Piano Lessons In the 21st Century: Utilizing the Internet for Make Ups
This article details the way teachers and students can use the internet and video calls to conduct piano lessons when they otherwise may not be able to take place. The purpose of the information found here is not to advocate for or against lessons conducted over the internet, but instead to detail new ways to use the technology around us as musicians and educators.
Hypothetical Situation 1: It’s Snowmaggedon and your family is snowed in for 4 days. You have a piano lesson scheduled, but neither your teacher nor you are able to drive due to bad road conditions. However, you want to keep the lesson—what to do?
Hypothetical situation 2: Your teacher has broken his or her arm and is unable to drive to you for in home lessons for the next month…but your recital is in 2 weeks and you need final preparation!
Hypothetical situation 3: Because you have an awesome teacher, he has secured a 6 week gig of a lifetime performing in an orchestra festival in Europe. Lessons will be missed during that time, but you as a student don’t want to go without seeing your teacher for that length of time.
What do all of these situations have in common? Both the student and teacher want a lesson to take place, but proximity and ability to connect in the same location are unavailable. So what are the options? Well, with video conferencing technologies like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Skype, you can have a virtual lesson that works very well and keeps your lesson flow and routine from being disrupted when personal contact is not possible.
Setting Up Video Chat Piano Lessons
First, make sure both teacher and student are in agreement upon a platform (i.e. FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, etc.) that you both know how to work. If it’s the first time for either party using these for a piano lesson, a teacher should be prepared to do a little initial testing outside of scheduled lesson time to work out any technical difficulties. If you know in advance that you will be out, assist with set up during a previous lesson, or even talk about it as a “just in case” measure during a lesson and get the wheels turning.
Second, make sure the ipad, computer, or phone is in a position that captures a profile angle close to the keys and hands of the student so that technical aspects are visible. Sometime, parents or a sibling can assist on camera positioning to help lessons go smoother as well.
Third, if the teacher does not have your score (sheet music), you can take pictures of the pages and send in advance. Make sure that feedback the teacher gives is noted in your music throughout the virtual lesson so you can work with the changes.
Fourth, if available as an option, try recording the lesson. That way, you can review aspects you may have missed (you can do this with a voice recorded on a phone).
Fifth, (and this is for the piano teacher), make sure you are at the piano or keyboard during the virtual lesson to play back corrections for the student. Though there is value in commentary, we all know that being able to demonstrate corrections is a much more valuable way to go.
Skpye and Piano Lesson Via Video Chat Can Work
The option of a video lesson over the internet can work very well when you and your teacher can’t connect for some reason, and with a little pre-planning, you can make the experience seamless. I know of several renowned teachers who teach students in other countries via the internet and do so successfully. I suggest looking into the option and giving it a try! Students and teachers: discuss how you can set this up in the event of emergency travel, inclement weather, or other disruptions to a normal lesson routine that needs to be resolved. It’s better to address in advance, but see if it can be used as an added educational tool to stay more in tune with your students.