'We Are Your Teachers'

MEMS music teacher records song for students

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MANCHESTER — For Manchester Elementary Middle School music teacher Keira Carmichael the social isolation was too much to bear.

After nearly two weeks away from her students and alone in her Bennington apartment, the new MEMS teacher resorted to what she knows best and loves — her passion for music.

"A lot of teachers right now are struggling with how we're going to handle this online teaching and music teachers are no different," Carmichael said. "There are enormous questions we're all asking ourselves. It's a lot of pressure on families, on us and on kids."

She said she knew she wasn't alone in her questions and concerns despite being completely alone in her apartment with her two cats.

"I just picked up my guitar and started playing," she said.

At first, the guitar was more for comfort. But soon, she realized something more was happening as the guitar licks and words began flowing into a song about teachers reaching out to comfort their students' fears.

The result, lyrics to "We Are Your Teachers," were written and Carmichael recorded herself performing the song and uploaded it to YouTube.

Using the app, Acapella, Carmichael recorded herself playing the piano, guitar and singing two-part harmony.

"I wrote it for my students in Vermont and for my students I used to teach in Washington state and any and every student who's having kind of a hard time right now," Carmichael says in the video. "I hope this tune brings you some joy and comfort."

Carmichael, a Brattleboro native, returned to Vermont last summer after teaching in Washington, Colorado and a semester in New Zealand.

It was late in the evening on March 28 when the video was completed and Carmichael posted the song to her Facebook page and went to bed.

"I was so surprised the next day," she said. "There were so many shares. I had something like 50-something notifications."

She said people she had talked to in a long time had liked, commented and shared the song including friends and family as well as her student's parents and other teachers.

She soon saw that the song was meeting a need people had at this time of fear and uncertainty.

She created a YouTube video of the song and as of Wednesday, the song was approaching 1,000 views. That may not qualify as going viral in today's social media-obsessed world, but the song was getting more attention than what Carmichael expected.

As important to Carmichael, some of the first comments on the YouTube video came from her students, including several former students in Washington and at least one from a MEMS student who said, "Wow Ms. Carmichael, your starting [to] get famous."

"Miss. Carmichael," as she's known in the halls at MEMS, responded to each, creating a bond that is hard to maintain during these hard times.

Carmichael said she's always telling her students to try something, take a chance and not worry about it being perfect.

"If I ask them to take risks and be brave and trust me," she said. "I needed to do that with myself."

But, now, she admits she's sorry she didn't clean up a few little mistakes in her recording.

"I didn't think it was going to go as far as it did," she said. "Now I'm kind of kicking myself. I had to be OK with it not being perfect. It's something I tell my students all the time."

She said other teachers are sharing it with their students and a vocal teacher in Bennington sent her a message and thanked her for doing it.

"People are reaching out I haven't even met," she said. "We want to be there for each other but some of us don't know how yet."

Carmichael said she has only written and shared three pieces of music in her entire life and the process isn't easy, even for a music teacher.

"Sharing a piece is really scary," she said. "There's always that thought that says it's not going to be good enough. 'What if people think you're a horrible music teacher because you made a mistake?' But, nobody is demanding perfection but myself."

And with that mindset and a whole lot of time on her hands, Carmichael now has another song she's working on with the hopes of releasing it by this weekend, called "I Miss You Friends," about her students.

"It's literally about missing my students," Carmichael said.

Carmichael said the experience has been a learning experience.

"We all hold more power than we think we do," she said. "I honestly didn't think this was going to be as effective as it has been."

To learn more about Carmichael, check out her website at www.KeiraCarmichael.com. To hear the song, and maybe a second song, search for "We Are Your Teachers" on YouTube, or go to https://youtu.be/OraHZIkrEnw.

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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