A guide for my piano students who are moving to online lessons on a temporary basis. I hope this post helps other students who are moving to online learning.
The set-up in this post is basic and at no extra cost, for students who don’t want to spend on setting up for online lessons. It is meant for my students who usually learn in-studio, and take online lessons just once in a way. Or who move to online lessons on a temporary basis for a short period of time, and will return to in-studio lessons after that.
It’s time to take precautions so that COVID19 doesn’t spread, and be safe.
The Online Lesson Format at Anitaelise Piano Studio
Lessons will be held at the same time slot as In-Studio lessons. Partner slots will be divided equally between both partners for online lessons. Partner students will need to Whatsapp audio recordings of an assignment, for their partner to view, so that each student hears his/her partner performing.
Be sure that you set-up at least a day in advance, and run through the Set-up Check-list below, so that setting up just before class is quick, and your lesson isn’t disrupted with set-up issues.
Dear Parents and Students : Please note that changes in the class format are based on our lessons this past week. I think these changes will help this online lesson feel more personal, and help us connect in the way we do in an in-studio lesson. All changes are marked in pink.
Part 1 : A Phone Call.
I will call you on the phone at your lesson time so we get a few minutes to say hello before we get into the lesson.
- Tell me about any topic that’s important to you, and what you’ve practised this week.
- Read out your list of homework assignments to me.
- Talk to me about anything else that’s on your mind or any other topic you are interested in outside of you homework assignments.
- And if there’s anything you’d like me to focus on in your class.
Part 2 : Review of Recorded Assignments.
We will get off the phone, and review the recorded assignments you have sent me via WhatsAp.
- Both of us will listen to each assignment 3 times, and you will quickly note down an area of strength (or an improvement), and then one area that needs to be worked on.
- You will call me on Skype/WhatsApp when you are done.
Guidelines for submission of Recorded Assignments before class time
- You (the student) will WhatsApp the following :
- Audio or video recordings of all or some homework, with at least one video recording.
- For young children : An image of your practise schedule for the past week, duly signed by both student and parent.
- Recording Tips :
- Take one or two recordings each day at the end of practise, rather than all together on one day.
- The first recording or the best of two recordings per piece.
- Aim for improvement rather than perfection. Recording can be quite challenging at first, as it’s a practise in performing. It gets better with time.
- Name your piece or assignment before you start playing.
- Check your recording to be sure that the sound is good, and it is right side up, and not upside down.
- All Recorded Assignments should be submitted before your class time.
- The review usually takes :
- Beginners : 5 to 10 minutes depending on how many pieces are submitted.
- For older students and students with longer pieces : The review will not be done all at once. Instead we will stop to review each assignment, when the lesson covers that section.
Part 3 : The Online Lessons
You will call me on Skype/WhatsApp as soon as you are done with your assignment review.
An important notice to help me teach with less eye-strain :
- Please place your device and camera in a fixed place before you call me.
- To adjust the view or position of the camera during a call : Please switch off your camera using the video setting in the call before you do this. I will still be able to hear you, and you can switch on the video setting as soon as your device/camera is placed.
Please remember that I am teaching one student after the other, and that my eyes get tired with a moving camera.
Part 4 : Optional Recorded Lessons
Students who wish for a recording on any topic, will need to end their online lesson early, so I get time to do a recording.
A Checklist To Organise Before Class :
- Is your phone/device charged, connected to wifi/data, and checked into WhatsApp/Skype so you hear when it rings?
- Have set up and gone through the Set-Up Checklist below?
- Have you switched on the lights and fans that you need during class?
- Is your piano/digital/keyboard, book stand and bench ready?
- Are your piano, theory and homework books within reach.
- Do you have stationery – a pen, couple of sharpened pencils, sharpener & eraser?
- Do you have a glass or bottle of water nearby?
- Is your room quiet and free of distractions?
Front View with your cellphone/tablet placed on the piano book stand for a close up of your head & shoulders/face while we talk, and a partial view of you when you stand away from the piano for exercises to help with posture.
Side View with a Makeshift Stand or a Tripod so I can see your hands and posture while you play. I need to see you from the same angle I sit at during your regular piano lessons.
Set-Up Checklist :
- Check the placement of your device for the front, as well as side view.
- Adjust your set-up and check it using your device camera to be sure it gets a clear view and angle.
- Switch off any lights that flash directly into the camera lens. Lighting behind the camera will help me see you clearly.
This combination of Recorded and Online Lessons complements In-Studio teaching very well. Recorded assignments serve as performance practise and online lessons have surprising benefits. I’ve writing about that in a post on Teaching My First Skype Piano Class
Things lying around that can make these unplanned online lessons easier
- A little JBL GO portable wireless bluetooth speaker with a built in mic. Some students are using this and they’re able to hear me much louder, plus it picks up their voice and playing pretty well. The sound quality isn’t great but it works well enough.
- A wired cellphone earpiece with a mic. I’m using the Senheiser set that I usually use with my cellphone. With it, I can speak at normal volume and still be heard very clearly on a video call. Am careful to disconnect it before I get up. A bluetooth set would be better, will have to get one when shops open.
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