(WSYR-TV) — Michael Miller had two dates circled on his calendar: May 13 and June 26.
May 13 was the Spring Band Concert at Auburn High and June 26 was Graduation Day, his last official duty before retirement.
The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the concert. And, as it turns out, it also erased those retirement plans.
Miller has now decided that he is not going anywhere just yet.
“They’re going to need something familiar, something stable, something they can recognize when they come back to school,” said Miller.
After more than 30 years working with students, the band director believes he can provide that.
The school board welcomed the news, so he has continued working with his band during the shutdown from a distance.
“We’re working on John Philip Sousa’s ‘The Thunderer.’ It was meant to be apart of our spring concert, so we’ve continued working on that,” Miller said.
Students have been submitting weekly videos of different parts of the march to Miller. He then gives the students feedback, no matter how good or bad it is.
“I’m sure you’ve seen the various Brady Bunch videos with all the little multiple screens of folks working together,” Miller said. “When we finish the piece, that is our end goal, is to be able to put together a virtual performance.”
Miller always believed that music can be therapeutic and he is seeing it in the way his online classes help students cope with the quarantine.
“They stay together another half-hour, 45 minutes, interacting with each other,” Miller said. “Sometimes I have to kick them out because I have to go to my next class or my next session.”
And those classes will continue, despite whatever the fall brings.
Miller’s wife is also a teacher, with time left before she can retire. So, the two have put plans to visit their own kids on pause and will help their extended family, their students, transition to a new normal.
“We still love what we do,” said Miller. “As with any career, there are folks that run into that burnout. We’re not there yet.”
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