I was impressed with how quickly everyone got on board with it. We were able to get last week’s review listened to and this week’s new material learned for the most part. There were some technical glitches at times, but we are all going to go into next week’s lesson better prepared.
Last year a lovely family, 3 boys of whom learn piano from me, were living overseas. We had Zoom lessons all year and it all worked out pretty well. They came to my home before the lock down this week, but now, after less than a term of lessons face to face, we are about to go back on line again. Thanks to them I was definitely much more ready for this week.
Things that helped in the process:
- Having light from a window from behind the pupil’s piano made it harder for me to see what they were doing. Once we adjusted that, the overall light on the screen was hugely improved.
- Having their device up higher than the piano at an angle similar to where I usually sit helped.
- Where I would normally give them music they didn’t have in a lesson, I was able to send .pdf copies by email.
- It was good to be able to make sure everyone was set up correctly at their instrument in their home setting. This was especially helpful for younger ones who were just new this term.
- It was easier than I thought to do a cello lesson, because the camera for the pupil was on the music stand, and therefore much simpler to set up than for the piano/keyboard lessons.
Expectations going forward
I think, once the tech side and angle of the device is sorted, we can have a pretty normal lesson. I can show some things from my keyboard, though perhaps not quite as well as during face to face lessons. I didn’t use two cameras for most of this week, so I’ll have another go at that. During last year’s overseas video lessons the connection seemed to glitch more with two cameras, but I think it may work okay for local lessons. This will help when I am teaching the learning by ear parts of my curriculum, also for showing detailed fingering or creative ideas.
I can see that it will be a help to be able to use video lessons to make up missed lessons in the future. With a new familiarity around a video lesson there should be more confidence to do this.
For new (beginner) pupils it has been harder to convey what to do, because the expectations of the way I do things has not yet been fully established. Generally, a full term face to face with new pupils would be much more preferable for both parties, if possible. With having to go into video lessons so soon, we have had to limit some things to the most manageable. Maybe that’s where two cameras would have made a bigger difference.
When I teach at schools, there are often other activities that force music lessons go to the back of the queue. Missing a weekly lesson makes more of a difference to a child’s progress than most people realise. I’ve offered Zoom lessons before for missed lessons, but not often been taken up on them. Maybe that will change. We know that necessity is the mother of invention. It is so good to be able to get some positive wins from the enforced stay at home.