Let’s hear from the kids! Seesaw’s junior reviewers share their experience of lockdown, and how engaging with the arts helped them through.
Matthew Appleby, aged 9 ·
During COVID I played the piano. I had more time and we weren’t rushing off to school so I started each day with piano.
Playing piano was amazing. I have been learning piano for three years with my mum as my teacher, but I’ve never practised this much before.
I began playing more interesting and difficult pieces. They are more interesting to perform for other people and I feel more confident playing at school now.
One of the best parts was making up three tunes from songs in my head, combined with little bits of other songs I know. I spent more time playing by ear, things like the Harry Potter theme song. I like to change my songs by changing the key or rhythms or speed. Once you’ve learned a song you can demolish it and make it your own and add in the tunes in your head.
My favourite song is ‘The Magic Man’ from Alfred’s Method which I’ve renamed ‘The Cockroach Song’. One hand goes fast which is the cockroach running away and the other hand is slamming down chords which is the human trying to squash it with a thong.
Now I have a habit of going to the piano any time I feel like it because I have a song in my head that I want to play, or just because I like playing the piano. I like the sound and the feeling of my fingers going fast. When I’m bored or my brain is buzzing I play the piano and it lets the energy out.
I spent a month trying out PianoEasy which is a program run by Anneka Pearton in Fremantle. She has put all her teaching online. I started with the adult program because I had already been learning piano. Anneka’s videos made it really easy to practice because I could see her hands on the screen. I also liked it because you don’t have to rely on reading music to learn the songs. I have learned all my chords from Anneka and how to play the blues. I have also learned Raindrops, Claude’s Moon, Mad World, Hallelujah and Aurora which is my favourite because it feels calm to play. It is a good song to play when people in my house feel sad.
I recommend Anneka because she is fabulous at explaining clearly, even on a video. She makes me get excited about playing.
I did lots of things during COVID lockdown but piano was one of the best. It was fun at the time and will give me more fun in the future.
Saskia Haluszkiewicz, aged 10 ·
My favourite things to do during the lockdown were all to do with the arts.
I read a lot of books, including the entire series of Narnia and Percy Jackson. I think I read 17 books in about 6 weeks because I love reading.
I did lots of painting and art as well, because I have an art table and Mum bought me extra paints and paper. I also had online sewing lessons with my Grandma and we used fabric to make a picture.
I spent a lot of my free time listening to music and Granny gave me a CD of famous ballet music. I’m learning clarinet at school so I practised that, and I managed to continue with my piano lessons on Zoom. It was a little challenging and I definitely prefer to do it in person. The teacher can demonstrate so much easier in person. I did a lot more practise at the piano because I had more time to sit down and play. I found I was playing around more with the keys and making up my own tunes, which was fun. I think it helped me to learn more about piano.
I also had poetry lessons on Zoom with my Granny along with my cousin in Canberra. My favourite poem that we did was The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. I also reread my favourite poem ever, The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe. My cousin and I used one Zoom lesson to write our own poem to our Great Granny in England who is almost 98. We put in it lots of things about her life.
Mum and I watched some classic Australian movies during lockdown that I enjoyed very much: The Rabbit Proof Fence, My Brilliant Career and The Getting of Wisdom.
My very best moment in the lockdown was my birthday. I couldn’t visit my friends so they arranged a surprise, all to do with artwork. They drew pictures and made paper birds and they decorated my front porch early in the morning as a lovely surprise. It looked beautiful.
There were lots of things I missed during Covid-19 lockdown, but I had more time for some things, and I think being interested in the arts helped me a lot.
Asha Grandage, Age 8 ·
I have been learning piano with PianoEasy for 9 months. It is a really fun group lesson. During the coronavirus lockdown, our lessons went online and we learned on Zoom.
Here’s what a normal lesson looks like: The teacher (in my case, Anneka) plays what will be learned that day, then shows the right and left hand. Next, a volunteer, with help if they need it, plays it. Then the students each practice it on their own piano or keyboard and the teacher will listen in to everyone and help. Sometimes there will be an end-of-lesson concert.
We learn a huge variety of skills: chords, classical pieces, jazz, blues, pop songs, reading notes, and there is lots of singing. It’s very fun to write your own songs too.
Every lesson Anneka makes really funny jokes in the middle of class and everybody laughs.
I wasn’t sure about doing Zoom lessons, but Anneka made it all work brilliantly, and the technology is easy to use.
I love how helpful Anneka is. You never feel left behind, because she explains things so well and is there to help when you need it.
I am excited to keep playing piano! Other things I have loved during lockdown are art, drawing, craft, bike-riding, bushwalks and family time.
Picture top: Matthew Appleby says playing piano was one of the best parts of COVID lockdown. Photo Rosalind Appleby