Piano Lessons In The Time Of Pandemic

Hello Lovely Parents and Students,
I have been thinking for days of what to write to you. Never in my wildest imaginings did I expect to lose my job and not return to work after Spring Break. But that is the situation in which millions of Canadians now find ourselves.

During the first week of Spring Break, I clung to the hope that private in-home services such as tutoring and various therapies would continue. But it’s clear now, with the recent directive to ‘go home and stay home’ that I won’t be out and about doing lessons.

So, what to do going forward? Kids thrive on structure and routine, and it’s a good idea to keep their brains occupied and stimulated. Piano lessons are great for all those things. Some of you have already asked about online lessons.

Piano lessons in particular are difficult to manage over the internet. Because of lag time between devices, teacher and student cannot play together. That means no duets but it also means I can’t count out loud for students or tap a beat for them to follow, or stop them quickly at a particular passage to re-try. Every exchange between teacher and student will have a slight delay. This is the best case scenario. Usually there are technical difficulties to deal with as well. There is just no way that an in-the-moment flow between student and teacher can happen over the internet…and that is pretty much the sum and total of my teaching approach and lesson plans.

However! Just because my present way of doing things does not translate to online delivery doesn’t mean I won’t be teaching anymore. It just means that I will redesign my lesson plans and create new ways to teach and connect with students. Here are some ideas and plans I’m putting together:

– 30 minute Check In Lessons with current students for the material they’re presently working on. No theory or duets. I won’t be able to leave written practice assignments for the students to follow so part of the lesson will be directions on what and how to practice that week.

– 30 minute Song Project Lessons. This would be something for more intermediate or advanced students. Students choose one song they want to learn, and we spend 30 minutes learning it in small sections. This could last for weeks or months depending on the complexity of the material.

– 30 minute Make A Song Lessons. This could be a fun activity for beginners and intermediate students. Student creates lyrics, I show them how to put their words to a melody and chords, and 30 minutes later we have a completed original song. Extra points for silliness. I could send along a worksheet of the chords and melody we come up with so students could practice their piano parts if they want.

I will drop my rate to $25.00 per 30 minute lesson for online sessions. For booking, I will leave it up to parents to decide how often they would like to have lessons, and what kind of lessons they would like to purchase. These are kind of mix-and-match options. Students could try all three kinds of online sessions, or just stick to one. Lessons would be pre-paid by e-transfer and I can email a receipt afterwards.

My new teaching hours will be 3:00-5:30pm Monday-Friday, and 12:00-3:00pm Saturday. I’m open to booking additional sessions on Saturdays and Sundays too, with sufficient notice to make arrangements to kick my family outside for their daily fresh air so I can hear myself think. This week I am researching delivery platforms, camera angles, and computer setups. I want to get it right and get comfortable with teaching this way before I unleash myself on the unsuspecting public. My plan is to launch online lessons for April 1 Wednesday.

In the meantime, take good care of yourselves and your kids. It’s a huge loss to me as a teacher and as a human to not see your children every week. All those precious relationships of learning, encouragement, warmth, all the giggling and inside jokes, all the little details about their lives they share with me each week, the good-natured co-operation and shared camaraderie, and most of all, watching them grow and progress. Losing my front row seat of seeing the everyday miracle of learning and development unfold in your children is very painful. I miss them. I’m looking forward to sitting beside everyone again soon.

Thank you for reading. Hopefully we will reconvene in a virtual way in April:)

Alison Maira
PBD Counselling & Human Development
BCRMTA – BC Registered Music Teachers Assn.
The Mobile Piano Geek: http://www.alisonmaira.com

I acknowledge that I live, work, and play on the unceded, occupied territories of the (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.