Most people who get in touch about online lessons have questions and worries, so I’ve compiled the most common FAQs here to help put you more at ease!
“Technology isn’t my thing”
This is quite a common one so if this is you, don’t worry as you’re not alone! Please don’t let it put you off having tuition with me. Follow this guide which will walk you through downloading Skype onto your device (desktop PC, notebook, tablet or mobile) setting up a Skype account with your email address and connecting a video call in Skype. If you have major concerns, you can always ask a friend or relative to help you or contact me to talk you through it.
“How does Skype tuition work?”
A clear and incident free Skype call relies on setting up and checking a few things before we connect a video call:
- Skype relies on a fast and stable internet connection. Make sure your connection speed isn’t being hindered by uploads/downloads/streaming TV whilst the lesson is in progress.
- Being wired into your router with an ethernet cable will be quicker and more stable than wireless.
- Make sure you set up the camera angle so that your whole instrument including left and right hands (with bellows open) can be seen on screen. Ideally your face too – but not to worry if you can’t get everything in! I usually start the lesson with the camera on my face and then angle it down when we come to work on a tune.
- Find a light, comfortable place in your home where you can sit or stand for Skype lessons.
- Devices such as notebooks and tablets allow you to be flexible about where you are in your home and many have built in webcams and microphones. But be aware about the changes in the strength of your wireless signal as you move around the house.
“What happens if Skype doesn’t work?”
It’s rare but occasionally Skype doesn’t play ball. But this doesn’t stop play and there are lots of things to try:
- Most of the time the old off and on again move solves the issue – just log out and back in again, or try turning your router off for 10s and on again.
- Although Skype usually updates automatically sometimes this needs to be installed manually from www.skype.com.
- Sometimes uninstalling Skype an reinstalling it again sorts out the bugs.
- If none of these work then I use video messaging in Facebook Messenger as a back up. At all stages, I help you through this. If technology isn’t your thing – don’t worry! If you’re in the UK I’ll give you a call on the phone and I’ll talk you through these procedures.
- Worst case scenario? If over half the lesson has passed and we haven’t managed to connect a call, we’ll reschedule the lesson at no charge.
“Is there a time delay?”
Yes a very small one. I learnt quite quickly that by playing a short introduction I could overcome the delay effect. At the student’s end, they would hear the introduction and come in with me at the right place in real time. At my end, I can hear the student playing a few milliseconds behind me and as long as that time gap stays consistent, I know they’re following ‘in time’ with me at their end. I also watch their fingers and body language in the video screen so I can easily see if they’re struggling and need to stop. I am able to hold my rhythm strong against the short timing delay – I’ve learned to overcome it!
“How much do you charge for lessons?”
Check out the pricing page for my current rates.
“My memory isn’t up to much!”
You’d be surprised by the amount of emails I get from prospective students where a line like this crops up! All I say is “don’t worry!” I teach at your pace. We don’t have any exams to pass! We have no reason to rush. The process should be just as enjoyable as the final outcome. Over the years, I’ve developed many tips and tricks for helping students to build better brain and muscle memory. It does take time, and a lot of patience, but if you’re on board with that, I’m 100% on board with that!
“I can’t read sheet music!”
Never fear! I use many methods in my teaching. Playing by ear, by feel, by sound, by touch are my preferred methods. I do sometimes use sheet music for students who show an interest in learning basic music theory, but it certainly doesn’t feature heavily in my teaching – and certainly if you don’t want it to! I am not of the opinion that you need to be able to read sheet music to become a proficient musician.
“I can’t play by ear!”
This is a common one, and one that brings with it a lot of anxiety. What I say is this: I haven’t yet taught a student who hasn’t been able to learn something by ear. My methods are tried, tested and proven to work (and I love being able to say that based on fact!) Through encouraging better listening and observation skills, breaking tunes down into small bite-sized pieces of information that make them more easily absorbed, playing call and response games, guiding students to become more mindful about their bodies whilst they’re playing encourages better physical and mental memory building. Try my methods and see if they work for you. I can guarantee that they will!