Agency Spotlight: Harmony South Dakota Q&A

Harmony South Dakota is one of several programs that is relying on technology to continue to carry out the organization's mission. Dan Goeller, Executive Director of Harmony South Dakota, has shared some information about the organization and how their services have evolved in the last couple of months.

Can you tell us about Harmony South Dakota?
Harmony serves students (at no charge) Monday through Friday from 2:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., every day that school is in session, plus 4 weeks during summer break.  Students ages 9-16 participate in choir, orchestra, and percussion ensembles. Orchestra members receive a 20-minute weekly private lesson. Our younger students (ages 7-8) participate in our Harmonics class for one year before joining our orchestra. 

How does your organization help children?
Harmony South Dakota cultivates the life skills necessary to become healthy and compassionate citizens while fostering a harmonious community where everyone is known, loved, and valued. Harmony empowers children and positively transforms their lives through immersive music education and performance.

How has your services evolved in relation to COVID-19?
During this period of social distancing, our staff’s main objective is to continue providing social interaction and development for our students. Since virtual ensembles are not possible–due to the delay that occurs in online meetings–our staff transitioned to providing private online lessons for our students. In addition to weekly lessons, our teachers have posted online practice videos that allow students to have guided practice in between lessons. We also want to continue maintaining our relationships with our kids, so we have regular online group and individual meetings to ensure that students and their families are doing well. 

What does a current day look like now for your organization?
Our staff stays busy each afternoon teaching private lessons online, leading Zoom classes, and having one-on-one meetings with our kids. We also have weekly online staff meetings to coordinate all of these activities.  We fill the rest of our time creating videos, audio recordings, and other educational content that we utilize in our online offerings.  We’ve also been busy pursuing private and government grants to fill the funding gap we’re experiencing as a result of the economic effects of Covid-19.

What is one unique thing you love about your role and/or Harmony South Dakota?
I love seeing how music can be a universal language that brings out the best in our community as it brings us closer together.

What is something you want people in our community to know about needs and/or services in our community?
We need to find creative ways to contribute to one another’s lives while we navigate through the uncertainty and disruption we’re all facing. Even though we may have less resources and/or greater challenges, it is in finding ways to contribute to one another’s lives that we will not only survive, but learn to thrive in this unprecedented time.

You serve a population that found a change in their lives with finishing the school year at home, what tips, ideas or resources do you suggest to help your students and others to ward off isolation or loneliness?
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude helps us remain positive amid the uncertain times in which we’re living. It’s also important to remain in contact with people and not become social isolated while we’re social distancing. You might want to check out the videos of our Harmony kids singing and playing on our YouTube channel.