Saturday morning, March 15, 2020. My students came to lessons as normally scheduled but with one change…we washed our hands before each lesson and in-between, I wiped down the piano keys, doorknobs, anything the students could touch. We assumed that lessons would continue this way for a little while. Then, that evening, schools were cancelled for the foreseeable future. I knew we had to keep lessons going. I’ve taught piano lessons online before…. the occasional snow day or when a parent couldn’t drive a student to lessons. But never very consistently or back to back. My husband Josh and I spent all day Sunday testing various arrangements of my laptop, my iPad, my iPhone, video camcorder, extra brick speakers, portable tables, music stand and my white board to come up with a new teaching arrangement around the piano. We compared Skype, Facetime and Zoom online platforms. I searched my piano music for the books my students were using and set up a new shelving system by student and day of the week so that I could have their music ready on my piano in order to guide their piano lessons virtually. Monday afternoon I was ready to try taking our entire studio online…all 45 students in one week. It was a nerve-wracking week…no doubt about it. But every student and family responded. They downloaded Skype or chose Facetime. They texted me their platform information. I expected that this first week of teaching online would be mostly used for setup on the student’s end, adjusting our connection and just getting used to talking to each other this way. I thought we would just review their memory lists…an easy, familiar thing to start, when every other part of these lessons was so new to all of us. All I can say, is my students and families are real troupers. They are continuing their practice fundraising…as we had just started this 7-week project when the order to shelter in place came from the governor. Every student was extra prepared to perform their memory list pieces and they astounded me with how musically they played. So, we all jumped right in. Even this first week, we had real lessons. I had to think on my feet, when I couldn’t just point to the music and physically demonstrate how to play a phrase. But guess what? Everyone started learning new skills of communication and I saw this was a golden opportunity for my students to practice a bit more independence. For many students this was the first time they learned about counting measure numbers! They wrote down their own notes for next weeks practice in their notebooks themselves. We played scales…not at the same time because unless one has a very sophisticated set up using duo electric smart pianos, there is a delay in hearing each other play. But we found that we could play our scales in rounds! The students start the octaves and I jump in when they get to the top. It was a cool, invigorating sound and warmup. We now play alternating measures of a piece…I take the first measure, the student the second measure, I then take my turn, etc. What fun and what a great reading tool. We still use tactile teaching tools but used in a slightly different way; I roll a dice in my hand while my student tries to guess what number we will get. Whatever It is…that is the measure they start to play or exercise they turn to next. We can still give each other high fives! And when the lesson is over, we give each other virtual hugs. I begin the day by texting my afternoon students to let them know I will be ready for them at their lesson time. Within minutes, all smiley faces and hearts flow from each family back to me indicating they are waiting and ready for their afternoon lessons. Virtual hug everyone!