teaching piano

Teaching during the pandemic

So we’ve been in lockdown for a few weeks now, since mid-March, and we went from being allowed gatherings of 50 to 5, then none, unless you’re housemates, and businesses were told to shut and we were instructed to stay home.

For us music teachers, we were changing how we taught overnight. I was emailing my students daily, from saying I’d wipe down my piano keys in between each student, to offering online lessons if preferred, to saying it’ll be online lessons only for the foreseeable future.

It’s been a challenge initially. For starters, I had trouble placing my phone in such a way it could hover over the keys. For any other music teacher, like a violinist, you can just hold your instrument up and demonstrate into the camera. For pianists, it’s a whole other matter because the camera needs to show your hand position, and your face, too, especially for young children. I had a music stand, and had to do quite the balancing act as you can see here:

It looks like a giant screen was on a credenza – or furniture made for cats, but I actually balanced two wooden tissue boxes onto a music stand and tilted the stand towards the piano, with tape dispensers to prevent my iPaid from tipping forward. A week after using my iPad, it stopped accepting FaceTime and only my iPhone did, and that turned out well, but I still had the issue of balancing the phone the way I needed to.

Now, I know people have a lot of anti-Amazon sentiments and I get it, but my need to provide quality online instruction took precedence, so I looked and found this fantastic selfie stick/tripod:

This was just what I needed. I was now able to easily adjust the phone up or down, and best of all, when the phone is vertical, I could easily tilt it towards the keyboard to demonstrate things.

If I need to film my hand doing something on the keys, I take it off the stand, and flip the camera view to film what I’m doing. The only challenge here is I have to hold the phone with one hand while demonstrating with the other. I can’t demonstrate 2-hand things – yet. I also ordered a contraption that you can wear around your neck, and when that arrives, I’ll update this post.

We are all adjusting to a new way of life while social distancing is in place, and so far, it’s going quite well. The kids are adjusting, and I’ve backed off the friendly-strict disciplinarian thing, and focussed more on the friendly-encouraging thing. Lots of smiles and saying thank you to my students and parents for bearing with me. Teaching during the pandemic has forced me to pull myself together, and think about others instead of wallow in my own fears. I am very grateful for that.

Liz Parker