Students opting out of video-chat lessons?
So, I have now sent a vote to all of my students.
The options were:
#1: start using video-chat to teach until I'm allowed to teach in person again.
#2: wait a month, and at that point, credit the remaining lessons that they'd already paid for going forward.
Currently, about 30% have chosen video chat lessons, 20% have opted for waiting it out, and 50% haven't responded.
I should mention that of the 20% who opted out, most were adult students.
Anyways, I'm assuming that the majority of the 50% who haven't yet responded are going to opt out, because if pursuing the video chat option was important to them, they'd want to let me know ASAP. I'll soon be sending a follow-up message to them to confirm this.
My question is this: has anyone else had a significant portion of students opting to wait it out rather than pursue video chat lessons? If so, did they express why?
Another thing: perhaps I shouldn't have had a vote at all? Maybe I should have just said "hey everyone, we're switching to video chat from now on"? I just felt that they should have a choice, since it's almost certain that online lessons will be less efficient for the cost than in-person lessons.
They're probably just lazy and want bigger holidays...
Yes you should just say you're switching to video until further notice. One our our teachers we pre-pay the semester, so not really an option to stop. However if we don't find a better conferencing solution it's going to be tough. We tried Zoom, Facetime, and Skype, using Macbook Pro and iPad Pro, with similar results. Ironically the video quality is acceptable, but the audio just isn't going to cut it. I even tried an experiment today with decent recording gear instead of the built-in mics; better but still not good.
The opt-outs may have less to do with a willingness to do video chats or not, and more to do with just a fundamental angst about our situations generally, and therefore an uncertainty about proceeding with lessons now anyway. We all have much to worry about now. That's just my uneducated opinion.
There are certain things folks can try to do over video but I think it's a poor substitute for the real thing in person. At least given the current state of technology at home.
I need to start doing video lessons this week! I have tested Skype laptop to laptop and the violin sounds pretty good. Would you recommend Skype or something else?
@Gary, it all depends on the microphone of the device.
Mark, I have to agree. I think many people are just so stressed right now that violin lessons are the least of their concerns. Perhaps I shouldn't take it personally.
Erik, assuming that teaching is an important part of your income, I would strongly recommend that you do what you can to switch as many of your students as possible to video lessons as soon as possible. At this point, no one knows for sure how long all this will last and what it may develop to. So make some money and build a cushion to ride it out while you can. I think adapting is your best option at this point.
There is absolutely enough bandwidth to support a Cisco telepresence suite from home, if you are on fiber or high-speed cable -- Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-Verse, or something like that. Most of us don't have one at home because in order to make the illusion work properly you need to furnish and paint to the necessary specifications. (I nearly did this in one room of my house.)
My son's entire program has switched to virtual. No option. It is what it is. Semester is already paid for, so they either do virtual or lose out. They are even going to try to do chamber music and group classes.
I had all video calls last week, more for planning/discussion/connection than "lesson", and just sent out my full distance learning plan. It probably isn't what many of them expect (just because I mentioned some of the details last week doesn't mean they'll have remembered or understood), and I won't be surprised if someone says, this is not what I signed up for.
I found that a lot of people didn't respond right away. When I contacted them again the day before their lesson, I got replies. I just told them we were switching. When the schools closed, I started thinking about it and offered online as an option. When they closed the restaurants, I just knew it was time to switch. We haven't been ordered to stay at home yet. But, I expect that will happen soon. I think people just have a lot on their minds.
Could it be money? Lessons are further down the priority list when no one knows what next week will look like..
Our music program didn't give an option to opt out. They could cancel lessons and that would fall under our regular cancellation policy.
Well, you learned a valuable lesson here, Erik. If you give people a choice, some of them will take the choice you weren't hoping for. No response? I understand -- the flood of email is tremendous right now with the CEO of every company in America reminding us that "they're here for us," and the news cycle has gone from 24 hours to 2.4 hours with President Trump having suddenly discovered the Press Conference.
I'll share my point of view as an adult student: I've also been offered online classes, but I've declined and have agreed with my teacher that we'll check our schedules and try to catch up with those classes when this situation is over. I prefer to have my teacher physically present since I'm not advanced enough (or have enough of a good technique) to progress by myself with confidence, knowing I'm not making any gross mistake. By having my teacher physically in the same room I'm playing, he can observe me better, from different angles, and correct my bad position, my bowing, my fingers, my arm, elbow or back. He can also listen better to my intonation that way.
@Erik, If you were my teacher, I would appreciate this gesture of asking for my preference via vote.
I agree with Sivrit even though, at first glance, her view might seem to oppose what I previously posted. I'm behind on taking the lessons I've already paid for. But my violin teacher is such a wonderful person that if some unused tuition disappears into his wallet, I will not be the slightest bit bothered. He has done so much for me and my family.
