by Jessica Solares, AFA, BM
I've been teaching music lessons for 20 years. I've taught voice, violin, piano and Kindermusik (early childhood music), and have been running our studio along with my husband Luis since 2008. When COVID-19 turned everything upside down this year, needless to say I was not at all excited about the prospect of moving our entire studio to an online format. I was concerned about distractions in the home, internet connectivity issues, out of tune instruments, lack of attention and focus, and concerns about one more thing to do on-screen. Then, something very interesting happened. I noticed my 8 year old daughter thriving in her virtual piano lessons in a way that she hadn't been when we were doing in-person lessons. Here is what I am absolutely loving about virtual lessons from a parent perspective:
1. No more driving to and from lessons means we get hours back in our day. This was a game changer!
Before, on piano day, my husband or I would have to leave work early to go pick her up from school and then drive to the studio for her lesson, then drive home and prep dinner and the other evening things we have to do. The 30-minute lesson was more like 90+ minutes of running around when you factor in all of the driving. Now we just log on from home, so easy!
2. My daughter has taken more ownership of her practicing.
She knows not to even ask about watching TV or other screen time unless she has practiced piano. This has helped her be more responsible about finding time in the day to practice. Sometimes it's first thing in the morning, and sometimes it's during virtual school break. Either way, my nagging has been cut way back! I've also noticed her creativity budding even more when practicing is not a chore, but just something she does as part of her day. She's been making up her own songs and trying to figure out songs she likes from the radio or TV.
3. I can keep an "ear" on the lessons and know what she needs to be working on.
It's helpful to be in more communication with her teacher, and also half listen in from the other room to hear how the teacher explains things to her in the lesson, so that if she does get stuck on something, I'm better able to help her in the same teaching style that her teacher is using.
4. She is occupied for a half hour so I can do something else!
It's usually something very exciting like clean the kitchen after dinner, but still. Enough said.
5. Out of town friends & family can tune in to virtual recitals and see her perform.
We normally hold our recitals at the beautiful Fine Arts Building in downtown Chicago. I do really miss the grand piano and views of Lake Michigan and Buckingham Fountain, there is something magical about performing there. However, the silver lining of hosting virtual recitals is that we don't have to limit capacity and people can join in from anywhere in the world! We have had grandparents tune in from other states and even other countries.
I was so hesitant about virtual lessons but they have really been a great option for our busy family. In fact, we like the virtual lessons so much that they are something that we will keep as an offering at Bucktown Music even when things are back to in-person. We offer lessons on most instruments and voice, for kids and adults, we hope you can join us! Music lessons also make a wonderful gift as we enter into the holiday season. We hope you have a healthy, safe and musical day!
Jessica Solares is one of the founders of Bucktown Music, along with her husband Luis. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Elmhurst College, and is a licensed Kindermusik educator with Top Program distinction.