January 4, 2021
Welcome to 2021! This month our feature article is all about the pros and cons of online piano lessons. If you've been on the fence about them, you will definitely want to read this!
Feature Article: The Pros and Cons of Online Piano Lessons
The Pros And Cons Of Online Piano Lessons
The mission statement for Move Over Mozart is to provide quality, engaging piano lessons at a price all can afford. Once we transitioned over to online lessons, I wanted to keep our mission statement integrity. To do this, I’ve taken an intense look at the pros and cons of online lessons, tweaked what I could and here is what I’ve found.
Pros of Online Piano Lessons
NO SPREADING OF GERMS. We all dread the “cold season” and hate hearing about that “crud going around.” With online lessons, there is no worry about getting sick from your teacher or classmates. While this was the main motivating factor to go online this last year, it will always be true for the years ahead as well.
SUPER CONVENIENT! Online lessons mean zero commute! Being in your own home also means you don’t have to worry about entertaining another sibling in the car or keeping them quiet right outside the classroom. Additionally, parents are able to listen in on the lesson while they do other things around the house instead of just dead-time waiting. And of course, time saved is also money saved!
LESS CLASSES MISSED. Since there is no commute time, there is less opportunity to get stuck in traffic and miss a portion or all of a class. No commute time also means a lesson doesn’t have to be missed when there is no one available to transport the child or when another child is sick at home and needs to be cared for. And classes don’t have to be cancelled because of snow! Plus, since the class time is up to the parents instead of a pre-set class schedule, changing the time when conflicts do arise is no problem!
MORE ENGAGED PARENTS. Because parents are either part of the lesson with our little ones, or listening nearby with the older students, our parents now know a lot more about what happens in the piano class. With this knowledge they are better able to guide their child with practicing between lessons. More engaged does not necessarily mean more time, but instead, more focus and direction. That engagement, combined with our online practice app, has helped our students play the piano roughly 30% more than what they did in physical lessons!
BETTER USE OF TECHNOLOGY. Online lessons force us to use technology, and there are some great tools to help us all be better musicians. In Move Over Mozart, our online lessons are also incorporated with a practicing app, Tonara. This app, in addition to being a great place to keep track of assignments and practice time, also keeps all the technology in one spot. Recordings of a piece, worksheets to support a lesson, videos of technique or music theory, and sometimes even the music itself is all provided within the app. Additionally, students are able to text with their teacher or classmates between lessons, if needed.
KEEP YOUR TEACHER. With physical lessons, if you change your location, or if your teacher moves away, it is time to find a new piano teacher. With online lessons, you can have your lesson wherever you live! Already, Move Over Mozart has been able to offer lessons to students from different states and other locations our physical classes were not able to accommodate. Since going online, Move Over Mozart is now offering private lessons for when your child is ready to transition to more intense piano interaction than our regular classes offer.
OWN PIANO VERSUS TEACHER’S PIANO. We are always more comfortable in our own familiar surroundings. Going to a classroom or teacher’s studio creates a certain amount of anxiety no matter who the teacher is and how great the rapport is between them. If you are more comfortable, then it follows that you would also be more open and motivated to learning. This is especially important for shy or high anxiety students. In our physical Move Over Mozart classes, the teacher would bring in a portable keyboard to teach on and for the students to learn from. Keyboards are typically inferior to an acoustic piano, so having a student learn on their own piano at home instead of the keyboard in class is also a benefit.
Pros of In-Person Piano Lessons
OWN PIANO VERSUS TEACHER’S PIANO. On the other hand, many times a teacher has a piano that is a higher quality than the student’s. Having the lesson on the teacher’s piano gives the student the experience of playing on a quality instrument when they normally would not have that opportunity. So, this could be a pro or a con, depending on the student’s nature and their instrument.
RAPPORT AND ENGAGEMENT. The most important aspect of a lesson is the relationship between the student, parent and teacher. In physical lessons, this rapport typically happens fairly quickly. With online lessons, the relationship takes a little longer to establish and extra effort has to be made, but it is still possible. We have found using a bigger screen, like on a computer, helps to make the teacher’s face closer to its normal size, and more realistic, then when a tiny screen, like on a phone, is used. Also, students need time to test their boundaries and to understand the limitations of online lessons. This is pretty normal and similar to physical lessons, but with online lessons, the teacher needs the parent to be a “team player.” This also helps to foster great teamwork between all three players more so than in person lessons require. It is a bit more of a challenge, but rapport and engagement can happen in both types of lessons.
THE TEACHING TOUCH. We are familiar with the expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” That can be true in teaching as well. When in person, I can point to a part of the music and say something about it. Online I have to use verbal directions to indicate what part of the music I’m talking about. In person, if a student is struggling with curly fingers, I can take their hand and fold the fingers into a “C” shape. With online lessons, many students learn a bit more independence and quickly learn to follow verbal directions. For those that need a little more help, we rely on the parents to be our “hands”. Again, when parents are able to assist in this way it increases the team work and reinforces the rapport between student, teacher and parent. So while this is more of a challenge in online lessons, it is certainly not an obstacle that can’t be overcome.
ONLINE OVERLOAD. With school, work, and literally everything else going online, there is a concern that children are doing too much online. What is great about piano lessons, is that the student sits at the piano and plays whether it is in person or online. Their eyes are on their music or on their hands playing the keys. In many ways, it is a pleasant break from the regular online schooling.
