I have been teaching exclusively online since 16 March 2020. Almost instantly, Zoom, Skype, Facetime and Google meets became the “new normal”. By comparison with face-to-face lessons, attendance at online piano lessons improved significantly; I can count on one hand the number of missed piano lessons over the past 15 months. Significant progress was made by all students who completed video sight reading tasks and picked up on my cues regarding personal practice. A good handful have also achieved exam success using the new assessment products available to us (recorded video performance exams). The benefit from the parent’s perspective is you don’t have to take account of travel time for an online piano lesson!
That said, you’ll appreciate that my own experience of the online learning environment is generally positive, and therefore does not agree with the overwhelmingly negative assessment of online education presented in the media. So, given the positive impact on students’ learning, I fully expect that online piano lessons will continue to be a significant teaching and learning environment for us as we continue learning how to live in a pandemic. However, as we move into Level 0, it is time to begin exploring what face-to-face teaching might look like; but please bear in mind that even at Level 0, “People are advised to work from home wherever that is practicable” (www.gov.scot). So, this is not simply a matter of getting back to what we did before; it’s about exploring ways to create a “new normal” that is safe and flexible.
As as “sole trader”, my first business priority is my own health, without which I would not be able to offer piano lessons at all. Alongside that, the health of my students (the whole cohort) is also crucial. In order to ensure the covid safety of the learning environment, the following measures will be in place for face-to-face piano lessons:
- I am double-vaccinated
- I will test regularly
- I am working with a Health & Safety Adviser at NHS Fife to ensure the safety of the learning environment.
- I have completed a Risk Assessment, which you can find here.
- I will teach only from my own studio, and will not be visiting student’s homes for lessons.
- If we should move from Level 0 to any of the higher levels, we will revert immediately to online lessons.
- If I test positive, feel unwell, or if I’m instructed to self-isolate, we will revert to online lessons.
- If a student tests positive, feels unwell, or if they’re instructed to self-isolate, their lessons can continue online.
- I have over 50 piano students each week. I will facilitate separation between students by teaching lessons face to face and online alternately. To enable this, students who opt for in-person lessons will alternate weekly lessons between online and in person.
- The physical teaching space means that it will no longer be possible to have a parent or siblings in the room during lessons. I would be more happy to encourage parents to observe their child’s lesson via a video call.
- Please avoid using public transport. If you have to use public transport, we can continue with piano lessons online.
- Please arrive on time. I will greet the student at the front door, wearing a mask; and I ask that the student should arrive wearing a face covering. At that point, I will invite the student to use the hand sanitiser provided (this can also be used at the end of the piano lesson).
- In order to avoid unnecessary cleaning tasks between lessons, the student should not touch anything other than the piano. Piano lessons are generally 30 minutes, so there should be no need for anyone to use the loo during their lesson – even though other people’s bathrooms hold a strange fascination for children!
- Once we are seated at the piano, I will invite the student to remove their mask if they wish.
- There will be two pianos side-by-side in the room; one for students, and the other for me. As my job is to do most of the talking, I will keep my facemask on through the lesson. Good ventilation will be ensured with the window open. The student piano will be cleaned before each lesson.
- Lessons will conclude at the time agreed, and you should be ready to collect your child at that time. At the end of the lesson, we will put our masks back on, then make our way to the front door.
- As I have been doing with online lessons, I will continue to send out lesson appointment reminders before each lesson; and lesson notes and a payment request link after each lesson as this will reduce unnecessary contact.