Revamping curricula to serve students during the pandemic has created enormous challenges for schools and other educational institutions. There is an opportunity within every challenge, however; and community music schools like Indian Hill Music are now using online music education to reach a wider range of students of all ages, to create connections for families, active seniors, and other homebound individuals, and to offer learning solutions to elementary through high school band, orchestra, and chorus students as they study remotely.
Since pivoting to online learning during the spring lockdown, the Littleton-based center for education and performance has been rolling out new ways for students of all ages to stay connected to learning music. Public school students in particular have been seeking out private lessons to supplement public school offerings so that they can continue to develop skills that they had worked on in school before the pandemic.
“For safety reasons, most public school band, orchestra, and chorus students are not able to participate in the same level of at-school instruction and coaching that they may have received pre-pandemic,” said Pete Robbins, Indian Hill Music Director of Education and Non-Classical Performance Programming. “Our faculty are adept at making online lessons effective and engaging for all skill levels, offering individualized attention with an emphasis on maintaining and building students’ reading and playing skills so that when in-person school ensembles or district auditions resume again, these students will be well prepared to play.”
Indian Hill’s experienced faculty of 70+ teaching artists give individualized attention to each student’s needs, goals, abilities, and learning styles. Increasingly, students have described their weekly online lessons as “a bright spot” in their week, creating a sense of normalcy during the past several months, with teachers providing personal motivation and support along with music instruction. “As a senior citizen in lock-down mode I am grateful for the weekly package of smiles, laughter and learning delivered by my piano teacher,” said adult student Michael M.
Indian Hill’s online classes have also been a salve for the isolation of lock-down, offering lively social outlets for all ages to learn, laugh, and make music together. On September 19, the music school offered a “Virtual Free Class Day” to the public, offering free online classes for all ages — from babies and their caregivers in early childhood singalong classes, to beginner students playing their first tentative notes with a group of young peers, to adults of all ages mingling in jazz discussion groups, ukulele jams, and more. Over 100 people signed up to experience what it is like to take a class online, and to explore the range of online class offerings and lessons available this fall.
“At first, some of our community members were unsure about the quality of the online learning experience. They quickly realized that it was a great way to connect with our teachers and to start or continue music-making in their lives,” said Class and Ensemble Manager Michael Havay, who spearheaded the daylong online event. “Our teachers met the challenge head on and developed the skills and strategies they needed to provide the same high-quality music education online as in person. Our Virtual Free Class Day confirmed this, and because of their first-hand experience the response from the community has been very enthusiastic.”
Registration is now open for online classes, which begin on various dates in October. Private lesson registration is ongoing, with an introductory four-lesson package available for new students.