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The online learning environment as it relates to playing violin

It is Thursday, July 23rd, 2020. I did not have expectations of this particular period of time, but now that we have arrived I notice many things that I am adapting to - physically, mentally, and emotionally:

First, I am adapting to cultivate a smaller circle of people I see that support me - family, loved ones, and close friends, that are a small but mighty group to make me feel strong. I am an introvert, yet in non-pandemic times my circle is much bigger, to include so many people dear to me in the larger community of musicians and teachers.

Second, I am learning that even though I have hesitated to do online trainings and projects often in the past because I prefer being in person, the enrichment available out there from communities far and wide is incredible and inspiring. I have added to my yoga practice, my professional development as a violin teacher, and watched many musicians stream concerts that have had an incredibly positive effect on my head space and levels of inspiration and motivation.

Third, I am coming to a point of excitement about technology when it relates to teaching online. I can show my students close-ups of my fingers and bow that look dramatic over a camera. I can share my screen to watch and listen to performers on youtube with my students, make notes in their music, and each day I am learning more about sound quality and real-time audio options. An external microphone is a huge first step into creating sound we are used to hearing, and audio settings in Zoom are changed to make all of the real sound from the violin come through. I am also beginning to experiment with Cleanfeed, and also hope that JackTrip becomes more widely available soon to allow us to improvise in real time once again. If you know about more technology like this, or have a question, let me know!

I am also adjusting the way I listen. Because of internet lag time, I have become quite sharp at looking at a student's bow and knowing exactly what type of sound is really happening, even though the sound follows about one second later sometimes. I have been teaching breathing, and performing to the idea of an audience that "hears with their eyes." You know this is part of your experience of watching a performer when you are captivated by their movement, posture, facial expressions, and overall presence.

I am greatly inspired by the time my students have put into practice over the past few months, and look forward to seeing their progress, and a window into their homes each time we sign on for lessons. Routine is important for us to feel calm and ready to learn, and I am grateful for the amazing connection of teaching online.

My takeaway is that we are incredibly adaptable. Our bodies adapt to how we move them, how we don't move them. Our ears adapt to the level of noise in our environment over time. And we can intentionally adapt to creating a successful learning environment online in this new and challenging place. If you have any questions about starting to learn an instrument online, technology, or more, reach out. In the meantime, here are some resources for experiencing concerts online:

Kronos Quartet

Yo Yo Ma

Dan Tepfer (Jazz - using JackTrip)

Dazzle Denver Livestreams (Jazz)

Colorado Symphony

Tiny Desk at Home

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