During the lockdown I was teaching exclusively online, using Skype. Whilst this is a poor substitute for face-to-face lessons, it is infinitely better than stopping lessons for such an extended period of time. My pupils were all fantastic at rising to the challenge. When the lockdown was at it’s most severe in March and April, the virtual interaction with someone outside their household was particularly welcome. My pupils seemed well focussed, and most were doing more practice than usual due to other activities and distractions all being cancelled.
Most of the drawbacks of online lessons can be mitigated. Camera angles can be adjusted to get a better view of the bow-hold, or the left hand fingers and I send practice notes by text after the lesson to make up for the lack of note book. A significant problem is not being able to play together as the technology only allows one voice to be heard at a time. This means I cannot count or beat time to help a student with rhythm difficulties. To overcome this, I have been recording practice-speed versions of pieces for pupils to play along with at home, and this seems to have helped a lot.
Returning to face-to-face lessons
At the time of writing this, the 13th July, I have started having some students return to lessons in my house. I have drawn up a list of arrangements to make this as safe as possible:
Arrangements for face-to-face violin lessons
Measures that I will take
- I will provide alcohol-based hand sanitiser (with a pump dispenser), for use on entering and leaving my house.
- Lessons will be scheduled with at least 15 minutes between the end of one and the start of the next to avoid contact with other students, and to give me time to wipe down door handles and other surfaces that may have been touched.
- I will do a thorough clean of all parts of the house used by students. (Hallway, music room and bathroom.)
- I can wear a mask if you’d like me to. Please don’t hesitate to ask!
- Weather permitting, I will have the French door(s) open for ventilation.
- I will social distance as much as is possible, though with the size of the music room, a full 2 metres may not be possible.
Measures to be taken by students
- Social distance where possible.
- Use hand sanitiser on entrance and exit.
- Cancel the lesson if you feel unwell.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, and put the tissue in the bin.
- Avoid coming to the lesson by public transport if possible.
- If possible, prepare your own violin, bow, shoulder rest and tune etc. After months of online lessons, I think most students have become pretty good at this!
- A parent may sit in on the lesson if they like, but please only one parent, and no siblings or other friends and relations.
I drew up these guidelines using information from the Musicians’ Union, the Incorporated Society of Musicians and the Department of Education. For more details, please visit the following sites.