Clarksburg Boy Details Coronavirus School Struggle In Parody Song

GERMANTOWN, MD — Amid the stress and disruption caused by COVID-19, an 11-year-old Montgomery County resident is bringing some laughter and levity to the public.

Ilan Shterenberg — a fifth grader at Cedar Grove Elementary School in Germantown — recorded a parody of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” in which he belted out lyrics about his struggles logging on to an online class.

“I wonder if there’s secret code for us to reach the tech support. But you don’t really have that info, do ya?” Ilan sang. “Well it goes like this: the fourth, the fifth, the sixth attempt — it doesn’t help! My baffled father screaming at my laptop. Who can change my login permissions? Let me log in to Zoom meeting?”

The four-minute YouTube video has more than 181,300 views as of Tuesday, April 28.

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In an interview with Patch, Ilan said he was inspired to write this song after watching similar videos with his mother, Katya.

“When the pandemic started, my mom and I saw some musical parodies on YouTube. My favorite one was a Les Mis parody by a family in the UK,” Ilan said. “I liked how clever it was, and all the humor and passion that they were putting into their performance. Watching it made me forget about all the bad stuff for a little bit.”

Writing about the struggles of online learning during the coronavirus pandemic didn’t take very long, Ilan said.

“I would say it took probably 30 to 40 minutes to write the rough draft. My mom helped me with a few things, and when dad came up to have lunch with us, I played it for him as a surprise. After I sang it for the first time, we came up with some small edits, and decided to record the song,” he said.

Katya shared the video on her Facebook page, the family’s YouTube channel, and a couple of “mom groups.” Within hours of sharing the clip, it went viral. Soon enough, people on every continent — except Antarctica — saw the video, according to Katya.

“We absolutely didn’t expect this type of response!” Katya told Patch. “Someone wrote almost immediately: ‘I woke my daughter up to show her the song, and she hasn’t regretted it!’ Then more and more people started sharing it with each other because, I guess, it resonated with so many of them.”

Ilan’s parents can’t get enough of the song.

“My husband and I loved the song! We think that it reflected Ilan’s sense of humor,” Katya said, noting how impressed she was with Ilan’s rendition. “Sometimes his humor and ideas really surprise us.”


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