Today I have a question from a member of our mailing list, and its something that is on all of our heads right at the moment, as right now the world has a big challenge – and that is this Coronavirus disease which is appearing everywhere.

The question is “Should I cancel my concert?” – and while I’m not really in a position to give advice one way or the other here I might just offer a few thoughts on this.

Everyone is rightfully concerned about this virus – and no-one wants to get sick or cause others to get sick by holding an event where the virus could be transmitted.

However, a lot of this is just fear. We all have a great deal of fear, and that is being increased right now because the media are reporting this quite a lot – its the major news item on every single news channel right now. So we need to step away from this fear and think about things objectively.

So if you’re having this thought, this first thing I’d suggest is thinking about a different question.

The question is this: “Is it my choice if this concert is cancelled?”

Because if you’re teaching in a school – and you’re employed, and you hold a concert as part of your job… its likely that its not your choice. You might have the concert cancelled anyway, by the administration of the school, or they might tell you to go ahead with it, even if you personally don’t think its a good idea.

So if you’re in this situation it is likely that you have no choice in this matter at all, so why let it cause you stress and anxiety? If this is the case for you, then you need to proceed as if the concert is going ahead, until such time as you hear otherwise from the administration. Then, if you find out the concert is cancelled, then you’re well prepared for the next one, when this whole event blows over. Or, if The concert goes ahead, and those who come, come. Your attendance might be down, and that is fine. You still go ahead with the students and parents who come. Either way you win! You can feel good about the outcome because you have followed instructions and proceeded according to the guidelines that you’ve been given.

So What if your answer was YES to “Is it my choice if this concert is cancelled?”

This could be the case if you’re a private studio teacher, and your concert is a recital of your students. In this case if its your private business, then yes, you DO have the ultimate choice of cancelling or not cancelling.

What I would do in this situation is find out from your clientele what they would like you to do. Its now really easy to send an online survey – you can do this for free with Google forms. You just create a short survey asking “Given the concern about spreading disease at the moment, would you like our planned recital on (insert date) to go ahead?” Yes or no. You then email all of your parents and ask them to please fill in the survey. Then if 50% or more of your respondents say “yes” – then it goes ahead. If 50% or more say “no”, then you cancel it.

If it does go ahead, you make it clear on your invitations that it is everyone’s personal choice to attend or not attend – and don’t make anyone feel bad for their choice one way or the other. That way you stay clear in your outcome of proceeding according to everyone’s wishes.

So this is really about getting to a place where the decision is made, and you can stop the thought going around in circles in your head.

That is the thing that we all do as human beings. We have these thoughts like “should I cancel my concert?” “Should I do this?” “Should I do that?” Often these sort of things can run around in our head and often its a case of just making a decision and going with it.

Will it be the right decision or the wrong one? Who knows. But at least it is a decision, you’ve made it, and you can proceed. Even if you hold the concert and only one student shows up, at least you’ve given that one student the experience they wanted, and there will be other concerts where more will come in future year.

Is it possible that even if you decide YES… the concert is going ahead, the government might cancel all public events, like what happened in Italy recently. Yes, absolutely that is possible! But you can’t worry about that – you just have to proceed today in the same way as that hasn’t happened as of this time in this location.

These are concerning times, but we can reduce the stress on us by deciding first what we’re in control of and what we’re not, and then finding a criteria if we do need to make a decision about this sort of thing.

I found a beautiful quote by American television host Mike Rowe which says “There is a lot of stuff we can’t control, but it is completely in our power to decide what the definition of what a good job is. That’s up to us.”

So that is what I suggest here, most of all. We don’t need to focus on this awful virus – Its just not in our control. We didn’t cause it to happen… no-one did. It isn’t in our control how fast it spreads, where it spreads to, or what happens.

However what we are in control of is what a good job is. That is up to us. We can continue, and we can do our teaching via the internet if we need to. We have to decide what a good job is – and that is making a positive impact in another human being. That is what we do as teachers.. we make positive influences on human beings. It doesn’t matter if you’re teaching a single piano student, or an entire class of eighth graders… you’re still making a positive influence.. today. Every lesson you teach, every interaction you have.

I have one more quote for you, from one of my favorite authors, Steven Covey – and that is this “when the external factors over which one has no control in a way start to become negative, it starts to affect our creative juices”

This is so true! When we start to focus on these things over which we have no control at all occupy our minds, that is when we lose the creative energy we have. The energy to get up and move and make a difference.

Yes, practice good hygiene today. Yes, take precautions, and yes, follow advice from your school administration and from the authorities. However, don’t focus on it. Don’t let it run your day! Focus on the positive difference you can make today, and the creativity you have to make things happen!