I have a kidney condition called Polycystic Kidney Disease. (It’s more of a condition than a disease. Unlike Covid-19, it is not contagious.) Currently, my kidneys are functioning at about 37%. The Coronavirus attacks kidneys. I cannot risk exposure.
But I don’t want to give up teaching. What to do?
I have joined the ranks of those who teach on-line. Is it ideal? No. Is it doable? Yes.
How does this work? Well, it starts with an email or a phone call. Let’s say that you are interested in voice or piano lessons. You find my website and send in the contact email. I respond. We chat a little, and then schedule that first meeting. In the past, this would be in my living room. We would have some tea, you would meet Xander, the out-going one of my two cats, and maybe the dogs, Rocky and Kaiser. We would talk about your goals, and you might sing something for me. Then we would talk about what kind of music you prefer, what you dislike, and start to map out a plan for your lessons. If you decided that this was what you wanted, then we would schedule your lessons. This first meeting is always free.
Nowadays, we still start out the same, with the emails and phone calls, but instead of you coming here, we meet on-line. I work primarily with Zoom and Skype. You would probably still meet Xander, he tends to insinuate himself into most of my on-line meetings. Whether we had tea would depend on if you made some for yourself. I will probably still have a cup. We would still talk about the same things, but there would be a couple of additions.
We would need to discuss accompaniments. You see, I usually accompany my students; I play the piano for them while they sing. This does not work for virtual lessons. There is always a slight lag between what you say and when I hear it. By the time I have played a note, and you hear it to sing, I have gone on to another note. Also, it is impossible for me to play and have you hear it while you sing. Only one person can be heard at a time.
There are a lot of options.
As a general rule, I dislike karaoke. I don’t want to sing It’s All Coming Back to Me Now just like Celine Dion. I want to sing it the way I sing it. However, it is a readily available option for a student, and there are a lot of free tracks out there on YouTube. I also have used a site that for a small monthly fee allows you to change the key and the tempo of a song, something that can come in handy for customizing to a student.
I have had a lot of success in recording accompaniments and then emailing that to students. Still not ideal, but I can put the song in a range that works for each student, and at a speed that they prefer.
When we work in person, there are certain things that I am used to listening and looking for. Many of those I can still see, tension in the voice or neck. And while I cannot see your whole body, I can still tell when you are standing properly, and am learning to listen for new things.
Distance is no longer an issue. Live in a different state? No problem, so long as we keep track of the time zones, we’ll be fine. I now have students in 3 different states!
As I said last week, we are artists. We are (hopefully) used to thinking outside of the box. We will get through these times, we just need to be creative.
Would you be willing to lake on-line lessons? What do you think the pros and cons would be? Let me know in the comments below. I’ll be playing some of the songs that my students are working on right now, on my Minnich Music Facebook page, so be sure to check them out.
Until next time!