When it comes to teaching a musical instrument, a six-foot distance between instructor and student might not prove to be productive. This – along with the burden of making sure every instrument, cable and surface is properly sanitized – has forced many music instructors to move online amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Using online software and applications such as Skype, Zoom and FaceTime, local music instructors have continued lessons remotely.
Elizabethtown music instructor Josh Brown said he has taught in-person lessons for close to 25 years but recently decided to switch exclusively to online lessons amid COVID-19 concerns.
“Teaching online can seem slightly awkward at first, but I encourage my students to pretend we are in-person and try to flow with it,” he said. “Today’s tech makes it really easy to have productive and quality lessons. Also, teaching online definitely increases the opportunity to teach people all over the state, U.S. and beyond.”
Offering lessons in everything from guitar to drums to accordion, Brown said his client base has shrunk because of the outbreak. However, he said many students and their families have maintained a commitment to lessons despite the pandemic.
“I think people are looking to make productive use of their increased time at home,” Brown said. “I currently have students from several counties and out of state.”
Elizabethtown music instructor Terry Strange has offered online lessons since last June, but said he has experienced an increase in online lesson enrollment because of the outbreak. Strange said he has been teaching in the Elizabethtown area since 1978 and offers lessons in guitar, banjo, violin and more.
Strange said some advantages to online lessons include the lack of travel time and expense, the lack of necessity to haul instruments and gear, ease of scheduling and rescheduling and the ability to take part in lessons while traveling.
However, Strange said the lack of personal contact can prove to be difficult when it comes to demonstrating notation and chord shapes on the fretboard. He said making sure each student has a functioning microphone and video setup for online lessons also has been a challenge.
“With each student, I have to bring myself to their level and teach only at their level,” Strange said. “This is more difficult with online lessons and not having that personal contact feeling, but I am getting better at it every day.”
Elizabethtown guitar teacher Devan Bishop said the COVID-19 outbreak not only has affected his in-person lessons, but also scheduled music rehearsals and performances. Teaching guitar for the past five years, Bishop said he teaches private lessons, online lessons, group-style lessons and a class for home-school children.
“Not only have lessons been devastated, but potential gigs and practice sessions with other musicians have been canceled,” he said. “This leaves me with pushing for online lessons and YouTube subscribers to try to make up for lost income.”
Bishop said with so many families now stuck at home because of the outbreak, now is a great time to consider music lessons, citing music’s role in developing time management, discipline, critical thinking and focused listening.
“With all the time people have on hand, why not use it to learn to play guitar?” Bishop said.
Brown echoed this sentiment.
“The time is now and it’s a great time to learn,” he said.