Well, it’s the morning after the PM’s address to the nation advising against unnecessary contact and travel, staying away from pubs and theatres and working from home wherever possible. Quite where that leaves us is difficult to say. Schools are still open for now so does that mean educational activity is still encouraged? Probably not, as several interviews stated that schools remained open “to avoid unintended consequences” – i.e. force essential workers to stay home looking after their children rather than turning up for their very necessary jobs.

I fear pronouncements that we are a mature democracy with citizens who can make their own decisions is less about respect for individual wisdom and more about who pays. If one of us decides not to attend an event we have already paid for, we would expect to incur the loss. If the venue or the organisation decide to cancel the event, we might reasonably expect our money back. If the venue or organisation are forced into the decision they might reasonably expect to be covered by any insurance or be able to seek compensation from whoever is forcing them into that position.

It would be a pleasant surprise if the government does not feel obliged at any point in the present crisis to put the country into lockdown and that we were able to take last night’s pronouncement at face value. I won’t be holding my breath, however, and the panic buying in our supermarkets would seem to support my skepticism. Therefore I have decided to take the decision myself.

NEFS
For the fiddle school this means we will not be holding classes for the remaining two Wednesdays, March 18th and 25th. We will still pay the fees agreed with the tutors. Nevertheless we will be offering a full refund to you with no questions asked for the remaining classes. Just get in touch with Ali and we will make the arrangements. For any willing to leave their money with us and able to access the internet, we will be making resource material available online. Plans are afoot certainly for PDFs of notation but also with possibilities for audio and even video content. This may be our way forward after Easter as well, but we shall endeavour to keep you all informed.

TFA
For our wonderful TFA this means that meetings will be cancelled until further notice. This decision is made with some reluctance as I think making music together will be a source of great comfort and inspiration in the coming weeks and months. Apologies to everyone for the change of policy since yesterday but I feel events have overtaken us. To alleviate matters, we will aim to provide material online for your delectation and enjoyment! We will also continue to communicate via email and encourage everybody to do the same. It is a wonderful community we have and this is a time when we really need to look out for each other. So, if you are experiencing any difficulties please, please, please reach out!

JSA
For our Fiddle Technique course at Rydal this weekend, our Advanced Fiddle course in May and our Mixed Instrument course in June, with great reluctance I’m afraid we shall have to cancel these events. We are still holding out for the July course but will keep it under review. These are exceptional circumstances beyond our control, and because of the way in which the PM made the announcement yesterday it is possible that the venue will still charge us as they continue business as usual and we have had to make the decision to cancel. However, we want to support our wonderful JSArts community as much as possible, so what we propose is that, over and above our terms and conditions, we request that people accept as a refund all monies paid minus the costs incurred by us. We can guarantee that this will include all of the teaching element. If the venue is generous with their terms then the refund will include the accommodation costs as well – we will let you know as soon as this is confirmed. If this is not satisfactory then please do get in touch and we will come to an alternative arrangement. In the absence of this face to face course, we are considering the possibility of making the teaching materials available as an online package instead. These could include pdfs of the worksheets with bowing and ornaments, and possibly some new audio recordings or videos of related exercises, excerpts of tunes, demonstrations of bowings etc. If this would be something you are interested in, and might even consider spending some of the teaching element of the course fee on, please get in touch.

Moving forwards, as an avenue for income, sanity and personal satisfaction I will be offering as much teaching online as I possibly can and your support would be very much appreciated. As I am sure you will understand, there will be a charge for these services as a means of providing income for my family. However, many of us are likely to face some financial difficulties in the coming time. If it ever comes to a choice between your next meal and staying warm on the one hand and making music, keeping engaged and staying sane on the other, please just reach out, get in touch and I’ll send you stuff! I feel confident that our wonderful community will realise that this is likely my sole source of income for the next few weeks and months and not abuse this. On the contrary, my worry is that people will not take up the offer when they are faced with stark choices and needlessly do without. Don’t! Reach out, support each other and we will come through all this together.

All the very best,
Stewart