FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) After cancelling events from its 2019-2020 season, the Fairbanks Concert Association (FCA) has prepared a series of performance videos for music teachers and their students in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District to use for teaching.
The videos were funded by a GoFundMe campaign which received 46 donations. (Photo Courtesy of Fairbanks Concert Association)
According to FCA Executive Director Anne Biberman, the association traditionally puts on live outreach events near the end of the school year, including master classes, concerts at Hering Auditorium and guest speakers at various classes around the school district. These events reach up to 2,600 students annually.
“It’s a way for kids to get direct experience with professional musicians, and it’s been very helpful,” Biberman said.
The 20-part video series was put together and produced by Caitlin Warbelow, an artist from Fairbanks who, according to Biberman, has achieved Broadway success. Warbelow reached out to artists and helped to create the series.
“Caitlin is a person of tremendous resources and ability, and she and her partner Chris Ranney produced really terrific videos with a very impressive lineup of artists,” Biberman said.
To come up with a list of valuable topics and performance ideas, FCA reached out to music teachers around the district for input, including Gwendolyn Brazier, a music teacher at Barnette Magnet School and North Pole High School.
“They asked us what we wanted and who we wanted to see, and so we made a giant list and we posted as much information as we could about what would help us in our classrooms,” Brazier said.
Like many teachers during the pandemic, Brazier was forced to adjust her classroom style to accommodate remote learning. She coped with the adjustment by supplementing her Zoom class meetings with private lessons.
“Music is such a social experience, and so our kids got that social part during the Zoom class, which is great -- but then we had to do a lot of paper learning and a lot of book learning instead of the hands-on, which makes music a completely different experience,” she said.
The series of videos is intended to provide some amount of what was lost during the transition.
“We can still have performances. We can still have that beautiful culture and art in our town, it’s just going to look a little different,” Brazier said.
The videos were funded by a successful GoFundMe campaign which, according to Biberman, accumulated its target amount through 46 mostly local donations. “That money went directly into the hands of professional performing artists,” Biberman said.
Brazier appreciates the effort that went into creating this program, saying, “I’m extremely grateful, and I know that my colleagues are also extremely grateful, because this will help us set up our kids for a positive year this next school year, especially with all of the undetermined ideas of what the next school year is going to look like.”
She added, “It’s extremely humbling to know that there are people out there who care as much about our kids learning as we do.”
Biberman sees an opportunity to expand the video program in the future. “I don’t think we’re completed yet. I think there’s a lot of opportunities for online education, and in the coming months we’re going to go back to teachers and talk to them about what else we might do that would be helpful to them and to the community at-large.”
The videos can be viewed on the Fairbanks Concert Association’s website .