Switching to Video Lessons

A guide for beginners by an almost-beginner

Guest Post by Garreth Brooke

Switching to video lessons at short notice is stressful!

I live in Frankfurt, Germany, where all the schools are now closed and I made the switch on Thursday afternoon. I’ve taught 6 lessons so far and overall it has gone pretty well. Here are some things I learnt that you might find useful…

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Coronavirus and Piano Lessons

With the World Health Organisation’s confirmation of a pandemic, it’s natural that most of us have become preoccupied, concerned and even scared about what the rapid spread of coronavirus might mean for our lives and livelihoods.

Piano teacher forums are awash with teachers seeking advice and support, but clear, practical and proportionate advice isn’t always available.

A common theme in the advice teachers are sharing is that the best option for many will be to use a video link to continue tuition wherever possible.

For several years, my students and I have already been doing just that, using FaceTime and Skype as a fallback option when coming to my studio proves impossible. And we have found that tuition via video link, while having some obvious limitations, can also offer some unique insights and opportunities.

By minimising disruption to lessons, we can help our pupils to stay motivated and maintain momentum, while as teachers we continue to earn our living.

There are of course dangers inherent in closing down our studios prematurely, stoking alarm, and creating a situation where tuition via video link is used for an unnecessarily extended time to the possible detriment of pupil progress.

Some teachers feel overwhelmed by the technological aspects of setting up a video link; they needn’t. The present situation creates an opportunity for us to embrace new technologies and learn alternative approaches that will both enhance our ongoing teaching and benefit our businesses.

An effective video link, where offered as a temporary solution for students who generally come to lessons, depends on using an easy, no-fuss setup that can freely be adopted by all our students straight away, regardless of their age and technical know-how.

In this post, I will share the advice that I am simultaneously sending to my students, outlining studio policy and explaining to them how easy it is to have their lesson via video link. While some have previously used this option, many haven’t, so I’ve included reassuring instructions.

I should preface this by recognising that most teachers will understand straight away that their studio policies differ from mine. And that’s good. There is no “right and wrong” way of organising a teaching studio, and the fact that we all operate a little differently is a huge positive, enabling those looking for a teacher to select one whose approach best fits their needs.

I should also add that the advice given below is predicated on current official advice in the UK; should I be forced to close the studio at a later point in our national response, I will need to revisit some aspects of the policy.

In the meantime, my aim is to be as flexible and supportive as possible, and offer as much choice to students as I can.

I hope that the thoughts below will be of some help to those teachers who are still considering their options, and in that spirit, here is my letter to students and parents…

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