My teacher switched to online lessons but I chose to opt out for now. For me I just don’t see video lessons as being effective especially for the same price as face to face. Not trying to be cheap but I don’t want to throw money away either in the current situation. Especially when there is so much great video content online for free. Or teachers offering online lessons at less than half her rate for that matter. More so when she’s never done online lessons before.
The idea I would like to impart to adults such as Richard and Miguel is that you're assuming this is only going to last a little while. If it lasts longer, are you really OK with:
I agree with Erik that saying, "oh, I'll drop out for now because it's not as good of a value for the money" is basically kicking your teacher in the nuts. I pay a semester in advance so I'd only be cheating myself. On the other hand, if you're paying lesson-by-lesson and your own livelihood is also on the line, then I have to agree with Richard that it's a tough call.
That’s the point I was making, that it’s not just ineffective instruction. My company already furloughed 50% of staff. That’s enough to make anyone wonder about unnecessary expenses.
Thanks for the clarifications, Miguel and Richard. I suppose I have a tendency to assume that the average adult who is taking 1-hour violin lessons has a pretty decent disposable income. So, if you're feeling insecure about your financial situation, it's totally understandable that you're take a hiatus from lessons in this crisis.
Erik, I don't mind answering the question. My teacher is a faculty member in a local private music school called Renaissance Music Academy of Southwestern Virginia. The whole school policy is to pay a semester in advance for all services including weekly lessons, violin group, chamber orchestra, and theory. Ordinarily, students are expected to pay for
I'm currently in an okay situation, and I thought about not taking lessons during this work-from-home time, but I really need the normalcy of lessons so am doing remote ones with my teacher for the time being. I don't have enough disposable income for weekly lessons (I WISH I did in the best of times!), but some lessons are better than no lessons...
Erik - you’re right in that I do have a decent disposable income but if it vanished for 4 or 5 months that might be another situation.
I’m progressing better with books and online videos at least for now...
Hmmm, it's highly suspicious if you're truly progressing better without the teacher than with her.
Erik - I can absolutely say that I am. I’m much more focused on what I’m learning and concentrating on just one piece and one or two exercises at a time, and applying the lesson from a boom or video in one focused area. I’ve seen improvement in my left hand and my bow control, and gone back to a couple of pieces had trouble with and played them much easier.
How many pieces was she assigning you weekly?
We have doubled up on lessons, two FaceTimes a week, one hour each.
Usually two new ones
I am starting to see config guidelines for lessons online. For Zoom it looks like everyone in the meeting needs to disable speech processing and the automatic gain controls which are on by default. (Set "allow original sound" and "allow stereo" in both participants general settings, then both turn on "original sound" and stereo when in the meeting and turn off "automatically adjust microphone".) You get feedback this way though, and need headphones or earbuds as the workaround, unless everyone but the presenter is muted, which doesn't work for individual lessons.
A few of my students made huge progress in the last week and a half...because parent is now more involved and they are practicing more. To be fair, we're not after *progress* as a main goal. This is more for continuity of life amidst crisis, but it wouldn't be accurate to say that lack of in-person lessons is better!
I am currently opting out.
@Stan Yates, since the lockdown, my children have been taking violin,piano and karate private lessons using zoom with no issues. We did invest on a good HD camera that we put on a tripod. The camera is also connected to the laptop via a usb connection, and the laptop is attached to a big screen TV via HDMI connection for their violin and karate lessons. For piano, we just have the camera on a tripod attached to the laptop, as it is hard to move the piano...lol.
With default audio settings, these apps are optimized for speech and I don't like what it does to music. Also we're out a bit beyond the suburbs so our bandwith and latency is not the greatest. I don't agree with 100% of what this guy says but it covers a lot of my issues,
We are trying out a lesson via Zoom after work today. He experimented with this earlier in the week and said it worked well, I'm willing to try it to both get in my lesson and to support my teacher. I may use my earbuds - but only in one ear if I do. I'm less concerned about sound on my end than what it sounds like for him.
The music school my violin teacher belongs to is quite disorganized and hasn't set up anything. And I'm okay with taking a break from it. BUT, I think it's important to practice what I've learned so far everyday. I also have a subscription to Violin Lab which I find to be really helpful especially since the Lockdown. It's pretty well organized and Beth Blackerby explains things in detail. It was through her videos that I figured out what I was doing wrong and she gives a lot of good tips and advice.
Phoebe, they may be under the impression that the lockdown will only last a month. A lot of people seem to believe that, including some of my students. Switching to online teaching is a really big change, especially for an entire music school. And if the switch happens and then it only lasts for a few weeks, the potential disruption could be greater than the benefit. However, it's becoming increasingly clear that this will not just magically disappear come April, so hopefully your school comes to its senses.
Thanks for the explanation - I hadn't thought of that. There are other things bothering me about the school though that I hadn't mentioned, so this situation kind of added to it.
In our case more literally.