Teachers: private music lessons, social distancing, precautions, logistics

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Tim Bowen, Mar 14, 2020.

  1. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    I'm seeing some threads and posts here and elsewhere about working musicians, cancelled shows, lost wages, financial help and options, precautions, and such due to the nasty virus. My heart goes out to all who are dealing with adverse realities and challenges during this extremely difficult time.

    I had to retire from live performance recently due to excessive nerve damage and other physical issues, and my finances have taken quite a hit from that, but I am still teaching music one day per week, and really need to retain what income from such that I possibly can. I haven't seen much online specifically about teaching situations and logistics; I haven't been around here as much lately - if there are threads here that I've overlooked, I'll be happy to participate in any that might be pointed out.

    For obvious reasons, I don't feel it best for my own livelihood, nor that of the school I teach for, to wallow around in the muck of public opinion at my personal social media page on this subject, so I thought it might be more practical, useful, and smart to inquire and discuss here.

    When I taught last Monday, the proverbial crap hadn't quite hit the fan just yet, but a degree of local chaos has ensued since. For the record, although hopefully to dissuade tangents hopelessly going sideways as to such, I personally have very much erred on the side of caution socially for the last four days, but have not participated in panic fests.

    I've had ongoing conversations with the owner of the music school, who is also a teacher there, over the past several days. He says that we've had some (hopefully temporary) cancellations and suspensions of lessons, and that it's gonna be a tough month, but that we are definitely up and running.

    In hopes of hopefully heading off the likelihood of going down a particular rabbit hole here - while I am not totally uninterested or averse to near-future prospects of some sort of online lessons that circumvent the need for personal interaction in a physical space, that is not at all what I am inquiring about here, at least for the short term - I am hoping that any discussion here will be limited to considerations within a brick & mortar, in-person lesson environment.

    So I am due to go back in on Monday, and that's where insight and opinions and experience from you folks would be welcomed and appreciated. I don't quite know what to expect regarding attendance just yet. Before things took a sharp downward turn over the past several days, I had about six and a half solid hours of teaching on the books with no breaks; surely that won't be the case on Monday.

    I don't know the actual dimensions of my teaching studio, off the top of my head; as teaching studios typically go, I'd say it leans toward the larger side, but is certainly not a large room. What sort of distance between myself and students? It would be logistically difficult to be, say, six feet away, and turn pages in their books and such, not to mention myself actually being able to see the music well enough with my ailing eyesight, although I would certainly have enough room within the physical space to create some distance if required.

    I have students from about age eight to folks in their 70s, and parents sometimes sit in on our lessons as well.

    All the teachers (many different instruments) close their studio doors for lessons, but, while I certainly wouldn't welcome the inevitable cacaphony, would it be better for the time being to operate with open doors as opposed to within completely enclosed spaces? (I've never put much thought into our ventilation, couldn't say much about it off the top of my head.)

    I always keep a big bottle of hand sanitizer in the room; should I have students (and myself) use sanitizer at the beginning and end of their lessons? Frequently wipe down chairs and what other surfaces with disinfectant? How about handling their books and instruments? I tune instruments for quite a few of the newbies. Should I just let them fend for themselves with tuning for now? Thin gloves on the hands for myself?

    Obviously anyone with any signs of illness is out, myself included of course. What else? Other precautions and stipulations and logistical considerations that I should pass along to students and parents, or think about for myself? Lest someone think I'm overthinking this (common gripe on social media currently, regarding the general subject, unfortunately, which I think is sheer lunacy), I am merely trying my very best to cover all bases and ensure protecting the health, well being, and confidence of both my clients and myself.

