Corona Favours new Teaching Method

Before the Corona pandemic, remote teaching wasn’t really a thing. Now many teachers want to hold on to it.

Niklaus Rüegg – Remote teaching has made many headlines recently. The principal of regional music school Liestal by Basel, Frank Josephs, had already created a discussion during last year’s teacher convention. In the meantime, music schools have had a reality check. On the Thursday preceding the lockdown, the canton decided that all schools would have to close starting Monday. Schools switched to online teaching overnight, mostly without trouble. Only about 1 percent of parents and teachers spoke up against this change. Josephs is impressed: «It usually takes years of workshops, discussions, and test runs to implement anything new.»
Following the reopening of the schools on May 11th, the discussion remains. Teachers now appreciate this new way of learning and would like to maintain it: «Teachers have asked me whether they would be allowed to continue teaching remotely under certain circumstances» says Josephs. He sees a few scenarios – both for emergencies and supplemental teaching – which would create promising alternatives. The principal will initiate discussions on different levels, with the goal of finding a suitable solution.

Foto von Sally Ann Yeh

Teaching over Skype is nothing new
Violinist and violist Sally Ann Yeh comes from the UK. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London (LRAM) with Kenneth Sillito, in Köln with Igor Ozim, and at the Manhattan School of Music, New York, with Oleh Krysa. Apart from her performance career as a chamber musician, she now also teaches at the regional music school Liestal. Sally Ann is a seasoned online teacher. This allowed her to stay in touch with her professors without traveling as much. Ten years ago, she already organized Skype masterclasses for her advanced students, with one of her teachers in California. The teens benefitted immensely from private and ensemble lessons. Yeh considers online teaching an enrichment, but not a replacement of the traditional teaching form.

Mrs. Yeh, what thoughts did run through your mind when schools had to close in mid-March?
I've been very fortunate to have studied remotely for so many years already. Technology-wise, this wasn't a big change for me.

You have years of experience in teaching online. What are your thoughts on this method?
I recall only great experiences with my teacher. We had previously worked one on one in Germany and had developed an almost telepathic relationship. When switching to online lessons, this telepathy continued, and I always understood his instructions. He has such an immense and deep knowledge of violin performance that he would always understand my performance immediately, regardless of technical difficulties with Skype.
Creating online classes for a music school is slightly different. In my experience, students have reacted differently, depending on their age, ability to concentrate, and their level, although they have adapted with time.

Professor Hrachya Harutyunian, who had already worked with your students over skype 10 years ago, thinks that teaching online is better than one on one classroom teaching. Do you agree with this opinion?
I disagree. As mentioned, there is a huge difference between working with professionals or students or with kids or teens.

Do you see online teaching as an emergency solution, or are there advantages over traditional teaching?
In my opinion, online teaching for music schools is more of an emergency solution, and it becomes very exhausting in the long run!
A big advantage for professional musicians is the possibility to work with a certain teacher from anywhere in the world. In the «Facebook Violinists» group I’ve even seen plenty of online teaching offers at the school age, especially in the US. We are slightly behind here.
An advantage for me was that I had to express myself very clearly and precisely so that students would quickly understand my instructions. At times, students would focus better than with the classroom experience.

The current pandemic left teachers with no option but to teach online. How did you experience this switch?
It was a seamless switch for me, and even the entire team was quick to switch from Friday to Monday!

How did the students and parents take this radical change?
My students and parents embraced the change. The parents joined the lesson, especially with the younger kids, helping out. Everyone was actively involved.

What is your personal takeaway?
I believe it takes a lot of willpower and initiative to make the same progress week by week, as in the classroom.

Would you include the positives of online teaching in future traditional teaching? How?
In my opinion, remote learning should be offered to students who are temporarily busy at school. This may serve as a relief for busy parents who have little time to bring students to school and back home.
For my part, I will try to maintain my clear and precise instructions in the classroom. More than anything, though, I am looking forward to the fun of classroom teaching!
 Kristofer Ganer Skaug (Facebook) wrote on 17.10.2020 at 19:30
Hmmm. Yes, there are certainly good aspects to it, but I’ve now observed it extensively from the point of view of my daughters and there are at least two main issues:
1. Teacher cannot see student in 3D so it is more difficult to spot posture issues, creeping bowing deficiencies etc.
2. Sound transmission is often very poor which leads to student “misreading” teacher’s examples or vice versa.
Conclusion is that online lessons are certainly much better than no lesson at all, but if used as supplement to live lessons, both teacher and student must be conscious of the limitations, so the focus of the lesson narrows down to those things that can productively be discussed / demonstrated via Skype.
 Steve Robshaw (Facebook) wrote on 17.10.2020 at 19:31
And the essential human contact etc is missing..... how ever much you like it...

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