Practice makes perfect as Zoom piano lessons resume

SINGAPORE – Last year’s circuit breaker was the first time in 12 years of teaching piano that Ms Valerie Chan had to teach by video link.

“It was stressful and difficult as it was a totally new thing. There were problems like installing and logging into Zoom, and where the camera should face so I could see them playing during the lesson,” said Ms Chan, 33.

She was relieved when physical classes could finally resume in June last year, but the reprieve was unfortunately short-lived. Most of her classes are back online under the latest Covid-19 restrictions, which suspend all in-person tuition and enrichment lessons for students aged 18 and below.

In her online classes, Ms Chan sees and hears her students play the piano on her iPad. She corrects their mistakes, such as playing the wrong notes, by demonstrating the correct playing through Zoom.

But sometimes, the sound is distorted, cut off or unclear.

“Once, the student’s device ran out of battery and he continued playing, but the video was already cut off,” she added.

At times, her three-year-old son also clamours for her attention, disrupting the class.

This time around, three of her students have requested to stop lessons as they prefer face-to-face classes, and she expects her income to drop by about 30 per cent.

Though disappointed, Ms Chan is still looking on the bright side.

She said: “The impact on finances is not as severe as most students choose to continue with Zoom classes. Teaching online is also easier now as most parents and students are familiar with Zoom.”

She is also glad students can still learn and make progress through online classes, even if the pace may be slower than with in-person learning.

She added: “I understand that it is necessary for now and it may be a short-term thing. I will continue to do my best to deliver the lessons even though they are online. Hopefully, face-to-face lessons can be resumed soon.”

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