Toward the end of last year some friends of mine who live in Germany contacted me to see if I would consider teaching their daughter piano via the Internet. Since I had a little bit of experience doing this with one of my students last fall, I decided it would be fun to go the next step and take on a full-time student this way. It has been a ton of fun so far! We’ve only had a couple of lessons, but it is working out marvelously!
As you can see, the video quality is great. Current bandwidth limitations still require pretty substantial compression of the audio, but I’m hopeful that that will improve as the technology continues to advance. The set up allows me to deal with technique issues (I could quickly see that the bench was too close in the shot above and had her move it back), fingering, accurate notes, rhythms, etc. – pretty much everything as if my student was sitting a few feet from me in the room.
In addition to what takes place at the lesson, it’s easy for me to e-mail supplementary resources and materials that she can print and use for various assignments. Thankfully, the practice incentive theme that I put together for this year has a ton of printable resources already organized so that I can quickly navigate to them and send them her way!
As you can see, it doesn’t take much to conduct virtual piano lessons. All I have is a TV tray, topped with a box and my laptop. My student and I both have Skype (a free online communication software) on our computers and a built-in webcam. If you don’t have a built-in webcam, you can pick one up at any computer supply store and it should work fine. And that’s seriously it! Imagine the many incredible possibilities that lie in the future with these capabilities! So, if you have the opportunity, I encourage you to just jump in and give it a try. You’ll be glad you did. 🙂