an online format.

"Many of our offerings could be presented online with little disruption. Faculty members received training in best practices for online teaching, and staff made some adjustments to the way programs were offered to be more compatible with a virtual format," said CSMA's Executive Director Vickie Scott Grove.

Indeed, the school has maintained a robust schedule of virtual arts learning and concerts throughout the pandemic.

A more challenging question, however, was how to continue serving the tens of thousands of students served by CSMA's Art4Schools and Music4School programs, which provide sequential, standards-based arts education in public schools -- and in many cases are students' only access to arts education. In Mountain View, these programs are supported by donations to the Mountain View Educational Foundation and offered in partnership with the Mountain View Whisman School District.

According to Art4Schools Program Manager Jennifer Mineer, "We have been so impressed by the hard work and innovation that our incredible teachers and school partners have put forth to continue art and music education for students who are learning from home. Our district partners work tirelessly with us to address everything from scheduling needs to instrument distribution, and, as a result, we are able to seamlessly integrate arts education into students' online school day."

As a result, the Art4Schools and Music4Schools programs are bringing a dose of creativity to online lessons in every elementary school in the Mountain View Whisman District.

Two CSMA art teachers, Wendy Ron and Karla Navarro, describe what it has been like teaching online.

Ron, who teaches at Stevenson PACT Elementary, says that though she misses seeing students in person, virtual learning has its upsides. She has seen introverted students open up more since they can now type questions to her in the chat section of their screens and her younger students now "have no problem keeping their hands to themselves."

One of her favorite things about teaching online is seeing parents, siblings and pets join her classes.

"We are engaging with families right in their homes. Students are excited to share the art they have hung in their room or around their homes," Ron said.

She is happy to provide parents with a moment of peace: "I am grateful (parents) can rely on me to connect with their child in a meaningful way and to support them in a moment of need. That makes me feel really good."

Bilingual art teacher Navarro teaches at the District's Spanish immersion school, Gabriela Mistral. Her favorite teaching moments have been watching students' reactions to her lesson plans. She says her students "always have genuine, honest responses. Their expressions of excitement, wonderment and curiosity are so pure."

Despite the occasional technical hiccups, she finds satisfaction in teaching online "knowing that it's (my students) on the other side of the screens eagerly waiting for me."

Navarro's favorite lesson is teaching fourth graders about California missions using line, contour and perspective. In the process of teaching this art lesson, Navarro ensures her students learn about land acknowledgment and the Native American experience around the missions.

"Art is my favorite subject," said Mistral fourth-grader Nicolas P. "I look forward to Friday (lessons) all week. I like how Ms. Karla tells stories about the history of art while she teaches us. She's a great teacher, who's very kind to kids and knows a lot about art and all the things behind it."

CSMA is one of seven local nonprofits that benefit from donations to the Voice's Holiday Fund. By partnering with Silicon Valley Community Foundation to administer its annual Holiday Fund campaign, 100% of charitable donations go to agencies serving the local community. CSMA uses contributions support important programs such as financial aid and the in-school arts programs serving public school students who may not otherwise have access to an arts education.

Gering schools adapt to socially-distanced Christmas - Scottsbluff Star Herald

Posted: 24 Dec 2020 02:06 PM PST

Thursday afternoon was a nearly perfect late-fall day for caroling.

Different classes of Geil Elementary students gathered at different pre-decided points around the Heritage Estates in Gering. Residents of the senior living facility pulled chairs up to their windows facing the students. Despite the warm sun and the cool winter air, the windows of the Heritage Estate stayed shut.

Then, the students gathered outside, some dressed in green and red clothes adorned with reindeer and candy canes, and began to sing. As more and more classes began to arrive, the sounds of caroling could be heard from any point outside the Heritage Estates.

The Geil Elementary students, like other performances around town and online, mark the start of Christmas in Gering.

"It's one of those traditions around the holidays," Gering Public Schools spokesperson Jennifer Sibal told the Star-Herald. "I think that it signals it's the holiday when you get to go to your children's or grandchildren's holiday performance."

The challenge this year would be how to still send that signal while social distancing. Sibal said it became clear in October and November the concerts would have to be moved to a new format. At the time, the Panhandle Public Health Department moved Scotts Bluff County — and by extension the school districts within it — into the orange section of the risk dial. For Gering, that meant further restricting visitors from entering its buildings.

"Once we started really discussing that, we thought, how can we still engage our families in a meaningful way," Sibal said.

Caroling at the Heritage Estates was one change. So was moving all elementary concerts online, such was the case for Lincoln Elementary.

"In Music class at Lincoln, I started to prepare the music for a program in the middle of October, at that time not knowing how a concert would look," Lincoln music teacher Leigh Anne Tofflemire said. "We decided to go virtual for all of our December concerts ... based on where we were at the end of October according to the PPHD risk dial. At that time, an in-person concert didn't seem safe or feasible."

Lincoln Elementary live-streamed each class's performance individually from the Gering High School auditorium. As Ms. Renteria's first-grade class sang up on the stage, Mrs. Hulbert's class helped sing from the audience, and then the two switched. First grade and third grade performed on Monday, Dec. 13, and Kindergarten and second grade performed Tuesday, Dec. 14.

Planning a smooth virtual concert was much different than planning an in-person one, as Tofflemire experienced, especially when students are constantly in and out of school for quarantine. Trying to get everyone on the same page was a difficult task.

"We had many quarantines happening throughout these last couple of months, so it has been difficult to progress in the music like I would like to," she said.

It didn't stop the students from putting their stage face once the cameras were rolling. Tofflemire said she was proud of her students' performances despite the challenges.

"I think the students did an outstanding job of learning their music and getting it 'stage-ready,'" she said. "We are so excited to share our festive music."

The YouTube links to Lincoln Elementary's performances can be found on their Facebook page. They were also sent in an email to parents.

Additionally, students performing in the virtual performance were given "Home for the Holidays" packets that included hot chocolate recipes, bingo cards and links to performances. They also coupons to Fresh Foods in Gering for hot chocolate supplies and cards to mail to distant grandparents wishing to view the shows.


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