Pandemic causes small music business to adapt

Music+teacherKaleigh+Mattson%27s+small+business+faced+new+challenges+once+the+COVID-19+pandemic+hit.+

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Music teacherKaleigh Mattson's small business faced new challenges once the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

P. Slater, Graphics Manager

At the beginning of 2020, Kaleigh Mattson’s job as a music teacher looked far different than it does now. She had just started her business when the pandemic hit. 

Previously she taught students out of St. Mary’s Church in Minooka using this space and piano to teach music students, but now she teaches straight from her living room, pet cats and all. Instead of driving to a building and setting up her lesson space with a steady stream of students walking in and out, now a lesson is only one click away. 

Just like many schools and lesson programs Mattson decided to go completely digital at the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdowns in Illinois. 

“I only started this business in January, it had to go from in person to virtual, and at first it was scary, especially with voice,” Mattson said. 

Mattson’s business had to quickly adjust to the new situation, in a way that still engaged students and helped them learn, at first there were some things to work out. 

“It’s the internet stuff. I find that I have to talk slower and it takes some more energy. I used to be able to just go with it in a lesson but now I really have to plan further ahead. The main thing is the internet and technology,” Mattson said. 

The shift to remote learning caused issues that were not something lessons had to deal with before. Now a line of a song could be interrupted by a less than strong enough WiFi signal, or a student’s cat climbing in the background of the frame. 

Like many educators, Mattson found new ways to connect with students and interact in productive ways. 

“I miss seeing people in person, so what I do is use social media, and the website I made.  I try to use that to engage students, I did a virtual recital … it really got the voice students to think about music and the piano students to play and use their hands. It’s using your brain in the same way that school does,” Mattson said. 

Every once and a while Mattson asks her students to record themselves to put together a public digital recital, this helps her and others connect with what students are learning in lessons. 

“Having students record a video of them performing can be nice for their family to watch, but other people can still comment and react. You know, be part of it that way and interact more,” Mattson, said. 

Although the adjustments have been hard Mattson acknowledges the pros in the situation. 

“Now I think it’s better, it’s nice and easy, we just get it done,” she said. “I’ve gotten a lot of new students because their parents put them in classes to interact and get something done besides school Zoom videos. It’s a little bit more interactive than that and it can be done safely.”