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Posts Tagged ‘SKYPE piano lessons’

Last month I began teaching piano lessons online.  Many of my online piano teaching colleagues have been doing this for quite a while and I decided to make the plunge.  Even before I began teaching online I spoke with my online piano teaching friends and speculated that the online piano lesson would be of a different nature than traditional studio teaching.

I found that I was correct.  To teach online piano lessons, as if it were simply like a studio one on one piano lesson, is to miss the subtlety that distance learning provides.  I feel it is a mistake to view online lessons as a lesser version of the private studio lesson but I think many people hold this incorrect assumption.  The two kinds of lessons are different animals.  It is important to know those differences to provide the most effective instruction.  The following quote gives us clues on the differences between online music lessons and one on one studio lessons.

American Journal of Distance Education, 24(2), 92-103. Orman, E. K. and Whitaker, J. A. (2010).

Time usage during face-to-face and synchronous distance music lessons.

This experimental study closely compares multiple aspects of applied instrumental music lessons in face-to-face and online lesson settings. Three middle school students (one saxophonist, two tubists) had lessons with a saxophone and tuba instructor respectively. Each student had a mix of face-to-face and online video lessons which were videotaped and coded for a variety of factors. When on-line lessons were compared to face to face lessons, there was a 28% increase in student playing, a 36% decrease in off-task comments by the instructor, a 28% decrease in teacher playing (modeling), and an increase in student eye contact. In the online lessons, less than 3% of the time was spent on technology issues, although audio and video quality concerns were mentioned.

This quote highlights the different nature of one on one learning (studio learning) with distance learning (online piano lessons). This quote also demonstrates they are indeed two different animals and brings out distinct advantages that online distance learning provides.  Let’s examine some of the statements of this quote and take note of distinct differences between studio learning and distance learning.

When on-line lessons were compared to face to face lessons, there was a 28% increase in student playing,

Online lessons, by their nature, is a medium that will increase the students playing time on their instrument.  Teachers need to use this information positively in designing their online lessons.  If the nature of the medium is to have the student play 28% more, on average, the teacher can adjust the lesson with this in mind.  The learning will be in the doing more than in the explaining.

The tasks of the online lesson are suited to the specific performance on the instrument more so than in studio one on one lessons.  I found this to be true in the lessons I taught online.  It was very natural to give focus to the performance and go through each passage several times.  In face to face lessons each repetition was an instruction dealing with what would improve the playing of the passage.  Another subtle difference was in the online lesson there was more trying out better fingerings instead of just a verbal instruction to use the fingering given in the manuscript.

a 36% decrease in off-task comments by the instructor

I also found this comment to be true and also something that’s simply the nature of online instruction.  When you’re with the student one on one it is natural to talk to the student about thinks not directly related to the musical material and it’s easy to get off task and speak of items not directly related to the lesson.  Certainly it’s important for any teacher to have some knowledge of their students that are not musically related but online lessons, by their nature, decrease off-task comments by the instructor. Knowing this the instructor can prepare a lessons that’s very task oriented and can feel at the end of the lesson they covered their material in depth.  The teacher feels not that “we had a good lesson this week” but “we got a lot of important material covered in this weeks lesson“; a subtle but important difference.

a 28% decrease in teacher playing (modeling)

Again, I found this to be true.  During the online lesson I do a lot less modeling than in the one on one studio lesson.  Again the nature of the online lesson directs attention very naturally on the student’s performance and the perceptive teacher will direct his attention to this fact; and I feel a very positive fact if the teacher uses it to their advantage.  It is in issues like this that I feel it is not smart teaching to make the online learning experience simply mimic the face to face studio lesson.  They indeed are two different animals and each has its own nature to give students the maximum benefit of the lesson time.  (NOTE: This blog is not to downgrade studio lessons but to highlight the distinct advantages online distant learning provides by comparison.)

and an increase in student eye contact

I find it interesting that online lessons resulted in an increase in eye contact.  But in private lessons when one doesn’t slide into non-musical conversation one involves themselves in teaching tasks that doesn’t require eye contact.  Things like modeling or writing in the student’s books and manuscripts or in pointing out items in the score.  But in teaching online after one is completed with all their performance tasks the student instinctively looks into the WebCam to look for the teacher’s next instruction and a good bit of eye contact is made because the teacher in looking into his WebCam to make eye contact with the student.  So, even something as personal as eye contact is increased in online lessons compared to one on one studio lessons.  Another plus for online lessons simply because of the nature of online learning vs studio instruction.

In the online lessons, less than 3% of the time was spent on technology issues, although audio and video quality concerns were mentioned.

To be truthful this issue did come up.  There were times when we got cut off or I lost the video of the student, or when using a different camera view I had to learn how to deal with microphone issues, but these were quickly resolved and just proved a minor inconvenience.

ONE MORE THING: Students take ownership of their music and manuscripts.

When I’m one on one with a student I generally did all the writing in the student’s books and manuscripts.  I cannot do this when teaching online, of course BUT I have the student write all my recommendations.  By having the student to do this, the student takes ownership of the music they are learning.  When they write “no pausing between sections” on their music it means more to them than if I do it.

I hope this blog got you to thinking of the different nature of piano lessons caused by the medium we use, whether one on one studio teaching or online piano lessons.  The different nature of each should automatically cause adjustments in our teaching.  As a teacher we need to maximize those adjustments to the full benefit of our students.  AND as the beginning research begins analyzing and comparing the two mediums online piano lessons provide some distinct advantages that can be utilized by the perceptive and savvy piano teacher.

SKYPE LOGO 6If interested in online piano lessons or studio lessons in the Wexford PA area call Dan Severino at 724-935-2840 or 724-898-0273.

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EXPANDING SERVICES

AT

Piano Lessons PLUS

In the late 80’s is when I made the jump into the world of computers.  I did a lot of reading and saw the great potential that was developing in using computers in music education.  I’ve been using computers ever since and have never looked back.

Today – a quarter of a century later – I see a new leap forward as the computer industry advances in making technology more immediately useful to educators.  The opportunities are too much to pass up.  What I can now offer students is so much more than I could when I began my professional teaching career in the late 70’s.  I can even offer a great deal more than I could when I began Severino’s Piano Keyboard Lab in 1988.  Let’s begin to explore what I can offer to piano students in this new wave of innovation.

IMPROVING EFFICIENCY AND PROFESSIONALISM IN TRADITIONAL PRIVATE LESSONS

Tablet Computers is going to bring computing to a new level usefulness.  The power that can be packed into a thin computing device the size of a book is revolutionary.  Here is how I plan to take advantage of this technology in my PRIVATE LESSONS at Severino’s Piano Lessons PLUS.  I will continue to use my innovative system of marking my students books by using highlighters to draw the student attention to my instruction.  (See “HIGHLIGHT” Your Teaching).  I will still continue to use the books and methods I’ve published through Piano Teacher Press.  I will still continue to utilize the creative music programs I developed for readying students for music lessons when I was going to schools as Dan Dan the Music Man.  I will still continue using the computer programs I designed that supplements the method books I designed in my Keyboard Kid series of books.  What I will now begin to offer is a new level and a new dimension of instruction using the newest technologies available to give you better and more creative musical instruction.

What I can now do is to made a COMPUTER NOTEBOOK for each student.  This notebook will include, among other things, mp3 files of key explanations given in my lessons.  Let’s say in a lesson there is a need for a thorough explanation of “key signatures“.  I can easily record this part of the lesson and include it in the student’s personal computer notebook.  After the lesson I can now send this is to eMail this recording TO YOU so you can review the lesson again at home.  The instruction can be reviewed for greater, more comprehensive learning.

Let’s say a little later in the lesson I assign a new composition.  Very often I would play the piece for the student.  Now I can make either an mp3 of the piece or even a video of the piece and put this directly into the student’s computer notebook.

I recently had a student learn – O What A Beautiful Morning from the musical Oklahoma.  We listened to this song on YouTube.  Now, I can put the link in the student’s computer notebook where they can listen to the piece again.  They may enjoy the piece so much they may even put it on their personal iPod.

Often at the end of a lesson I don’t always get through all the music the student prepared.  I can put a little note in the student’s notebook what we need to cover first at the next lesson.  I can put a notation into the student’s computer notebook and send it via eMail so it will not get misplaced.  I have a record and the student has the same record so there is less confusion and communication breakdowns.  Progress will gain consistency.

