V.com weekend vote: When do you envision a return to in-person private music lessons?

May 8, 2020, 10:46 PM · Like a number of Violinist.com readers, I’m a violin teacher, and in "normal times" I teach about a dozen young students in my home. Since the quarantine began, I’ve figured out how to use Zoom and other technologies that have enabled me to teach online. I’m happy to say, the results have been fairly positive.

But when can we all go back to teaching in person?

Laurie with Chloe
Here I am with my student Chloe, last year. I miss seeing my students in person!

As states begin to reopen, teachers are telling me they are beginning to plan to reopen their studios. In fact, some have shared that they anticipate teaching "in person" as early as next week. Others are looking at state-by-state guidelines and opening up in accordance with other "business opening" guidelines. And yet other teachers wonder if it will be possible to teach in person, even in the fall.

With a lack of clear direction as to when private studios are technically allowed to reopen, what are your thoughts? Whether you’re a teacher, student, or simply someone who is close to a teacher or student, when do you think it’s appropriate for in-person lessons to begin again?

Please pick the answer below that most closely corresponds to your choice, then provide specifics in the comments section. While these answers are based on a time-line, what other conditions do you feel are necessary for "in person" private lessons? For example, do you anticipate social distancing, wearing masks, sanitizing the studio in between students? Should students be spaced apart so there is 10 minutes in between lessons so students will not be in contact with each other "in passing"? How can teachers and students make it work, when the time comes?

If you have other ideas for reopening private studios, please share in the comments as well.

When do you envision a return to in-person private music lessons?

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May 9, 2020 at 04:01 AM · As an older student, I’m waiting for a vaccine for non essential face to face time with other people. Mendy

May 9, 2020 at 04:08 AM · I think teaching lessons online when I or a student am not well enough to come to the studio will be a thing for always.

Until an effective treatment for Coronavirus has been found, and/or a vaccine, I don't envision a return to in-person teaching. In a typical cold/flu season, I end up sick a couple times a year because of germs that my students pass to me.

When we return, I anticipate having to physically mark 6 feet away from me on the floor and that my students and parents will need to wear masks, and that we will avoid touching. The studio will need to be thoroughly disinfected between students, and I imagine students will need to wait in the cars before lessons to avoid waiting in the crowded waiting areas at our Academy.

May 9, 2020 at 07:15 AM · If the (regular) schools are going to open, then they will face similar problems as a music studio. One can see what they run into and how they handle it. In Asia, a lot of the schools are going to open soon. They may have a better testing/tracking and awareness to allow this. However, I think by fall, either we have another lockdown/school-shut situation, or we will find compromise to re-open.

May 9, 2020 at 11:38 AM · I haven’t voted, because I’m simply not sure. I will take it week by week, as the government says and does the guidelines etc. What’s more, Wales is acting fairly independent of England, so what might work for one country, isn’t working for another. Strange times to be in.

When I do go back to face to face lessons, I will have a new health and safety policy in place, to the tune of, if you have a cold, please do not come for a lesson, rescheduling will be offered instead. I don’t know if that is over thinking, but I need to protect my self and my family.

Students will have to wait in cars before lessons, parents won’t be able to come in to wait, and the studio will be cleaned between students. A lot to think about and develop over the next few months.

May 9, 2020 at 12:03 PM · Like Mendy, I am an older student. I can't imagine being willing to go back to face-to-face lessons until a vaccine is available. I am very fortunate to have a teacher who is still very effective over Skype.

May 9, 2020 at 02:18 PM · My region will start easing restrictions in mid May. This will include the resumption of personal care services like massage therapy, hair salons, and healthcare services like occupational and physical therapy. One of my teachers thinks this could mean in-person lessons can start in about a month if all goes well.

May 9, 2020 at 02:57 PM · We can already do this, however, many teachers and students are choosing not to. I work for a studio that was full with 25 teachers and several hundred students. Before the pandemic, I taught 25 students. Once our lock down was put in effect, 14 of my students stayed. Now that our lock down is lifted, 10 of my students are still choosing Skype, and 4 want face to face. The studio, myself, parents and students have all kinds of guidelines put in place that I'm comfortable with so I leave it up to the parents or students to decide what they want.

