Learning online in 2020 due to COVID-19 - how does online lessons hold up to face to face?

TL;DR Learning online is fun, convenient and easy once you get going. I'll bullet points of interest:


1. Convenience: Learning online is easier in this regard - it allows for no travelling, sitting in traffic and no packing instruments away before a lesson. You can warm up 10 minutes before your scheduled lesson and kick things off with your flute or saxophone in your hand.


2. More learning time: As you do not need to unpack or pack away your music or instrument and come into my home studio - you can get more time. Some instruments like saxophones take a good 5 minutes out of a lessons doing all of this when you combine the setting up and putting away. For clarinets and saxophones the reeds are already ready to go and you aren't trying to rush popping together your instrument. For things like drums, you have your kit already setup for your own personal taste and do not need to switch on the snare, move a drum or cymbal height. No moving and adjusting the piano stool. All of this leads to just more teaching time. I've found, since I have been fully teaching online that students have been able to progress more due to this.


3. Quality: the sound and video quality depends upon my setup mores than yours. Currently I am running a HD 1080p Logitech Webcam with X2 integrated microphones within this camera for surround vocal pickup of my voice. For instrument demos I play online for students I have a Shure 58 professional dynamic microphone (for pianos, drums and guitars), and also an AKG C519M CLIP ON SAX MIC, which I use for all flute, clarinet and saxophone playing. The sound quality coming through to you is the best online that it can be.


4. Internet speeds: I initiate the call and host all online lessons and with my Virgin Media M500 (average of 500 mbps download and 34 mbps upload), the connection is secure and lightning fast.


5. Ease of use: The hardest thing with online lessons is picking the platform you wish to use and getting connected. After that, all you need is to be ready on your relevant device at the time of lesson and await my call. I offer lessons on either FaceTime, Zoom, WhatsApp video, Skype or Facebook Messenger. Many different ways for you to connect, so you needn't learn a new platform for our lessons - choose one you already know.


6. Duets: This is the only area that initially was harder to teach online. As there is (even at best internet speeds) a slight milli-second latency in online lessons, it makes playing duets live hard. How I rose to this challenge this was to record my part of the duet live here in my studio and email to the student. At their end, they can play my duet, and play along to it at the same time. In my opinion, this has made duets better - as I can fully listen to how you are playing, rather than focussing (even if only slightly), on my own part.


Summary: In short, I know many folk were apprehensive, and may still be for online learning. The world has changed, and acceptance of technology has pushed us all to get used to this way of life. It certainly doesn't mean that this is better than face to face lessons and being here in my home music studio, no.

However, the above equally means that online learning is no longer the underdog. It is not worse to learn online - my teaching quality is as high and the learning outcome is as good, if not better; many of my students are learning even quicker and at far more convenience. I have a few students currently itching to get back to face to face lessons, but for the most part, everyone is very happy and many are wanting to stay with online learning even when we can meet in face to face again due to the reasons above.


From my stance: if you are wanting to learn saxophone, clarinet, flute, piano, drums or guitar: now is the time. Life goes on, music is medicine for the soul and can help give you drive and have something new to look forward to right now in a world that is uncertain. And that, is why the art of music is beauty. If you want to learn that instrument - don't wait. Get in contact. Everyone is welcome to a free taster first session anyhow. What have you to lose?


Ric




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