Teaching Piano

Teaching Piano During the COVID-19 Pandemic

At the time of this publishing, the world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in the U.S., the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is recommending no gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks, so most events are being canceled. Many of us (depending on which state you live) are experiencing canceled school classes, university classes, and work. The local grocery stores keep running out of basic staples, because everyone is stocking up. The pandemic’s effect is deep and wide, and our response is important. The recommendations call for us to regularly wash our hands and practice “social distancing” to avoid possible spread or exposure to the virus. The goal is to slow the spread of the outbreak (i.e., “flatten the curve“) to avoid overwhelming the medical facilities in this country for the sake of those of us who will require medical care when the virus is contracted. This is a time for us to pull together and be community-minded.

What does this mean for our piano teaching? For me, as it so happens, I’ve been on maternity leave from teaching for the past six weeks. My student base is currently comprised of a handful (due to having recently relocated here) of students in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a day’s worth of students back in Northwest Ohio — an hour’s drive commute to the studio where I rent a room. I had planned to resume lessons soon, but due to the pandemic situation I’ve put all in-person lessons on hold.

Instead, I’ve reached out to my students and suggested that we continue lessons via FaceTime/Skype/Zoom. School may be canceled, but there’s no reason piano can’t continue! Perhaps for us and our students, continuing piano practice and lessons with us all feel a small bit of stability and normalcy during these intense times. And certainly, for many piano teachers there is a natural concern about finding a way to maintain a level of income during these difficult times.

And so, many of us are moving our piano lessons online. In this blog post, I’d like to share some tips and advice for doing so — things I’ve learned from experience teaching online lessons occasionally over the past few years.

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Forum Q&A's, Technology

Forum Q&A | Piano Lessons via Skype

Last week’s Forum Q&A post was about saying “no” to potential students, and we received some great responses!  Click here to check them out.  Here’s today’s discussion topic:

Advances in technology over the past few years have changed the way we live in many ways.  Online video conferencing services, for example, allow us to chat face-to-face with friends and family across the globe….and conduct piano lessons?!  With internet services becoming faster and audio compression quality also improving, offering lessons via video conferencing services such as Skype is becoming a more and more viable option.  It certainly is something for piano teachers to consider.

So, I’ve been doing some research to see what I could unearth about the set-up, feasibility, and success of Skype lessons.  Here’s what I found:

So, what are your thoughts?

Do you think Skype is a viable option as a way for independent music teachers to offer lessons?  What are the biggest adjustments or changes that the teacher and student would have to make in order for Skype lessons to be successful?  What pros and cons can you identify?  Would you ever offer lessons via Skype? 

Leave your comments below.

Update from Joy: I’ve decided to take the plunge and start offering live online piano lessons!  Check out the link to read more about me as a teacher and about how online piano lessons work.