Teaching Piano Online Week #4 (COVID-19).
Friday, 10 April 2020 00:33
Crashing Down: Teaching’s been good. But after the exhilaration of getting everything set up in the studio; everyone setup online; platform names logged in; music organized by day of the week and student by student, there are THOSE days. The internet is so clogged from usage that connect-ability is interrupted. Looking at pixelated faces for even 5 minutes is dizzying enough but sounds get warbled too. Often pianos sound tinny or electrified even when the student is playing on an acoustic piano. One discovery: if a student is using their cell phone to skype or Facetime with you and it is sitting on their piano…ask them to wrap a hand towel around the phone. It makes all the difference in the world.
Students are starting to appear weepy and tired. This is the week that all school districts handed out homework over the internet and started on-line classes. For many young ones, Seeing all of their work at once was overwhelming, while parents are already stressed from trying to keep up with their jobs online. Kaylee’s eyes were red when she sat down at her keyboard at 6:00 pm in the evening. The crabby hour for many of us. Kaylee had been chipping away at 4th-grade homework most of the day. Fortunately, Kaylee was only three pieces away from earning her next 30 list prize. We went into her Disney pre-time book. First up, The Siamese Cat song from the movie “The Lady and the Tramp.” I have much respect for Peggy Lee, one of the first women composers to break the gender gap composing for Walt Disney Pictures. Students often chose this simple piece of harmonic thirds as their first piece to start in the book. No sweat for Kaylee. Sight-read right through it. I used my newly found screen sharing abilities so that we watched the original scene of the song with the devilish Siamese Twin cats together, virtually! That made it possible for Kaylee to get a renewed sense of joy. She quickly and accurately added two more pieces to her 30-list and selected a turquoise ring from my prize box. I will put It into my Little Free Library house that stands in front of my house, next to the sidewalk. Normally filled with extra music for the community, this stand now services the ability for me to pass out new piano practice notebooks, incentive prizes and special music to my own students. And they sometimes leave me special bags on occasion…pumpkin muffins or chocolate chip cookies!
Students are learning not only how to read and mark measure numbers but also to count octaves so that we can each agree that the G above high C is assuredly G 5. We’ve never quite had to number the octaves when working together in the same room. Progress is good…but I need to remind myself of that daily. I have set up a private YouTube station for my students’ videos, and they are sending in polished recorded pieces all the time now. But I know exactly what my students and parents are feeling. After breakfast this morning, I ended up back in bed, just to read for a little bit. I woke up 3 hours later…at 12:30 pm …just in time for lunch and a full afternoon of teaching. Josh was afraid I must be getting sick. But apparently, I just needed some away time from all the screens and the insidious worry that nags at us much of the time. Yesterday, I had my iPad leaning against my laptop for a Facetime lesson with a student. For some reason, I cannot Facetime from my computer. Only my phone or iPad. I wanted to type out a text to a student on the iPad, but inadvertently was typing from my laptop. Took me several minutes to figure out why my typing wasn’t appearing in the text! I definitely needed that long morning nap. And this experience has helped me to be extra understanding when working with students and families online. One huge plus: I get to meet all of my student’s pets! Meet Sadie the Cat! Hugs to all this Easter and Passover week.
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