I hope you are well!
I have spent much time today consulting with people who are knowledgeable about the rapidly unfolding events in our world regarding COVID-19. I've also spoken with others who are planning how to proceed safely with daily activities. And lastly, I checked in with parents of several students for their opinions.
Fortunately, our number of diagnosed cases here is low. I feel a personal responsibility to do what I can to help keep numbers low.
I am not panicking. I believe in smart preparation and in staying informed.
I hold lessons Monday-Saturday. Many people come through the door on any given day. I calculate that if any single person is unknowingly carrying the virus, over 50 families could be exposed to it because of music lessons here...we share a piano keyboard, music stand, picks, the bathroom, percussion, guitars, and personal space of a few inches or feet at the most.
This may sound excessive right now; however, those more knowledgeable than I am have told me that in a week or two, we will see that this matters, and taking action sooner rather than later would have been wise.
So I have made a difficult decision: To try to help slow down the spread of this virus and for the safety of your families, I am temporarily switching to online lessons.
I will do everything I can to facilitate a smooth transition. If you don't know how they work, I will take the time to show you. It's actually quite easy, especially after you've done it once.
I've switched to online lessons with some people already, and with the exception of one Google Hangouts glitch, it's gone very well. Children are very comfortable working this way. I almost don't want to say this, but some kids actually seem to prefer it. But it's temporary! ;) We've composed, learned songs, started musical scores to skits they've written, and more--just in a few days!
Some of you may need a different time to do lessons if you need to set up a tablet, laptop, etc. for your child. For example, if Grandma or a sitter usually brings your child to lessons while you are at work and they wouldn't know how to open Facetime, Skype, etc., we'll find a time when you are around or when someone can help them log on.
If schools close, and they probably will eventually, you are more than welcome to schedule lessons during the daytime (morning, afternoon, as well as evening).
I will be texting or calling each one of you to ask these questions:
- Does your regular lesson time work for online lessons? If not, we'll find another time.
- Have you done video chat before? If so, what do you prefer to use--Facetime, Google Hangouts, Messenger, Skype, etc.?
- If you have not used video chat, could we set up a time to talk by phone so I can assist you if needed?
To help you visualize how it works, students use one of these methods for the lesson:
- The student uses one device to video chat and another device during the lesson to access the material that I put on his/her webpage. (Example: talking to me on one device and looking at the music on another device.)
- The student uses one device to video chat and you print the material for the lesson ahead of time. (Ex: talking to me on the device and reading/playing pre-printed music/materials)
- The student uses one device to video chat and uses a book. Or more materials can be accessed after the lesson on the student's web page.
It would work better, I think, if at our lesson time I "call" you via video chat (vs. you calling me). Lessons will probably wrap up after about 28 minutes so I can be sure to log on with the next person in time. I will get your contact info for video chats ASAP.
If schools close, I will be doing lots of community-based (virtual) events--live concerts for kids, group meetings with story time/story creating/song sharing, etc. Those will be open to all students, and some will be open to the public. I'll let you know.
Please feel free to call or text with questions, and I will be contacting you individually very soon.