Xavier was first introduced to the cello back in 2019 through his bi-weekly group classes at Chopin Elementary in Humboldt Park—a Merit Music in Communities partner with a robust in-school strings program. He was eager to learn his new instrument and picked things up quickly. “The cello has a great sound,” says Xavier. “I feel good when I play. It’s fun!”
As much as he loved the cello, though, the now 10-year-old struggled to stay focused in class and sometimes played his cello out of turn. But his music teacher, Carolina Gomez, understood that this was all just a part of how much Xavier loved the cello so she worked closely with him. Together, they found creative ways to keep Xavier more engaged in class. But when the pandemic hit and remote learning commenced, Ms. Gomez was concerned about how Xavier would transition to learning in a virtual setting. She worried it would be too much for him. Would he be able to successfully focus through a screen? Would he lose interest in playing the cello?
“Xavier thrived in the virtual learning setting. He was always early to class with a tuned cello, eager to learn, and ready to improve his cello skills.”
Carolina Gomez, Cello instructor
Xavier, 10, practices the cello during remote learning amidst the pandemic.
To Ms. Gomez’s delight, just the opposite happened: “Xavier thrived in the virtual learning setting. He was always early to class with a tuned cello, eager to learn, and ready to improve his cello skills.” And thanks to the mute button function, Xavier could play his cello when he wanted without disrupting the rest of the class. He could get up and move around in his room if he needed a screen break and was able to ask for help from his mother when he needed assistance.
“The fact that he kept up his cello online was great,” says Elaine, Xavier’s mom. “I love that Xavier enjoys playing music and he does really well at it.” Elaine has also noticed how Xavier’s confidence has grown with the cello. He has faith in himself and knows that he can keep improving with practice and hard work. Now that in-person instruction has resumed, Xavier is more excited than ever. “It’s excellent to be back in person,” he shares. He knows that his teachers, who he says are “awesome”, can help him even more when they are face-to-face. Most of all, he is looking forward to improving his skills and having the opportunity to learn “even the hard songs” this year. Good luck, Xavier!