PMP193: Taking a Music Break from COVID-19

I don’t know about you, but it seems like every waking hour has been spent adjusting to a new normal, and the idea of relaxing almost seems unkind when you think of all the sacrifices people are making during times like this.

Photo by Tadas Mikuckis – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions

In Oklahoma, school leaders have been managing distance learning for more than a month now. I know it’s the same wherever you are. School leaders are wrapping up their semesters this month or next. Many are still unsure what the summer will bring. Some states are lifting restrictions on social distancing while others are still responding to rising counts of hospitalizations or deaths.

During times like this, it’s hard to keep perspective. Most days I find myself pulled between two extremes…

On the one hand, the quiet and solitude of working from home means less travel, more walks in my neighborhood, and more time to practice music – one of my past times.

On the other hand, I find myself fretting over a crippled economy, knowing that budget failures in states across the nation will equal fewer dollars for schools on tough times ahead.

Staying Focused on What You Can Control

When I hit this crossroads in my own mind, I have to remind myself of two truths: One, it’s important to understand possibilities, data, and projections so that you are aware of what may be ahead of you. 

Two, it’s important to remember what you can control and what you cannot. Although you are able to affect the moment you are in, you have very little control of what will happen in the future.

Having said all that, I just want to remind you that what you’re doing today still matters. As Jen Schwanke shared in one of our previous episodes, be careful not to spend so much emotional energy on what may happen in the future that you miss out on the needs of today. 

Your students, teachers, and community members still need you in the present to reach out, stay connected, and provide necessary supports.

Taking an Emotional Break

But leading from a distance can also be tiresome. And this week I have been growing a little weary talking about uncertainties. In some ways, conversations on COVID-19 become circular – like the 24-hour media stations that keep rehashing the same themes over and over again, looking for new spins on the same stories.

It’s not that the news is not important. It is. But sometimes you just need a break from it. 

That’s why I decided today to take a break from COVID-19 in the rest of this post. In what follows, I’m going to talk about something absolutely disconnected from COVID-19 or even school leadership. 

Instead I’m going to share with you some samples of music recordings I’ve been creating the past couple of weeks. 

Free Resources for School Leaders

Now, the last thing I want to do is become the strange uncle you wish you had not invited to dinner because he wants to show you every photo from his last vacation. So if you don’t want to hear anything about my music, you can stop reading (or listening) right now! 

In the meantime, please check out the nearly 200 other free podcast episodes on school leadership at, or find Principal Matters Podcast on iTunes or wherever you download your favorite podcasts. We’re almost to 400,000 downloads at present, so share them with others, and let’s reach that next milestone. Thanks for doing what matters, and I’ll talk to you again soon. 

A Little Background…

For those of you who are still around, here’s a little background for you. I have an electronic piano that connects to my laptop where I can sit and record while I play songs. Recently, I’ve been going through our church hymnal and picking out old ones I’ve been singing since I was a child. 

I grew up in West Tennessee and spent most of my adult life in Oklahoma. Both states have deep traditions rooted in church and hymnody. Although many modern churches only sing new songs, which I sometimes enjoy, traditional hymns still speak to me in ways that modern songs often do not.

I do not read music, and I am not a formally trained musician, which is obvious when you hear me play. And these are not polished, edited studio recordings. I just love to play music on my piano and guitar. And I normally I try to play songs the way I hear them in my own mind.  

My Music Break

So, if you listen to rest of this week’s podcast episode, I hope you’ll enjoy these old classics I play on the keys. They include:

  • Be Still My Soul
  • His Eye Is on the Sparrow
  • I Need Thee Every Hour
  • How Great Thou Art
  • It Is Well with My Soul
  • Just as I Am

By the way, if you’d like to hear some other songs I put together on guitar while singing during these weeks of social distancing, I have another set I posted on YouTube – all by one of my favorite hymnodists, Fanny Crosby. Check them out here!

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoy listening to these songs as much as I enjoyed playing them. If they are encouragement to you, pass them along to others. 

In the meantime, I hope you’ll take a small break this week from whatever has kept you busy to just do something you enjoy. You need to keep your emotional batteries charged if you’re going to lead an inspire others. Thanks for taking a break with me. And until next time, thanks for doing what matters!

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker