Another student of mine, Catherine, came to her first in-person lesson yesterday since the quarantine began. It was a hotter day so we moved from the porch to the shadier patio in back. Catherine ordinarily has a joyful smile. But this day her smile was even ‘smilier’. Mine was too. It was so good to see her. Catherine has thrived during the quarantine, clarinet-wise. She is proficient at most subjects and activities so was stretched for practice time during the school year. The quarantine gave her extra time to practice without distractions. She sent recordings a few times a week, and she began to bloom as a musician. It has been wonderful to witness her improvement through Facetime.
But I didn’t really know how far she’d come until we were together in person. I was blown away by what I heard. Her focus level is greater. Her sound has improved and her technique has become more fluid. I could not hear much of this over the Internet. But in person? Wow!
I thought students might like to hear from a peer about porch lessons, in case they wish to pursue this avenue with their private instructor. Here is what Catherine had to say:
D. What was your impression when we began on the backyard patio? For instance, I was really happy to see you and super-interested to hear you play in person.
Catherine: I thought the backyard lesson worked out really well, and would 100% do it again. I didn’t have to worry about losing connection or any technical difficulties, and it was just nice to play for you in person.
D. Which do you prefer—internet or face-to-face lessons? Why?
Catherine: I prefer face-to-face because I think there are subtle but important embouchure, tone, articulation, etc. corrections that can be made in person that just can’t be detected over facetime. Also, Wayne and Gracie are really cute.
(L. to R. Wayne and Gracie)
D. What did you like about internet lessons, if anything? Do you think you improved? If so, in what areas?
Catherine: I think Facetime lessons were an appropriate substitute for in-person lessons given the current situation. I could at least get some feedback on my playing over the phone. I think I improved on gaining more tongue control when tonguing at different speeds and creating a rounder sound quality, but I am still working on those two things.
D. Was there anything that surprised you today? Something you had forgotten about?
Catherine: It’s funny; I had to think about this question. I think even though you are my teacher, and I am more comfortable to play around you than other people, there’s a different “pressure” to play for someone in person. Because, since quarantine, I have been playing into my phone for either lessons or recordings, there’s just a different vibe when playing for another person in person.
D. Any other comments?
Catherine: Music teachers and students should definitely consider porch/backyard lessons if possible. They’re really fun and refreshing.