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  • eleanor tagart

Please don't bring your kids to me when they're sick.

If the last 18 months has taught us anything, it's that viruses affect different people in different ways: a "little cold" for a child is four days in bed for me, which equates lost income. If Dan gets it too and he's unable to work, this can can equal up to two thousand pounds of lost income between us. As small businesses, our margins are narrow, we can only earn if we can work: there is no one else to cover for us, and there is no sick pay.

When I started teaching full time in 2002, I was sick for two years. Nothing major, just what felt like an unbroken succession of colds, sore throats, and low level viruses. After a sore throat that lasted six months, I finally caved to my mother's badgering and went to the GP. After an extensive examination, The GP declared that I was "Suffering from bad luck", charged me sixty dollars, and told me about washing hands, not touching my face, and keeping my distance (sound familiar?), because children are plague ridden germ factories (his words, not mine).

My health improved, and then I moved to the UK and was constantly sick for two years. The science here is a little nebulous: viruses don't respect international borders and are readily carried around the world, and I don't really think it was to do with a whole host of new pathogens that I hadn't been exposed to, rather that my guard had been let down by all the changes in my life; and I was working in schools again which I hadn't done for about seven years. Whatever the reason, I was ill. A lot.

When I started teaching from home again and could control the level of hand washing things improved, then about four years ago when I got my second piano and they improved even further. I even went a full year and a half without a proper cold, which is my current all-time record.

I notice when children are sick, and it upsets me: the younger the child is, the less likely they will be able to manage their symptoms responsibly, which is why I clean the piano between players and insist on proper hand washing.

If you or your children are sick, please stay home, if they're not so sick that they can't concentrate, then we'll zoom the lesson, it's not ideal, but it's better than nothing. If I am infected by a child who brings the virus to me, that means not only that child may miss their next lesson, but all the other people I teach are also likely to miss out.

Happy practising, and stay well - and if you aren't: stay away!

Photo: Anjanettew

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