In-Person vs Virtual Lessons

Edited: April 23, 2021, 11:25 AM · Now that I've experienced both in-person lessons and virtual (as a student), what are your thoughts on the pros and cons of both? For me, virtual is more convenient - and that's about where the benefits end. Both tone and the physicality of playing are difficult to assess/correct on-line. When I was doing virtual lessons during the pandemic, I thought I would continue virtually even when it ended. Now that I'm in live lessons, I see the stark differences.

Replies (5)

April 23, 2021, 11:03 AM · Try helping a young student tune a string that has slipped.

Talk about wasting time--that alone, even with a parent helping, can take most of a lesson.

April 23, 2021, 11:34 AM · I agree that trying to help a younger student tune is the most frustrating part of virtual lessons.

Other disadvantages include the difficulty of evaluating a student’s dynamic range (this can be worked around by having the student send recordings), being unable to play with a student (can be worked around to some degree by asking the student to mute themselves although then all feedback becomes visual only, and accompanying the student is still impossible), and having zoom or whatever app is being used randomly slow down and speed up on its own (workaround is having the student play with their own metronome – if the metronome is speeding up, you know it’s not the student).

Advantages are convenience, and losing the excuse of “I left my music at home.” More substantial advantages are an increase in instructional time if the student is tuned and ready to go at the start of the lesson, and the ability to hold the lesson even if the student has a mild infectious illness such as a cold.

Two of my students live an hour’s drive from me and we have been having much more regular lessons since moving to zoom then we did when we had to schedule their lessons around their family’s ability to get them to my house. Three other students live far enough away that they would not be taking lessons from me at all if not for zoom.

Edited: April 27, 2021, 1:08 PM · I am relatively new to online teaching and have a question. I was doing a lesson with a student a couple of days ago on zoom and the sound on his end kept cutting out especially in the higher registers. There didn't seem to be a problem on my end. He suggested we switch to facetime which solved the problem. Have others had the same type of problem? I'm going to be doing some online master classes for the Young Strings program of the Dallas Symphony and would appreciate any information about how to handle this. Thanks, Bruce
April 27, 2021, 1:09 PM · @Bruce B

I have a feeling this will have something to do with the sound settings at both ends (yours and your student's). I think you need to make sure that you "Allow original sound" in your settings of the Zoom software. I would urge you/your student to invest in a microphone to help with audio quality.

I find Facetime has a much better quality of sound and stability all round.

April 28, 2021, 8:52 AM · It varies depending on the equipment of both parties but I have not found that "original sound" is the panacea it's made out to be. More often, "automatically adjust microphone volume" is the (bigger) culprit or the student's microphone is just bad. No software setting will compensate for that kind of hardware deficiency.

I say it varies because early in the pandemic, FaceTime sound was cutting out for me and Zoom sound was not - but maybe it was the actual devices we were using. I stopped checking 3-octave scales for a time because it was so worthless to not hear the top octave.

Has that youth strings program been holding online rehearsals already? They likely have a preferred platform and already gone through basic tech setup and issues with students.

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