Chances are, your piano teacher is wanting to move to remote piano lessons during this global pandemic. But it’s understandable if you aren’t sure about this. You might be wondering things like:
- Will this really be like regular piano lessons?
- Is it even possible that this can be as good as in-person lessons?
- Why should we continue lessons when the economy, my job, other things are so uncertain?
- Doesn’t this just mainly benefit the teacher financially?
- What should I expect at the first online lesson?
These are all valid questions, so here are few answers and things to consider.
Will remote lessons be like regular piano lessons?
When it comes to learning new music and receiving guidance in how to practice, it will definitely be similar! But the ways in which the teacher will make these things happen may look different. The student will continue to polish current pieces and learn new music just like before. But the teacher will have to adapt how they teach concepts and introduce new materials. Thankfully, since thousands of teachers are temporarily moving to this mode of lessons (and hundreds of teachers were already doing this prior to 2020), your teacher has a whole community of guidance and ideas to help them adapt.
But think about it! What better way of managing stressful circumstances than to manage it through making music! So not only is it helpful to continue lessons, but it’s part of becoming and staying healthy during this difficult time. It’s so important for students to have an artistic and expressive outlet during this uncertain times!
Is it possible that online piano lessons can be as good as in-person lessons?
Judging by the number of teachers and platforms that taught online piano lessons before this crisis, the answer is yes! Now, that’s not to say that in-person lessons don’t have advantages, because they do. But there is no reason to believe that online lessons can’t be as effective as in-person lessons. As a matter of fact, remote and online piano lessons have some advantages:
- The online lesson allows the teacher to see how the student interacts with their at-home piano. Pianos can differ greatly in terms of touch, tone, pedal sensitivity, etc. and it’s actually quite helpful to have a teacher teaching the student on the piano on which they practice every day.
- In some ways, they can be better! The online piano lesson requires that the teacher interact differently with the student. Since they cannot point to the page, they often find themselves asking more questions and lecturing less…which is always a good thing since it engages the student even more.
- Online lessons can actually improve a students’ level of responsibility and thus increase their progress since the teacher will not be able to write in their book or write down their assignments for them (though they might email them). Requiring them to make their own marks in their books and writing down their own assignments, though it does take more time, will help the student remember their assignment better and practice more effectively from week to week.
Why should we continue lessons when everything is uncertain?
That’s a great and truly a fair question. When times are uncertain, routine is extremely helpful in calming our anxieties. This is especially true for children. Routine can be one of the most powerful things in regulating our anxieties and your child has probably been taking lessons long enough that the regular routine of weekly lessons and daily practice will be a tool in helping them manage their uncertainty.
In addition to the weekly lesson with your teacher, daily practice is also a routine that helps children and adults. It occupies their minds and gives them something for which they can set goals and see improvement.
Plus, children need more than just parents to help assure them that things are going to be okay. The piano teacher is one of the most consistent people in your child’s life (considering that most kids have the same teacher year after year). Continuing lessons is like giving the gift of another adult that will not only help assure them that it’s going to be okay, but that will help them use music as therapy in this troubled world.
Doesn’t this just mainly benefit the teacher financially?
Continuing in lessons will of course help your teacher continue to make a living. They depend on this income and you continuing to take lessons will help them. But I hope that you can see from the above answers that this is in no way just about the teacher making a living. Your teacher is making this switch to keep you safe, to keep themselves safe, and to make sure that you are continuing to learn how to play music beautifully.
There is absolutely no reason why online piano lessons will not continue to help the student make progress!
And considering that thousands of teachers around the world are now giving lessons online (many of which were doing this long before this global pandemic), this is a very normal course of action that should in no way impede the progress of the student.
Your child has more time to practice now than ever before!
I know that’s not a question, but it’s such an important thing to consider at this time. Your child doesn’t have sport to think about and won’t be gone during the day since school is at home for most kids. Now is one of the best times for kids to make music and to progress more quickly than before!
What should I expect at the first remote or online lesson?
Be ready to be flexible! Things won’t go perfectly at the first lesson, but both you and the teacher will adapt and in a few weeks, you’ll adjust to the new normal. Here are a few tips for the first lesson:
- Be ready to spend a bit of time making sure that the camera or device is placed just the right way to help the teacher see the student’s hands and your face. It’s most helpful if a parent can be in the room for at least the first 10 minutes of the lesson to help position the camera.
- Do all you can to make the room quiet. It’s amazing what the microphone on a phone will pick up, so if you have other children running through the room or another conversation going on the phone even in another room, this can be a big distraction for the student.
- Be flexible in the first lesson and in the first few minutes of each lesson. There are always adjustments that have to be made, so flexibility is key.
- Make sure all the books, assignment book, and a pencil are at the piano. The student will need to make marks in their own notebook and write down their assignments, so giving them what they need to do this is important. If you have a particularly young child or child that is easily distracted, it’s especially helpful if you can be present.
- Remember that the sound on a phone or mobile device is delayed and will be somewhat distorted. Sometimes you can adjust this by not using a headset, or using one, or using speakerphone, etc. But even with the best of devices, the sound will be a little delayed and may not be perfect. The teacher will have to adjust to these things and here’s an article for teachers on adjusting to the imperfections.
What if we just can’t continue lessons?
If you have lost your job or have significant changes in income, then lessons right now might be impossible. And if that’s the case, I’m sure your teacher will understand. But it’s important take time to talk to your teacher about it, not just text them or email them. Pick up the phone and let them know what’s happening in your life. They won’t want you to quit, but I’ll bet they’ll understand if you’ve lost your job or your income.
We’re in this together. But don’t forget to communicate because if you really have to quit, it’s going to be hard on the teacher too.
I hope this article helps you understand not only how online lessons can work for the student, but also how they can actually help the student and teacher!
My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this, especially my piano teaching friends and all their students. But we can pull through together. I love what Bréne Brown says:
Please leave any questions or thoughts in the comments below!