I am really excited about today's announcement! I have tossed this idea around a few times and even have done it a time or two but just have never really come to a conclusion as to whether I wanted to pursue it. Finally, the other day I decided "Why not?!". So today I'll be going through with my decision! I am going to be offering skype or facetime lessons!
I have done some research on the topic and know people that have gone this route. It's not my first choice but I also think it's a wonderful feature. Some people are against it (I was hesitant myself) and many teachers have found that it works just as well as private lessons! I wanted to sort of lay out some pros and cons and my own set of guidelines in this blog post.
Pros: 1. Teaching from a remote location.
As some may know, I moved to Connecticut from Tennessee about 8 months ago and had to leave my students in TN. This was very hard! I really enjoyed my students there and felt terrible for "leaving them behind" so to speak. With this feature, I could have kept teaching those students. Now I know for the future it's possible to keep that history with those students and continue teaching them. Also, if a student needs to leave for any reason, for instance over the summer or an extended vacation, I can still continue lessons provided the right means of equipment are available.
Con: Personal one-on-one lesson time is lost.
The only bad thing about teaching via skype or facetime is that the personal touch is lost. It's just not the same as having a real life student/teacher relationship. However, I do believe that it is possible to maintain a great working relationship online. In fact, my college teacher teaches through skype to one of my friends and having not known my old professor personally, he still enjoys his lessons just as much.
Pro: Requires the teacher and students to be much more thorough and organized.
People don't realize it but a piano teacher does have to "practice" prior to teaching a student during a piano lesson. Especially with children, I almost always write out a lesson plan. I focus on a goal or concept I'll be going over that day. I integrate ear training or theory into the lesson and always try to have something creative and fun. It doesn't always go as planned of course. I improvise along the way but I try to be prepared for each student and cater to their specific needs. Without actually being physically with the student, knowing how to read them, listen and understand I believe as a teacher I will have to be even more organized with my lesson planning. It takes longer to explain things over video or audio therefore it will require more organization. This is not a downfall though as I think it is much more of a good thing!
Con: It will take a special kind of student.
I think it will take a special kind of student to take video lessons. It will require them to always always always be on top of their game. If the material has not been reviewed or practiced then it really will set the lesson time back whereas in real time, certain things can be taught or used to provide the student with a well-rounded lesson. Maybe the student would normally skip over pieces he has a question about and ask at his next lesson but I think this will be more of an hinderance with a skype or facetime lesson. No more of "Well, I had a question on it so I didn't practice it". No, the student will have to take initiative and try to figure it out on their own. Thorough practice and strong motivation will have to be qualities of a video lesson student versus a private lesson student. These should be the qualities of any student but even more so with online learning.
I am sure there are more pros and cons but those are some of the first ones I have mulled over myself! So here are some guidelines I am going to go by for my own studio.
- must be at least 60 miles away to begin taking video lessons
- must have a device to use during lessons and a strong connection to internet (phone, ipad, computer)
- must pay online through paypal (check or cash cannot be accepted)
My reasons for these three guidelines are A) I cannot accept students to do video lessons unless there is a legitimate reason why. It's not my first choice for means of teaching. B) Without a strong connection to internet, lessons will become really frustrating so I would like to avoid that if I can. And C) I normally accept cash or check but with a greater distance, Paypal will be so much easier. I have set up a secure account and can even send out email reminders. I may end up going with this with all my students.
I am so excited to be offering this feature in my studio. I hope I can help many people that live a little farther away! And from the research I have done, there seems to be a lot of success with video lessons. It's new but new isn't always bad. Please contact me if you are interested or have any other questions!