Online Private Music Lessons: How to Prepare Students

March 18, 2020

This week has been a time of great uncertainty, especially for parents and teachers. I decided this week to move all of my students to online lessons in the hope that I can play a small part in halting this terrible virus in our community. 

I wanted to share with you what I have shared with my private music studio to help any teacher who has might feel a bit lost in this and share what I have found to be helpful in my years teaching online. 

Feel free to use this and share with your students, families and other teachers. We are in this together!

Here are a few guidelines I am keeping for my own private studio:

-Online lessons are not optional. I do not want to risk anything or anyone, so I will not be offering in-studio lessons to anyone.

-Lesson times will remain the same, unless we are rescheduling last week’s lessons in addition to this coming week’s already-scheduled lessons. If you need a change, please follow the same protocol as any normal lesson makeup or reschedule request.

-Cancellations will be permitted for sickness with a makeup lessons scheduled. For the well-being of the students’ progress and studio as a whole, lesson cancellations without a makeup scheduled will be limited, if at all. I will stick as closely to our normal policy as possible and anything extra will addressed case-by-case.

-Lessons will not be extended for small technical issues. I will do my very best to be sure to start every call on time. Having your instrument out and materials ready to go gives us about the same amount of time as unpacking the instrument in our in-person lessons to deal with a small glitch we may encounter. I will use my discretion for situations that arise that take up more time. I will try to be as flexible and fair as possible! 

This is what I asked my students to send:

PLEASE SEND this information to me before we start lessons (I have all of the music on hand, so no need to send photos of music):

-Which app you will be using
-Your username or call info for the app
-Confirmation that your setup is prepared or has been thought through (you know where you will place your device for example.)
-Any questions!

How to prepare BEFORE the lesson:

-Prepare a device for lessons (you can use an iPad, tablet or computer - see placement guidelines below). 

-Download an app (FaceTime for iOS users or Skype for all others).
*A couple notes: FaceTime is preferred, when possible, because there is slightly less lag between visual and audio. Only in cases in which FaceTime is impossible will Skype be used.

-Test the app settings with a family member or friend BEFORE YOUR LESSON. Especially for Skype, the settings may need to be adjusted to ensure the video and audio are working properly. I cannot extend lessons for technical issues since my schedule will stay the
same. If we are having extensive issues, I will let you know if we need to schedule a makeup lesson.

-Place the device (distance and height). The placement should allow the student’s upper half to be fully visible without any steep angles. 
*Violin students, please place the device IN FRONT of you when standing at your music stand, not behind your violin. This should be to THE RIGHT of your music stand when facing the stand. Your device should be at your neck level, facing straight so I can see your bow hold and bow placement, as well as left hand.
*Piano students, please place the device to whichever side of the piano gives the best 
view of the FULL keyboard along with your upper half in full view. Your device should be higher than the piano keys, facing slightly down. 

Your space:
-Free of distractions (siblings, other noises)
-Good lighting
-Ample space for playing your instrument

-ALL music that has been assigned
-Metronome (can be on a device, just not the one that is being used for the video)
-Pencil (no pens)
-Assignment book - YOU or your parent will be taking notes (see below). Please use the same assignment book we use for our regular lessons.

***Please have your instrument out and tuned (for older violin students) and music ready to go before we start our video call. This gives us time to address technical issues quickly if any should arise and have the most efficient lesson possible.
***Please call me at your lesson time. Do not call early! This is essentially you walking in at your lesson time and allows our schedule to stay on track. If a video call is dropped mid-lesson, I WILL CALL THE STUDENT. I only ask for your info below so that I may call if you are late to the call. 

Younger students:

-Parent should help with setup.
-Parent should be present or easily accessible for the lesson in case of technical issues and/or to take notes. I prefer older students to take notes for themselves.

Here are some great iPad and phone stands for lessons.

iPad Stand

Phone Tripod

Phone and Selfie Stick

Stay healthy everyone!

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