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46. Interlude: On Again, Off Again

Updated: Oct 25, 2020

(Or How I Learned to Avoid Zoom Fatigue)


In these difficult times for the arts and education, I have been known to raise a few eyebrows by my reluctance to embrace online piano lessons. Here's my reasoning on that subject:


Although online teaching is becoming increasingly common, for me it will never replace lessons based on a dynamic relationship involving personal interaction between a teacher and student.  The totality of nuances that are observable in a student's facial expression, body language, verbal expression, and technique can never be completely captured or appreciated via a two dimensional flat screen image generated by a static camera angle. A piano teacher's efforts needs to be fluid with the ability to attend to the student's hands, wrist and arms, posture, facial expression, level of attentiveness and of course the keyboard, pedal, sound and music on the page. Others may disagree, but I believe that the unintended consequences of online piano lessons will include an erosion of the quality of the teaching and learning experience and related outcomes.  The compromises made in adopting online piano lessons will be to the detriment of the student's development and long term commitment to playing the piano, especially when piano lessons become just another online activity after the novelty has worn off. I haven't even mentioned the inability of a student and teacher to play together due to streaming rate inconsistencies and buffering, but one other point worth mentioning is that one of the teacher's main responsibilities is to create an inviting and engaging learning environment. However when the student and teacher are in two different physical environments, this becomes impossible to achieve in any meaningful way. The bottom line for me is that online teaching allows too many details to fall through the cracks.  I know I am bucking the trend, but it's a slippery slope that I'd rather not find myself on.



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