It is the practice of many teachers to play new assignments for their students.  What I can now do is make a video of that performance and again put it into the STUDENT NOTEBOOK.  They can now have the performance as part of their permanent record.  The student will not have to recall what they remember  from the lesson but will have live recordings and performances of the most important parts of their lessons.  This cannot help but make the piano lessons more effective.

I can also bring little inspirational quotes and easily put it in each students notebook to personalize the student’s notebook.  It will be much easier for me to get out universal messages to my students concerning recitals or auditions.  As it is now it’s easy for me to forget a family or two concerning an upcoming event.  Now it will be much easier to get my messages to parents.  This only scratches the surface to what I can do through Tablet Computers in making my studio run more efficiently and more professionally.

EXPANDING CONVENIENCE CAN MEAN LESS TRAVEL FOR YOU!!

Another emerging technology that has emerged in the past few years is that of the teleconference; the connecting of people not only aurally but visually.  Some means of doing this is Google Plus – Adobe Connect – and the popular SKYPE.  SKPYE has become a popular platform for piano teachers to connect with student for a piano lesson.  A WebCam (Web Camera) often included with laptop computers, an internet connection and SKYPE (a free download of SKYPE software HERE ) is all you need.

I know many people, both adults and children, would love to take piano lessons if only it could be made a little bit more convenient.  Severino’s Piano Lessons PLUS is going to now offer a program of study where one can, for example, take only one lesson per month at my studio and the other lessons through SKYPE.  This would be especially helpful for busy professionals wanting a self-study program.  BUT with the advent of “cyber-schools” it is being found that young children can learn just fine through this type of computer technology.  Many people are even getting college degrees learning at home with a minimum of visits to a local university.  Please call my studio at (724) 935-2840 if this program interests you.  On the table below are the basic plans I devised for my expanding service of “CYBER-PIANO LESSONS”

PLAN 1 PLAN 2  PLAN 3 PLAN 4 PLAN 5 PLAN 6
30 minute PRIVATE 30 minute  PRIVATE 45 minute PRIVATE 60 minute PRIVATE 45 minute PRIVATE 60 minute PRIVATE
20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE
20 minute SKYPE 30 minute PRIVATE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 45 minute PRIVATE 60 minute PRIVATE
20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE
90 minutes  monthly 100 minutes monthly 105 minutes monthly 120 minutes monthly 130 minutes monthly 160 minutes monthly
$75.00 monthly $83.35 monthly $87.50 monthly $100.00 monthly $108.35 monthly $133.35 monthly

Some may have questions concerning the effectiveness of online piano lessons. Here is an encouraging note.  Actually, the nature of the medium gives way to increased focus and concentration.  Thus, one can more done in less time and actually costs can be contained.  This is why I designed my SKYPE lessons to be 2o minutes in length and pass that savings on to you.

American Journal of Distance Education, 24(2), 92-103. Orman, E. K. and Whitaker, J. A. (2010).

Time usage during face-to-face and synchronous distance music lessons.

This experimental study closely compares multiple aspects of applied instrumental music lessons in face-to-face and online lesson settings. Three middle school students (one saxophonist, two tubists) had lessons with a saxophone and tuba instructor respectively. Each student had a mix of face-to-face and online video lessons which were videotaped and coded for a variety of factors. When on-line lessons were compared to face to face lessons, there was a 28% increase in student playing, a 36% decrease in off-task comments by the instructor, a 28% decrease in teacher playing (modeling), and an increase in student eye contact. In the online lessons, less than 3% of the time was spent on technology issues, although audio and video quality concerns were mentioned.

THE EXPANDED SERVICE OF MUSIC LESSONS IN YOUR HOME

I mentioned that I began my teaching career by going to my student’s homes.  When I saw the great things computer technology could add to piano lessons I began to do all my teaching at my studio.  Now with the advent of the new technologies including the tablet computer I can bring a large part of that technology from my studio to YOUR HOME.  With a  piece of equipment the size of a book, and a rather thin book at that, I can again offer piano lessons as part of my expanded services.

Again, if this is the type of convenience you need please don’t hesitate to call my studio at (724) 935-2840.  CALL TODAY!!

These EXPANDED SERVICES actually only scratch the surface of the exciting options I have available to offer my students.  My first studio, Severino’s Piano Keyboard Lab, had the byline – Where Traditional Instruction Meets Modern Technology;  That byline is still true and growing at Severino’s Piano Lessons PLUS.

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