Monthly Archives: March 2020

Tips on Improving Your Video Lesson

By now, more than a few of you have opted for the virtual lesson. The live video music class has it’s advantages and it’s short falls. Once we are passed this phase, we can still use video lessons as tool during more ordinary times. When the student can’t come in but is still at home, lessons while at the cottage, lessons when the student is sick but not bed ridden, etc.

Make up lessons maybe completely avoided this way but classes can also be made up this way in the future.
We are using

The Upsides

Of course the obvious upside of the video lessons is being able to continue them through this interruption. Going forward, the upside will be in the form of making attending lessons weekly even easier.
One hidden benefit of music lessons via internet video, is that it is great for the ears. Our ears are an obvious, but sometimes overlooked, learning sense.
Hearing the teacher play the piece or passage correctly, combined with watching the music, really reinforces the co-relationship between what we see and what we hear and what we play.

Another upside, we are hoping for, is getting away some families and students away from confusing the lesson with the practicing. When I hear a parent or student refer their lesson as ‘practice’ (as in Johnny can’t make it to his music practice, see you next week) It may be a slip of the tongue in this sports oriented world, but it may also be indicative of thinking lesson time IS the practice.

Time Lag

The number one difference and downside is the time lag (AKA latency). This prevents the teacher and student playing at the same time. This can vary but is always there. We have souped up our internet connection at the school but here is what you can do at home:

  • Wired connections are best but that is only practical for portable instruments like guitar, ukulele, sax, etc.
  • Avoid using a phone, the screens are just too small and the speakers too poor for students to see and here the teacher
  • Move the tablet or laptop so the teacher can see the student and their hands (and feet in the case of drum students) and the student can still see the screen.
  • With younger students and the more prone to distraction types, a parent really needs to be near by.
  • To combat lag, stutter and freezing, make sure that no other heavy WiFi resource is hogging bandwidth. That means Netflix, YouTube, general streaming, etc.
  • Where possible use plug in ear buds (the kind with the built in mic) this can combat a number of sound issues
  • Typically these lessons are, demonstration by the student, critique by the teacher, corrected playing by the student, demonstrating by the teacher etc.
  • Where we are seeing the most issues are voice and drum set lessons. With drum lessons, acoustic drums overload the mics on tablets and laptops. With voice, the teacher is always the accompanist and since real time isn’t possible this can present some issues. For drums we may need to switch to practice pads or just sticks on a pillow for a few lessons. For voice students, we are going to make some vocal warm-up videos and post them on our YouTube. During your lesson you can sing a long with them for the teacher to hear. Hopefully we can find karaoke style backing tracks in each student’s key, send links and those can be used during lessons as well.

Thanks to all for sticking with us through these changing days! Your support means so much to us!
Hopefully these few tips can help us make the video lessons a decent replacement to real life lessons until real life returns to us.

Take care, Robert Burton

Our Strategy During These Weeks

In these 2 weeks leading up to March Break we are going to continue with lessons as usual. We will continue the same way after March Break.
Private music lessons are among the safest of activities to participate in at anytime. Our rooms are large enough for ‘social distancing’ with only 2-3 people in a room.

The Waiting Area

We do ask that you not crowd the waiting area, come up stairs if you want but just let your child in the school or, in the case of adult students, just come in. If you need to wait nearby you can wait in the hall. If you see the waiting room is occupied, please wait till it clears

Cleaning Protocols

I am going to be honest, clear and blunt here with you; we have 9 years of experience dealing with kids coming to lessons sick. I have lost count of the number of times some student was too sick to go to school but was still sent to music lessons.
Now (and anytime of the year) if you or your child is sick, stay at home.
We have had disinfectant wipes in every room for 9 years. All of us here have been doing self-employed “gig economy” since before it became a catch phrase. Teachers and staff are constantly wiping down the pianos and contact surfaces. If we get sick, we don’t get sick days.
We are incredibly invested in cleaning our work spaces, always have been, always will be.

Going Forward

If any of our students gets sick they should stay home. If they test for C-19 they should stay home.
We do offer make-ups for serious illness, always have, always will.
If you feel fine but are part of a self/family isolation we will have live video lessons available at your regular time with your regular teacher.

We have no plans to cancel the recital, suspend lessons or close up shop. We want to continue providing music lessons for our students, provide employment for our teachers and staff while keeping every body’s health a priority. I thank you in advance for your patience and calmness as we navigate through these days together.