PLAYING MUSIC TOGETHER. When in person, one advantage is playing duets or clapping a rhythm together with the student. Because of the lag time involved with an internet connection, this isn’t possible with online lessons. To compensate, teachers can record their part of the duet for the student to play along with. However, for the beginner student this takes quite advanced skill to keep a steady beat and listen while playing. Another option is to use the phone, which typically does not have lag time, to connect the sound and play together. There is a new streaming platform designed specifically for online music lessons, that gives the option to connect computer to computer, and wah-la! No lag time! Move Over Mozart will be transitioning to this platform, RockOutLoud.Live, beginning in January.
SOUND QUALITY. Many years ago, there was a commercial whose tag line was, “Is it real or memorex?” implying that a cassette recording was just as amazing as being at the concert in person. Technology has certainly improved since then, but even so, we still prefer the sound quality of live to a high quality recording. With online lessons, there are many factors involved, but internet speed and the platform used for the lessons are the two most important factors. This is another reason Move Over Mozart will be switching to RockOutLoud.Live in January.
We still plan to have physical lessons again sometime in the future, but online lessons are definitely here to stay. You will have to make your own decision, but personally, I now believe our online classes are far superior to our physical classes. As we continue to learn and technology develops, they can only get better! The enthusiasm and progress of our online students has been amazing and highly encouraging! If you want to “test-drive” our online classes, we have two opportunities right now. We are offering a free online piano party this Sunday, open to everyone. (See below for more details.) For new online students, we are offering the month of January at 40% off!
Each week we showcase a different student from our classes. Thanks to Calvin, Miriam, Ellie, Nathan, Iris and Devin for sharing their music with us! Like us on Facebook to see the new student each week. Watch Videos
Upcoming MOM Events
FREE Online Piano Party! This party is dedicated to all our former students and their friends. Our theme this month will be "Pajama Party." Students will have the opportunity to share their own music, create or improvise a song, participate in a "Jungle Adventure " musical story, and learn about W. A. Mozart as a young child. Come, meet our piano teachers, experience the quality of our new online streaming platform, play some music, and have fun! Click the link to sign up.
Piano Party Sign Up
January 10, 11:00 - 11:45, ages 7 - 12 years old
January 10, 12:00 - 12:45, ages 3 - 6 years old
Parent Information Meetings. Have questions about our online piano class program? Want a tour of our practicing app? Click the link to schedule your meeting with Miss Pam. Parent Info Meeting
Mr. Kevin aka Kevin Kenney is back! Kevin was our piano teacher at North Bellevue Community Center before we went online. After taking some time off, he is now back and available to teach the 8-minute mini-lessons or 30-minute private lessons. Visit his profile page
January's Video/Mini-Private Lesson Session begins Tuesday, January 12. Our New Year Special includes 40% off the first month. Start now! This discount will only be for January. Use the coupon code, "2021" to get the discount. Students are put into one of 4 classes depending on their age and musical ability.
Video/Mini-Private Lesson Subscription
Pre-Reading - Ages 3 - 5 years, or students not yet reading,
We use a color-coded method for the students to match their five fingers to five keys on the piano. New songs using only those 5 notes are given each week.
Primary - Ages 5 -7 years or older and brand new to music,
This group is for the very basics of piano playing. Students learn to play simple rhythms, correct hand position, and the names of the white keys on the piano.
Beginning Elementary - Ages 7-12 years or younger and reading notes,
This is for students just starting to read notes on the staff. Students are taught how the staff relates to the piano and how to translate the notes to making music. Also, having the students memorize a few key notes on the staff will help greatly with their ability to read music.
Advanced Elementary - Ages 7 - 12 years with previous piano lessons
This group already reads notes on the staff and can immediately identify many of the notes by name. They will learn more advanced technique and music theory beyond the initial basics of learning to play.
Parents Ask Pam
Have a question for Miss Pam? You can email, text message, or message on Facebook your questions. She will respond immediately to you, and your question might be featured in future newsletters.
Q: I would like some opinions on piano practicing. Do you leave it to the child to practice piano on his/her own accord so as not to kill their passion or do you insist on daily practicing?
I often get asked what is my objective on letting my kid learn piano. Is it to let her become a musician? My answer is no, I do not want her to become a musician (unless she really like it when she's all grown up). They would reply then why am I so insistent on daily practicing and why do I keep making sure she is making good progress. Just let her be, don't kill her passion. So how much is considered 'pushing'?
A: I see music as a vital part of our education. We teach math, but don’t expect our kids to become mathematicians. We teach science without the scientist expectation. Music should be the same way. By learning to play an instrument, being a musician is a career option. Without learning, being a musician will not even be an option. But, even so, you expect your child to learn and succeed, just like you would expect them to succeed in any other subject.
Even if your child loves the piano, they still need discipline and encouragement. Yes, set a daily time for piano. Yes, sit with your child to guide how and what they practice. This is especially important in their first couple of years, no matter how old they are. How much involvement and direction you give would vary based on their age and temperament. I encourage my students to always start with something they enjoy, not necessarily from their assignments. But they need to play something for fun to help with the motivation. Then they get into their lesson. Set a goal (or several) to accomplish with each piece and practice time. When they reach their goal, practice is done, and it is not related to time. If the goal is too challenging or frustrating, go on to a different piece and come back later. Sometimes the break is all that is needed. Sometimes a different goal needs to be decided. But a parent is needed to help determine realistic goals. Then, end a practice time with something fun.
In the beginning of learning a new instrument, there is a lot of theory. Playing games is a fun way to reinforce the theory concepts. A parent or other sibling is needed to play some of these games. This is another way to keep practice time fun which also increases motivation.
Your Comments And Questions
Contact Pamela Cornell, Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-227-1611