Piano Skype Lessons: Are they really a substitute for face-to-face tuition?
I have been giving piano lessons for almost 20 years and when I first came across the idea of Skype Piano lessons, I admit, I was quite skeptical about it: doesn’t the student need to be in the same room with the teacher in order to really experience the full benefits of the tuition? Would not this be a bit artificial (particularly for us, the Piano-Yoga® Music School, since Piano-Yoga® promotes an holistic approach to piano playing) to rely so much on technology and the limitations of the computer screen?
However, due to my curiosity and inclination to explore new things, I decided to try this way of teaching by launching a Skype Piano-Yoga® Clinic. The result was better than I anticipated: people were ringing from all over the world, some asking about the piano repertoire that they needed to focus on, some on the details of the Piano-Yoga® method and some simply wanted specific technical help with their pieces. For example, with one student we spent quite a long time working on various trills and mordents, exploring the fingering that would work especially for her and at the end I was amazed with the efficiency of the whole process.
This is how Piano Skype Lessons were launched. This tuition method, which originally started as 10-minute online piano consultation sessions, has now been transformed into a well-established Skype Piano Lessons Online Practice as another branch of the Piano-Yoga® School. My students come from all over the world: Japan, Australia, USA, France and Germany. The feeling that you can communicate and work with someone on the other side of the world is absolutely amazing and rewarding and I guess, for those who like to study playing the piano through the Piano-Yoga® method, there is no longer the need to travel to London or follow my travel schedule.
Piano Skype Lessons can sometimes be even more focused than traditional piano lessons because all the communication is happening through the camera and therefore the direction of the camera and the size of the screen very much dictates the points that are discussed during the lesson. Somehow, talking about the weather and other pleasantries becomes less appropriate!
Sometimes we aim the camera at the particular hand in question, or at the student’s posture or face. On my side I am often adjusting the camera to show either my hands or do work on particular passages, or to discuss the whole posture issue. Because of this the process appears more intense (in a good way) and far more efficient.
Another plus of these lessons is that they usually start and finish exactly on time, without wasting time on getting ready for the lesson and leaving the room, which can sometimes take up to 10 minutes on each side!
Are Piano Skype Lessons for you? Test yourself against the checklist below:
Many of my students, who I teach at Steinway Hall and Schott Music in London, are still apprehensive about Skype online piano tuition and think that Piano Skype Lessons could never provide an adequate substitute for a normal lesson. Therefore, I created this checklist that will help you decide whether Skype Piano Lessons are for you:
- Do you want to study with a particular teacher but find hard to travel to see them regularly?
- Do you have a limited amount of time and therefore can not study regularly, due to the amount of time it takes to travel to see your teacher?
- Would you like to have shorter sessions rather than the one-hour lessons which many traditional piano schools provide?
- If you said yes to question 3 (above), do you think that piano lessons shorter than 60 minutes are not worth your travel time?
- Do you find that when you are on holiday and finally have the time to practise, as well as greater inspiration, your teacher is in another country?
If you sad yes to ANY of the questions above then Skype Piano Lessons are for you!
What you need in order to start Skype Piano Lessons:
Before committing to Skype Piano Lessons you need to make sure that:
- You chose your teacher because you really want to study them specifically, and not just because they provide Skype Piano Lessons.
- You have a good, fast internet connection at the address your lesson is due to take place (at least 2mb download and 0.5mb upload).
- You have a good and workable computer with a decent screen resolution (see below).
- You have a good quality microphone and good speakers.
- You have an adjustable camera (either built into the computer – I usually use my laptop – or external), so you can direct it towards specific perspectives during the lesson.
- Your computer can face the piano keyboard (this is why laptops are generally more practical and functional)
- You can install the latest version of Skype and check that you can see yourself and the piano keyboard in the camera.
Windows (XP – Win 7) or Mac OSX (Leopard, Snow Leopard and Lion)
Minimum 1GHz Processor
Minimum 256mb of RAM
DirectX 9 or above
Minimum of 1280×1024 resolution.
Choosing a Skype Piano Lesson Teacher:
At the end of the day, the efficiency of your lesson will very much depend on the teacher. The market is big and you need to find a teacher who is right for you (A separate blog on this will be coming soon!) Needles to say that the teacher needs to be well qualified, have good teaching ethics and, in general, suit your temperament, as well as share your goals and beliefs.
At our Piano-Yoga® Music School we offer many classes and lessons ranging from 20 minute individual sessions to full three-month courses (‘A’ and ‘B’):
You can always give us a call for an informal chat via Skype on weekdays 9:00-13:00 (GMT) search for us at ‘piano-yoga’, if you want to find out more, or email us on email@example.com.
In conclusion, I would say never stop developing and learning just because you do not have the time or means to travel to a lesson or person with whom you would like to learn, and if you are not a fan of technology do not dismiss the idea of using it to your advantage before trying it! You might be pleasantly surprised.
‘The beautiful thing about learning is that no-one can take it away from you’ – B.B. King
With all best wishes,