Lessons and Group Classes in the season of Covid-19. We now offer the option of online lessons in addition to in-person lessons throughout the year. We are going to open our home studio back up this fall and will accept students in-person or online. You may choose one or the other, or a mix of in-person and online. In the event of a relapse in the community, we will hold all lessons online, including group classes. When group classes are in our home, we may ask parents to drop off their children exceptionally this year so we have less people in our home at once. We may even break the groups into smaller classes if it seems necessary. We have arranged our studio space with our pianos next to one another so the teacher can be at a separate instrument to demonstrate throughout the lessons. We will have space available in the vestibule for your coats and boots, and a bottle of hand sanitizer at the door. We ask the students to also wash their hands (as usual) before their lesson begins, as well as after. We also ask you to talk to your children (who are friends with ours!) to go directly downstairs upon arrival and avoid our living spaces for the time being. It breaks my heart to put up these barriers to our social connection, but we want to preserve our health in the short term so we can live in our wonderful community in the long term. We ask that all parents wear a mask and children old enough to feel comfortable may do so, as well. If you or your child have the sniffles, or feel a bit under the weather, please err on the side of caution and take your lesson online for that week.
What can you do as a parent to support your child through online lessons? Moving lessons online has been stressful not only for us as teachers, but you as parents, and also for our kids. Having to relate to a screen can be dispiriting, as well as the sometimes occasional, sometimes all-too-often breaks in the internet connection. The uncertainty of how the lesson will continue can make it difficult to focus. The absence of some of the fun things we would do in our in-person lesson to break the intensity of learning (like made up music, or off the piano activities) is another loss. I have been astounded by the tenacity of these kids, though, their calm in the face of technical difficulties, and their capacity to continue to learn, grow and thrive. This is in no small part thanks to you, the parent. Without your perseverance and positivity, creativity and commitment, we would have had to abandon their musical learning until things returned to normal. We are becoming aware that we will have to modify our usual way of doing things for the foreseeable future, and by your ability to adapt to this new way of learning, you are teaching your child resilience in the face of change. I applaud you! And the kids (And me, for learning how to Zoom, luddite that I am!) What we can continue to do is be as consistent and prepared as possible for lessons, have the most powerful computer option set up and in place, with your child ready at the piano a few minutes before the lesson is scheduled to begin. You can reassure your child that if they don’t understand something the teacher says, you the parent are there to help communicate. We can take longer to do things, master skills more before moving on to new things, which are sometimes more difficult to transmit over the internet. We can prepare them for the eventuality of a poor connection, and have them continue with the song we were working on until the connection returns to normal. We can laugh about the silliness of the frozen faces that come from time to time. And we can remember that this, like regular lessons in our home studio, are just a small fraction of their musical journey. The magic happens in their daily practices at home, with real live parents!
Children sometimes become too stressed out by a poor connection to continue online lessons and stop lessons. If you are able to find a solution with a more powerful computer or connection, or moving the piano closer to wifi, or installing an ethernet cable for a clearer connection, that might be the cue to try again. If the parent can stay committed to finding a solution, the child will follow suit.
Changes to our schedules and work and school lives moving into the home have made life a lot more loaded for the parents as their responsibilities with homeschooling have intensified their lives. This may just be the season to let go of lessons for awhile. And that is okay, too. Come back when you are ready!
As always, please let us know if there is anything we can do to support you. If practice or lessons aren’t going as smoothly as you would like, don’t give up before communicating with us. We have experience both as teachers and as parents and have dealt with most everything. There are not always easy answers, but we are here to support and encourage, as are the other families so don’t be afraid to reach out!