Exploring Online Lessons

Oh, the weather outside is frightful –
But the fire is so delightful –
And since we’ve no place to go –
Let’s do an online voice lesson! (With apologies to Sammy Cahn)


Yesterday, the college where I teach opened two hours late. And then 4 hours late. At which point I said, “I’ll bet you they’re going to close early. And no one is going to come in during the time they are open…. do I really want to drive in for maybe one student?” The answer was no. So I elected to cancel people; and within minutes, people who hadn’t read my email — what is with kids and not reading emails? — were cancelling. And mid-afternoon, I received the text message I expected to get: The school was closing at 5, which would’ve sent me back home in a driving sleet at rush hour. This would’ve made me cranky.

So today, I elected not to go in either. It was icy in the morning, and projected to rain all day with temperatures just hovering above freezing. And I had students to teach at home. One of whom asked for a Skype lesson.

And I gave her a Skype lesson, and it wasn’t perfect – I still have some technical challenges ahead of me, and I’m going to explore Zoom as a platform – but man, was it valuable.

I couldn’t play for her while she was singing. There’s a delay. Not a big deal for vocalises, but more of a snafu for repertoire. And the sound is still a work in progress. But because I wasn’t playing, I was watching. And I was seeing things that I can’t see while I’m playing because, well, I’m busy playing. I can’t see that your mouth position isn’t the same on your /oʊ/ vowel as it is on /aʊ/.* It was invaluable.

Until I get a handle on the platform, I’m not going to start making online lessons a regular part of my services. BUT – if you can’t make your lesson one week because your ride has fallen through, we can do a lesson online. And who knows what we’ll see. Hopefully it will be something we can address when you are standing in front of me. And maybe we need to bring in a pianist from time to time to play while I watch. Or maybe I need to do more with Appcompanist (once you know your pieces cold) so that I can just sit back and really look at you.

We need not cancel – we have so many options available to us now!

*International Phonetic Alphabet – coming to a studio page Facebook Live near you this summer.

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