    Thanks in advance for reading, and especially for any participation in this thread. Your thoughts will be very much appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2020
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  2. Steve Hotra

    Steve Hotra Silver Supporting Member

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    Hey Tim
    I am 63 years young and teach full time. Students as young as six to as old as 71. I teach private lessons at a few locations.
    I teach at a dance / music studio here in WA.
    We are staying open, because students will be out of school for six weeks. My lessons are one on one, and in a decent size room.
    I will probably stay back around 5 to 6 feet from my students, if possible. I am in good health. But I think I caught a cold from one of my kids in Jan. But I got over it within 5 days, and was able to sing again.
    I would practice what the health officials say: wash your hands, tell your students to cancel their lessons if they are running a fever. I teach around 36 students a month ( mostly kids and teenagers)
    And I do a few in home lessons, too.
    I would not use gloves when teaching.
    Have tissues handy.
    Lessons and playing at churches is my sole income ( church services are canceled here in WA, too)
    Last thought.. try to keep a positive attitude throughout all of this.
     
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  3. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    Good stuff. Thanks, Steve, for the sage advice. Best wishes for your health and for your work.
     
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  4. Steve Hotra

    Steve Hotra Silver Supporting Member

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    You as well! Hang in there!!
     
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  5. Scary Uncle G.

    Scary Uncle G. Member

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    Seeing as I have a violin lesson on Monday, I’m concerned about this as well.

    Technically there’s been no confirmed cases of you know what here, but OTOH you can’t get tested here unless you’ve been out of country so there’s no way to know.
     
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  6. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    I’m mandated by three universities to teach online going forward . I’ve done a lot of private teaching like this in the past few years so it won’t be too weird, though not my preference.
    I’m not sure how doing it for 6-8 hours at a stretch will be. I picked a bad day to quit drinking!
     
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  7. jb70

    jb70 Supporting Member

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    Every expert that I've heard has said to keep a distance of 6' or more from other people. I also give in-home lessons but will be taking this week off from teaching (I was supposed to have a studio session in CT all week but it was canceled due to the virus). I've already had one parent ask about teaching via Skype/Facetime but I've never pursued it due to the fact that you can't play together at the same time. I accompany all of my younger students as well as actually play with my more advanced jazz-oriented students. Like you, I'm still trying to figure out how to go about teaching online.
     
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  8. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    That does seem to be the accepted standard du jour, for the time being. Issue on my part is reading charts & notation with my compromised eyesight, but I'll get past that. Students (if anybody actually shows up) will need to turn pages in their books and notebooks for themselves, I suppose. I am leaning toward not handling and tuning the instruments of others at this point. What an odd and challenging time to be alive.
     
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  9. dlguitar64

    dlguitar64 Member

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    We are offering Google Hangout lessons at the place I teach and 2 people are going to do that tomorrow, which should be interesting!
     
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  10. sixty2strat

    sixty2strat Member

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    Know a guy who teaches guitar at local Ivy league school got let go.
     
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  11. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    My first two actually showed up today but decided against a lesson before even coming into the studio. Can't say I blame them, they are both in their 70s and the banjo guy has COPD. No sense in screwing around with this noize.

    Our school is getting cancellations right and left. Buckling up for a rough stretch. Y'all be safe and stay vigilant.
     
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  12. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    It seems like insisting on only in-person lessons is just shooting yourself in the foot. You likely have a slow week ahead of you, and it would be a good time to get up the learning curve on various online options.

    I'd tell the music studio owner that you only want your normal cut of the lessons and you aren't looking to steal the students from the studio. In exchange, he should consider adding whatever infrastructure you need to teach remotely.

    Here in Tennessee our governor just ordered schools to stay closed until April 13. Parents are going to be looking for any and all options to keep their kids on track in school and with extracurricular stuff. With sports off the table you may actually have an opportunity to add MORE students during this time. Many of your students may prefer the online lessons and you could ease the burden on parents who have to bring their kids to the studio.

    If you only want to teach in person, you might need to find a way to teach outdoors. If there's a park or pavilion nearby that offers a large space, you could move your lessons around through your teaching day to minimize the transmittal of bugs.
     
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  13. Steve Hotra

    Steve Hotra Silver Supporting Member

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    I am teaching FaceTime / Skype at the school where I teach at.
    One Skype lesson tonight.
     
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  14. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    Thanks for the post, and I appreciate what you've said. Not an insistence. I worded it the way I did when I typed the thread because I wanted to get some input and discussion on the physical space aspect of it. If I'd not worded it that way, no discussion of that side of it would / would've happen(ed), because I understand the internet and discourse.
     

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