I would think it's not as risky as going to school, because private teaching you're dealing with a smaller amount of people and it's easier to disinfect, cover your face, etc. That's just a personal opinion though.

May 9, 2020 at 04:31 PM · I said "by fall" but I don't know how that's going to be possible. I really don't. One cool think about Zoom is that my teacher's regular studio is very small but I can Zoom in from my living room and get coaching for the trio I have formed with my two daughters (violin and cello -- I play piano in our trios).

May 9, 2020 at 04:49 PM · In my area, I've heard that some teachers have just begun to reopen their studios. I believe students are being given the option to continue on Zoom, or attend in-person. The restrictions I've seen listed in the comments, such as parents/kids waiting in their cars and time between lessons to resanitize, are being utilized.

May 9, 2020 at 05:12 PM · I am a sixty-four year old student and my teacher is older than I am. As has been the case for more than the last couple of months now, I wouldn't consider in person lessons until a vaccine is developed. Unfortunately, we're not doing any work together online either. Still, I wouldn't think of exposing her to the virus.

May 9, 2020 at 06:04 PM · I think it is dangerous to conflate the easing of restrictions, often being done for political reasons, with the safety of in-person lessons. Just because it is now both possible and legal to get my hair cut doesn’t mean I’m going to do so. I don’t think it’s safe.

I will follow the scientists and doctors in making decisions that could affect the health of my students, their families, my family, and myself.

May 9, 2020 at 07:38 PM · Each person must do what he or she feels comfortable. Teacher must not force a student and a student must not force a teacher to do what they don’t feel comfortable doing. One must not force their politics or approach to life on others, but respect each other’s liberties.

May 9, 2020 at 08:22 PM · I am an older student and a high school teacher. Given the fact that I take lessons in a very small home studio where there isn't space for 6' between everyone there, I'm not sure when to return. I am trying to keep up a practice schedule but online teaching takes an enormous amount of time. I'm hoping to return in the fall, but I am very hesitant. I'm interested in seeing what my teacher comes up with. She doesn't like Zoom teaching so I don't know if any of her students have had lessons.

May 9, 2020 at 08:38 PM · Due to personal restrictions, my teacher doesn't expect to be able to hold in-person lessons until there's a vaccine. But Zoom lessons are working out well so far.

May 9, 2020 at 09:00 PM · As I'm over 70, both my wife and I are in the high-risk population although we are generally more healthy than most of our age peers. To me the issue is the use of enclosed space.

I'm thinking of moving in-person lessons to an outdoor venue and that makes lessons weather dependent but online provides a working alternative. My difference is that I use Doflein which uses a lot of student-teacher duets and that is the thing that both I and my student like. Those duets are difficult to accomplish over the internet although I'm working on recording the teacher line and sending the recording for the student to play along with. Not as much fun for me though.

I am more concerned with those programs that bring large numbers of young musicians together on a regular basis. The Youth Orchestra program where we volunteer as Music Librarians has been operating continuously since 1957 and I fear that this pandemic may shut that down and that makes me sad.

At this point in my life I may well complete teaching my students, move them on to other teachers and just play my violin for my wife, the cats and myself. I would miss teaching but,... there aren't many good options right now.

May 9, 2020 at 09:11 PM · I will chime in: the virus is as contagious as it has ever been; nothing has changed in that regard. I will continue to teach online as long as it is necessary for every one of my students, their families and my family to be safe. I have a feeling it is going to be a long time; it may well stretch into the next academic year.

An interesting fact: The fastest that a vaccine was ever developed was four years, for mumps. There has never been a vaccine for a coronavirus.

It important that we get the economy going, but I think we have to be extremely inventive, open-minded and creative about how we do it while keeping our fellow humans safe. Unlike during the pandemic of 1918; we have the Internet. This can help us greatly, especially if we can share best practices and find ways to make it work for all of us. We can change the way we do commerce, the way we work and communicate, the way we teach. We have to find ways to make it less exhausting, etc. but this is better than endangering people. We are in it together!

