This fall Swallow Hill Music is offering over 70 online group classes, as well as private lessons and workshops. We never offered online classes before this summer, and this rapid transition reflects the resilience, innovative spirit, and determination of our instructors.
“The value of empowering students to play on their own is enhanced,” Virginia says off the bat. “The experience of your own individual progress can be as strong or even stronger through online instruction.”
Swallow Hill Music closed its doors to the public in March due to COVID-19. Instructors teach their courses via Zoom, either from their homes, or in safely maintained learning labs in Swallow Hill classrooms. Virginia started learning the ins and outs of online teaching from not only a technology standpoint, but learned to alter how she communicates with her students as well.
“I can’t reach out and show a student something or make a hands on-correction,” she explains. “I have to be able to demonstrate things clearly for them through the screen. Once we are both adapted to communicating through the screen, it is relatively as easy to demonstrate things for them online as it is in person.”
She is encouraged by the early results.
For the moment Virginia teaches only private lessons, saying “It’s just easier for me to limit the interaction to one-on-one for now.”
Online classes were also new to Instructor Casey Hrdlicka, and like Virginia, he dove right in.
“The transition was new territory for me,” Casey says. “I quickly found out I had to further invest in equipment for online teaching to work.” Though he worked on his own from home, Casey never felt alone as “the support and advice from Swallow Hill teachers and staff proved to be invaluable.”
Casey now teaches group classes and workshops, and is available to teach private lessons as well.
When asked the benefits of online music classes, Casey cites the up close camera angles he can employ that might be awkward in person. He can share PDFs of any “whiteboard” discussions that happen during the class.
And if a student can’t make the class, it can be recorded and viewed later.
Some things, whether online or in-person, remain the same. “General organization, developed curriculum, and weekly lesson plans,” Casey says, “are all essential to a successful class.”
With all of this in mind, why should those reluctant to take virtual music classes try online courses from Swallow Hill Music?
“Swallow Hill’s tried-and-tested curriculum works well with the online format because mostly everything is ready to go as PDFs,” Casey says, before adding “They can take these classes from anywhere in the world.”
To that, Virginia adds, “It is the one safe way of continuing music education until we are well past the risk.”