How music is helping Ruthabella through the COVID-19 quarantine

Story by CBC Kids News • 2020-06-11 14:30

'I wanted to do something more meaningful during this time of physical distancing'

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SUBMITTED BY: Ruthabella Lam

AGE: 14

CITY: Richmond Hill, Ont.

INSPIRATION FOR SUBMISSION: She hopes to show other teens that they can make a difference in someone else's life.

Life without music would B-flat

Everything got cancelled. From performing with the Concert of Independent Schools Music Festival orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall to going to a Niall Horan concert for my friend’s birthday to being a summer volunteer at a hospital — and even the spring music recital at school. All my plans were cancelled.

I was really upset and angry when I heard the news of my events being cancelled and even of school being closed. I didn’t know how to process it all and it felt like someone pressed pause on my life. I thought it was a joke when I heard my school, which has had one snow day in the past 15 years, would be closed until next year.

After nearly two weeks of staying at home watching Netflix, reading and practising some piano and violin, I decided that I wanted to do something more meaningful during this time of physical distancing. I wasn’t sure what I should do, so I talked with my parents and we came up with the idea of free virtual music lessons.

Music is a big part of my life. Whether it’s playing in a band with my friends, singing/playing in school music ensembles, practising my instruments at home or even just listening in the car, all of this has developed into the passion I now have for music.

Before this pandemic, I taught piano to two younger girls, so I reached out to them first to see if they would like to learn via FaceTime. With the help of my family and friends, I have made these music lessons available to many other people from ages five to 65!

Ruthabella playing guitar during a video lesson. (Submitted by Rebecca Chong)

I also have had the opportunity to lead group music lessons for my mom’s colleagues’ children. We have group video conferences a few times a week where I play the guitar and they sing and dance along to the songs. My favourite part was when we sang Old MacDonald Had a Farm. I would bring up an animal stuffy and then they would have to make the noise of that animal.

At first, some children were more shy and they would sit and listen, but after a few times, everybody was standing up and singing and dancing along with lots of energy. I could tell that they were genuinely having fun and that these music lessons gave them something to look forward to because, like everyone else, they are very bored at home!

In addition, we have crafts time where we make DIY instruments from materials at home and we can play the instruments. After making a shoebox guitar, one dad sent a picture of his daughter holding the guitar with a big smile on her face along with a thank you note for teaching her to make such a creative craft.

I really enjoy all these virtual activities, because it’s something to cure my boredom, and I’m able to spread a little happiness while sharing my passion for music with others.

I’m still very upset about all my plans being cancelled, but now I’m trying to look at this from a different perspective. It’s not within my ability to stop this pandemic, but I know that my actions can help others change their attitude.

Like everyone else, this isn’t how I envisioned 2020 would be, but I hope that I’m able to demonstrate that this time of physical l distancing could be the perfect opportunity to use your talents to spread joy to others. If you feel like you’re only a young teenager like me, your actions can still make a difference. If you’re good at drawing, you can do chalk art on the sidewalks to spread positive messages. If you’re good at baking, you can have baking parties with your friends and try new recipes over video calls!

Together we can spread more kindness and create more positive stories out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What have you been creating during the pandemic?

If you are a Canadian kid and have some artwork or a piece of writing that you would like to share, please have a parent/guardian fill out the submission form here.

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TOP PHOTO: (Rebecca Chong, Philip Street/CBC)

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