May 9, 2020 at 09:37 PM · It might be better not to follow "the herd" in this. I'm with Governor Cuomo: know the science; study the data. The science will tell you if it's safe to re-open or if you'll be contributing to a resurgence. Personally, I'm waiting for a vaccine.

May 9, 2020 at 09:40 PM · I, too, am waiting for a vaccine.

May 9, 2020 at 09:41 PM · "Each person must do what he or she feels comfortable. Teacher must not force a student and a student must not force a teacher to do what they don’t feel comfortable doing. One must not force their politics or approach to life on others, but respect each other’s liberties."

I'm sorry, what? We are in the midst of a pandemic. How nations respond to that pandemic is political but whether in-person violin lessons are safe is a matter of science (virology, public health, medicine, etc.), not politics. Teachers and students need to use the best information available in order to make good judgments in determining how to move forward. It has nothing to do with liberty or politics.

The teacher is the one who determines, first of all, when to offer in-person lessons again, and the students are then free to determine whether or not they feel safe in that situation. I will not be offering in-person lessons until we have a lot more information that supports such lessons as being low-risk.

Apologies if I misunderstood what intended to say.

May 10, 2020 at 12:19 AM · I had to stop taking lessons when I started working full-time last year, and online teaching brought me back to having more regular lessons because I don't have to drive a half hour or longer each way in the afternoon during rush hour. I think it helps that my teacher and I had a few years of in-person lessons to get to know each other first. That made the transition easier.

I plan on continuing lessons over skype for as long as my teacher is willing, even if she opens up her studio for other people. She's an active and healthy senior, so I think she will stay with distance learning at least until there is a vaccine.

May 10, 2020 at 01:36 AM · Here in Australia I taught solely online for about a month. We now have just one active case in my state, and restrictions are starting to be very gradually phased out. Last week I taught all but a couple of my students face-to-face, which was an enormous relief. Even one student in her 70s is back, though another is not. I have a barrier across the teaching room floor and the student must not cross it. All students are separated in time by at least 10mins so no-one passes in the doorway. They mark their own music, and I sit back further than I used to. This has benefits as I notice more about their posture and bowing than I did when I stood closer.

May 10, 2020 at 02:53 AM · Starting back with in- person lessons on 11 May with a new teacher at her house.

The previous teacher was not available for at least a further three months in person because of the Conservatorium policy.

It’s a free market economy at work.

May 10, 2020 at 03:56 AM · I am also a senior student with a teacher who is several years older than I am. I feel like after two months of isolation, somebody somewhere flipped a switch, and now we are told that we should consider venturing out. The studio rooms where I take my lessons are very small, and I don’t think it is possible to effectively social distance from my teacher. I would feel terrible if I were to pass on the virus, just for the sake of hurrying back to lessons. I will wait until I have a clearer idea of what the progress of the pandemic is, and how close we are to a vaccine.

May 10, 2020 at 05:20 AM · I'd consider taking in-person lessons when widespread testing and contact tracing are implemented, at least throughout California, and with proper precautions.

That said, I've only ever had three in-person lessons. Before injuring my shoulder and dropping the search for a teacher, I was starting to come to the realization that I'd have to go online because I spent years unsuccessfully trying to find anyone local who accepts adult students, can teach the major viola concerto repertoire, and has evening or weekend openings. (Plenty of local teachers satisfy two of the three criteria, but none seemed to satisfy all three.) So it might be years before I take another in-person lesson, for reasons unrelated to COVID-19.

May 10, 2020 at 12:32 PM · I voted for the fall, more from the wishful thinking of a student. Realistically I don't know when my teacher will choose to do so. He is in the vulnerable group (age), and for now Zoom is just safer. I am in the group as well...It's been a challenging transition, but it is better than no lessons. Safety must come first.

May 10, 2020 at 03:30 PM · I think a line has to be drawn with each family. I have one family where both parents are EMT's, so being exposed continuously. I would not teach them in person for a very long time. If a family is still keeping mostly to themselves and with distancing, disinfecting etc., I would consider doing their lessons in person. Our area has a lot of cases and deaths, but 75% of them are in nursing homes, so the risk to the general public is lessening. I think fall will be worse if schools reopen, because then there are more opportunities for children to be exposed and pass it on. I can envision doing some in-person lessons during the summer and then returning to Zoom in the fall.

