As the UK nears the end of its 5th week in lockdown many people are becoming concerned about how long “all this” (as most people I know are colloquially referring to the pandemic disruption) will last and what will unfold once these initial measures start to be eased. As a music teacher I am obviously concerned for my students’ well-being as well as their musical development and it is clear that it is not possible to have music lessons face-to-face right now, and won’t be for some time to come. I can’t stand 2 metres away from my piano students unless I were to stand in the living room and shout instructions through the doorway, which would be amusing but a bit disruptive for the rest of my household. The various forms of video chat software available (Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp and so on) allow live feedback and also have facilities to send files so I can look at theory work and compositions, or receive audio or video messages from students to help them with a particular problem if they’re not able to have full lessons online. It’s a bit like going back to the late 1990s and early 2000s when we relied on AIM and MSN Messenger and whatever Yahoo’s thing was called for socialising at a distance, only the idea of streaming video online with a dial-up modem was laughable and there was no recording facility on a Nokia 3210.

I also have students preparing for exams who are somewhat adrift at the moment. ABRSM have cancelled all exams until at least 1st July, Trinity are offering a temporary digital alternative assessment, and LCM have expanded their online offerings to both pre-recorded and live instrumental exams from May. I find it disappointing that ABRSM have decided not to explore any alternative options, perhaps they may reconsider this at some point depending how long “all this” goes on.

In the meantime I have been working on new resources for my website, including a forthcoming introduction to composition techniques for students who may be looking to expand their own musical output. All pieces, exercises and worksheets posted on this site are available for anyone to download for free and I hope they will be of use to both my own students and those elsewhere.

Nobody can say how long “all this” will last, and I will be offering face-to-face lessons again once it is safe to do so. In the meantime we should all keep making music in any way we enjoy, each bringing a little light into what often feels like very dark times. The world will keep turning and we’ll muddle through as best we can.

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