When one least expects it, the tables get turned and one finds oneself completely reeling with the revelation.
We love nothing more than having our pupils come to our studios to make music. Much is accomplished in the time we spend together. We learn new music from all genres, we study the styles of composers, we examine the fine nuances of text manipulation and we delight in the beauty of melody. We examine in minute detail, the technique of singing or playing the piano, and we encourage good posture and relaxed, controlled movement of the muscles. Together we work to produce the best vocal tones in singing and beauty of melodic lines on the piano. Together we set goals, aim high and realise dreams. And, as teachers, we set out to inspire!
Now that we are teaching online, we have had to find ways to make the learning experience for our pupils, no less personal, joyful and stimulating. Music is meant to make us feel good, so we aim to make online lessons as comfortable as possible for all our pupils.
We are extremely fortunate to have a computer technician who has been working closely with us, albeit virtually, right through lockdown! He has proved to be utterly invaluable when it came to providing advice on how to produce the best experience for our online pupils.
We have therefore been able to advise pupils on how best to set up equipment so that the pupil can get the most out of the lesson. We have provided vocal warm-up exercises on Derby Music Academy Youtube channel to ensure all singing pupils have access to vocal warm-up sessions before singing lessons. (Do feel free to use them and share them. They are there for everyone.)
Our expert pianist has made recordings of all accompaniments required for our music lessons. These are recorded in advance and sent to the pupils to use in singing lessons. We produce theory worksheets for younger pupils to link the pieces they are learning to theoretical knowledge or musical concepts in a more concrete way. In addition, we have provided accessible Youtube videos for anyone wishing to learn to read music. (Please share these as well.)
But, despite everything we have been doing, we found ourselves concerned about the musical wellbeing of our pupils. Were we doing enough to make sure that each pupil in our studio was not only getting value for money, but also enjoying interesting and thought-provoking lessons? Could we honestly say that our online lessons are easily the same standard that we offer in face to face lessons in our music studio?
We decided that there were a few ways to measure this.
The first way was to look at our bookings. Did they diminish? Absolutely not! In fact, quite the opposite occurred and we find we are as busy as ever. We are delighted to be teaching pupils as far afield as Wales and even South Africa.
The second way to asses online learning, was to look at our reviews! We are so pleased to have received heartening appraisals over the last few weeks. Words such as ‘professional’, ‘supportive’ and ‘improving confidence,’ echo in our hearts. It makes all the hard work so worthwhile.
Derby Music Academy has provided me with an excellent opportunity to enjoy and improve my singing. The teaching is very professional whilst at the same time done in a comfortable and friendly manner. I have been encouraged to take some exams which has given me the chance to start learning how to sight read for which my teacher has provided many resources to use at home. I always look forward to my lessons which are improving my confidence as well as being great fun!
The third way to measure the musical wellbeing of our pupils was to look at the progress they are making. For us, this has been completely thrilling. Across the board, every single pupil has become more accomplished. New pieces and songs have been studied, learnt and assimilated.
But perhaps the most satisfying justification of our work came to me this week as I listened, online, to one of our young pianists. As he played, he completely took my breath away and I caught sight of myself on camera as he performed. I was smiling with a smile that filled my whole face! What a joy! What a thrill to see his development. What a validation of our determination to see online lessons through. In that moment, I relaxed! Here I was, looking at evidence of progress. I was looking at the joy of making music with abandon and passion. And, to my delight, I found that in my quest to inspire a young musician online, he had, in turn, inspired me!