May 11, 2020 at 01:38 AM · I have no idea when to resume face-to-face lessons. With the disorganized and indifferent response from our federal government, I'd say it's going to be a long time until people feel safe and ready for such a move. Yes, some states are opening things up, but that seems more political than practical. Indeed, for the past few weeks, people in the United States have been dying at an average rate of 2,000 a day, with no end in sight. Why on earth anyone feels safe enough to resume "normal" activities, is absurd. This virus is just as lethal now, in mid-May, as it was two months ago. You're tired of this? Well, we all are, but the virus doesn't care. Boredom is not a vaccine. My advice? Hang in there, and don't pretend things are better. They should be better but they aren't. Until there is effective testing so we know what we are dealing with, until we know who is genuinely more likely to die from this virus, and where they are so we can keep them safe and - perhaps - let others resume contact with other people, and until we have a vaccine enough of the vaccine, and adequate distribution to the public, it's a toss of the dice.

May 11, 2020 at 02:44 AM · I am living in South Korea, we did not had such a strong lockdown as other countries. Schools are still closed, but Music schools and academies were only closed for 4 Weeks. So we have face to face violin lessons since about 6 weeks. With some special precautions, around 2m distance during the lesson. Regular desinfection of surfaces that are used by all students. Regular inspections of the studio by city government, what leads to a so called clean zone label. Under 2m distance we wear face masks, with more than 2m distance we remove the face mask. So that a close to normal lesson is possible. Only corrections in for example posture is more complicated.

May 11, 2020 at 06:25 AM · In Sydney, we've been sent back to school, even though we are still teaching online lessons (except for the final year) for immunity-equity reasons. Students are needn't to be in 20% easy essay of the week, but most parents seem to be keeping kids at home, which is much more sensible.

We can vist friends two at a time and last this I looked they were thinking of opening restaurants (yes, I know, right!).

So two of my students were back on Saturday after a 6 week break. The 9 great old will pick up quickly and will likely move to zoom in a couple of weeks, but the 5 year old beginner has forgotten how to hold a violin and were back at the beginning. No ononline lessons for her I think since even face to face is square 1. (Is there a thread for teaching tiny people on line?). One of my students will only ever be online till this is over, cause he permanently sniffles and puts his grubby hands everywhere.

I'm enjoying teaching school online (surprising to me but my friends point out this is normal for autism spectrum - less verbiage) so I think I'll likely move my after-schools mostly online either way unless they're still early beginners...

May 11, 2020 at 10:10 PM · You omitted my response: Never. But I do look forward to again gathering together with others to play formally and informally. Someday, but not soon, it seems.

May 14, 2020 at 05:42 PM · "Within a month." I'm not a teacher or student, but this is what I picked, based on what I see happening in my area. Elsewhere, it may take longer.

From two previous posters' comments:

"…the easing of restrictions, often being done for political reasons…"


"With the disorganized and indifferent response from our federal government, I'd say it's going to be a long time until people feel safe and ready …. Yes, some states are opening things up, but that seems more political than practical."

The extended shutdowns are what's being done for political reasons -- not the easing of restrictions. These shutdowns are unsustainable. Some state governors appear to be drunk on power. Did they ever stop to think how many small businesses in their states might not survive? The "cure" is far worse than the disease. It's like a killing frost. The damage is already done -- no matter how fast it warms up afterward.

Easing restrictions is a practical matter -- a matter of economic survival. Just listen to what Dallas salon owner Shelly Luther went through. Run time: 4:06.

On the federal government's response: The president himself made the right moves with the early travel bans and then the temporary halt to immigration. Predictably enough, his detractors called him racist and xenophobic. It was Congress that was disorganized and indifferent at the start. By being so fixated on their impeachment hoax, they are, in no small measure, responsible for allowing COVID-19 to sneak up on us.

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