Good Riddance to 2020

Mike Lawson • Perspective • December 3, 2020

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Mercy, was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade without marching bands just a big downer, or what? But I digress…

Nothing magical is going to happen on New Year’s Eve when the clock strikes 12:01 and it becomes 2021, but 2020 will be clear hindsight. You see what I did there? The irony of all of this bad stuff happening in the cliché of “hindsight is 2020” isn’t lost on me, and likely not on you.

We can learn a lot from looking back over the last twelve months. Things started off, for me, pretty good, actually. It was Technology in Music Education’s (TI:ME) 25th anniversary with lots of exciting plans in place for teaching music education technology to teachers. I was at NAMM in January, presenting our first-ever NAMM/TI:ME sessions on music technology to educators and came home without being sick from a show of 120k in attendance.

In 2021, TI:ME will present 10 sessions online for NAMM’s “Believe in Music” week. Next, I quickly made it to the Ohio MEA for more standing-room-only TI:ME sessions, and then off to TMEA for a celebration of TI:ME’s 25th anniversary, during the annual pre-conference (which in 2021 will be also be, you guessed it, online). I came home from TMEA with Type-B flu. Coronavirus was just starting to enter the news. I didn’t catch it, thankfully. Two weeks later, I was all better and went to the American Bandmasters Convention, held at a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. I came home from it with a very nasty cold, but still, it was not COVID-19.

My band’s gigs, after five years every other Monday at a major Nashville venue, canceled. My new 2020 hybrid plug-in Prius, in the garage, with a massive 2330 miles on it now nearly at the end of ten full months of ownership. The rest of the MEA and student travel and festival trips planned for both TI:ME and SBO, canceled. Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany, canceled. Summer NAMM, canceled. Fall MEA’s canceled. Winter NAMM 2021, canceled.

It didn’t take a psychic to see what the year was going to look like after I got home from ABA. I knew immediately this was going to have a devastating impact on education, student travel, the massive amount of travel I normally endure, and the immediate and even foreseeable future for well, everything. Like the majority of Americans, I hunkered down. I wear a mask. I distance.

At SBO, we retooled. While gratefully no jobs have been lost, thanks to the dedicated and steady hand of our owner, Terry Lowe, we did convert to digital-only for the time being, able to keep rolling after a big drop in student travel and other music education advertising, with the offset in printing and postage costs, not to mention travel, helping to ease the transition.

But then, most of you were going digital now, too. We were able to convert the vast amount of our readership to receiving the digital edition, and for that, we are grateful. We strongly refocused editorial to help you teach in hybrid and remote formats. We spotlighted amazing educators!

Personally, I put to use the skills I learned from my music teachers and used a lot of my time here at home making music. Many of my childhood music teachers recognized this would be my lifelong passion, and it still is. I have never written and recorded and released so much music (along with videos! Subscribe at

Word on the street from our travel advertising partners is that they expect to get very busy again, sometime before next summer helping you get ready to plan the ever-so-critical festivals, performance, and other student travel opportunities for your programs. They are hopeful, as we all are, that by 2022, you’re again heading out to destinations for the part of music education that was completely taken away this year by COVID-19, and that was student travel.

We could all write a book on what we learned, but we don’t want to be reminded of it. For the moment, good riddance to 2020. Be careful so I can see you at one of these reemerging festivals or parades or theme parks, workshops, or more in the future.

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