There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has changed every aspect in our daily lives, and we’ve all had to adapt quickly to this new way of life. From figuring out how to continue school and work remotely to being isolated from family and friends, this virus really has turned our world upside down. It’s easy to dwell on all the things that are going wrong, but what about the things that have been better? In the last few weeks, I’ve reflected on what positive changes are happening, even though they are sometimes hard to see.
Like a lot of people, there have been many changes in my work life, and I am so grateful that I am one of the lucky few who are able to work from home. Before the pandemic, I had never taught virtual lessons before, although I know that many teachers across the world were already teaching this way. After teaching online for 2 weeks, I definitely miss being with my students in person, but at the same time, I am learning a lot about what my students really understand and my own teaching abilities. Because I am not there to point to certain things in their music or to demonstrate something, I have had to become a clear communicator: my feedback and instructions are now much more specific and descriptive than before. Online lessons are really showing me what my students do and do not understand: can they find certain keys on the piano? Do they really know their finger numbers? Do they understand what all the different notes are called? Do they understand measure numbers? If they don’t, they are learning these concepts much faster because they have to do so on their own!
(my home studio setup- teaching assistant included!)
My students are also becoming better communicators with me as well. If they have a question, they have to be able to explain different musical elements to me. My younger students who have relied on me to point to their music as they play are now responsible for keeping their eyes up and following the notes independently. I believe my students are also becoming better listeners and applying their ear training in a new way. If I hear something wrong in their piece, I will play it back to them correctly, so they now have to be more aurally engaged to figure out which notes need to be fixed. Another huge improvement I’ve noticed is that students are completing their weekly theory homework on a regular basis. I usually text students or parents sometime before the lesson to send me a picture of their completed work, so just having them check in on whether or not it has been done has been a huge success in the theory department!
It’s also been very enlightening to get a glimpse of my students’ pianos at home (for those students who take studio lessons). It’s allowed me to learn about sticking keys, broken pedals, pianos that need tuning, and for those students who use keyboards, if it might be time for an upgrade in the near future!
So to sum everything up- are online lessons effective? Yes. Would I rather teach in-person? Yes. But teaching virtually has allowed me and my students to grow in a way we wouldn’t have before, and I can see how virtual lessons could be useful in the future after this virus has subsided. Virtual lessons can be a great way to get in a make up lesson without anyone having to travel, or would allow for a regularly scheduled lesson to still happen if the student or teacher has a contagious illness. We are so grateful to our families who have stuck with us through this difficult time, and I know I speak for all the teachers when I say we can’t wait to have in-person lessons with you all again soon! Let’s keep making music!