Q: How have you connected with students during remote classes?
A: I’m using multiple platforms. For my classes, I posted video tutorials on Blackboard, and students submitted performance videos, homework, and exams.
For lessons, we meet using WhatsApp, which works on various devices with decent video and sound quality. I supplement those lessons with Flipgrid, a video discussion platform, where students can post videos of scales, etudes, and more, and I can provide them video and/or written feedback quickly.
Occasionally I met with my lecture-style class to do PowerPoint slides in real time on Google Hangouts, but I made those meetings optional to allow maximum flexibility for my students who were sharing space, technology, and bandwidth with their families.
Q: What does your home office look like?
A: I had to create one for the stay-at-home order. I added a sofa table to a wall in the living room. I usually spend most of my day standing to teach, so I improvised a standing desk by using a stereo speaker and music stand in the living room.
Q: Performance-based programs have been scrutinized for the challenge in transitioning to remote-delivery formats. How have you surmounted the challenge of no face-to-face time with students?
A: I think the combination of real-time video lessons and supplemental platform of Flipgrid (for posting additional videos) has been most helpful. I’ve always told my students that the best way to improve quickly on the instrument is to record yourself, but it isn’t something they often do because it is a potentially frustrating process and humbling to do self-evaluation. By submitting videos weekly, though, I think they are letting go of the idea that their videos need to be perfect, and embracing the recording process as an exercise-in-learning that leads to rapid improvement. I’m hopeful this will carry over into their non-quarantine lives is that they can continue to improve exponentially moving forward!
Some of my students did their final singing quiz (a Bach chorale) in collaboration with one another. They normally would perform this live in class with three other classmates, so instead they used Acapella (or similar apps) to record it in pairs, quartets, or to sing all four parts themselves. It was a fun, collaborative solution.