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My New Normal: Teaching Violin Virtually from Quarantine

A woman teaches violin through a video session.


Susanna Sonnenberg is a personal studio music instructor who teaches violin, viola and cello classes from her house in Pittsburgh. She now teaches her college students by video classes since a stay-at-home order was issued April 1. Photo courtesy of Susanna Sonnenberg

Susanna Sonnenberg is a personal studio music instructor who teaches violin, viola and cello classes from her house in Pittsburgh, which has been beneath a stay-at-home order since April 1. She teaches college students from 5 to 70 years outdated from everywhere in the world. Here’s what her life seems to be like now, as advised to contributor Dana Sitar.

I’m one in all a lucky few who’ve gained enterprise because of stay-at-home orders. Kids who can’t play with native orchestras or take music classes in school, and adults who’re at house with additional free time all discover me.

I’ve been working my very own music studio educating violin, viola and cello classes since October of 2015 after 15 years of public faculty educating and administration. I’ve had some on-line college students since I opened my studio, so I used to be outfitted to maintain working my enterprise throughout this disaster — and even develop.

Before the pandemic, I had 58 college students. Now I’ve about 70.

I dwell with my husband, 16-year-old daughter and 5 cats. We’re all house now.

My husband is a realtor, so he’s self-employed, too, however usually works exterior our house. Now his work is on pause, and he’s utilized for unemployment since self-employed employees turned eligible.

Thankfully, we’re ready to save cash and maintain paying our payments with none issues. Before this all occurred, we had based mostly our price range off my earnings. We’ve each discovered ourselves unexpectedly jobless previously, so we’ve based mostly our funds off of a single earnings and thought of the second earnings supplementary for concerning the previous 5 years.

Now we don’t have my husband’s common earnings for discretionary issues like consuming out, however my earnings covers our wants, and I’m even making slightly additional from having extra college students.

About 60% of my college students had been taking classes on-line earlier than we started staying at house, and I transitioned all however two of the remainder of them on-line two days earlier than Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order went into impact. Most of my college students had been with me fairly long run, so transitioning to all on-line classes went easily.

I misplaced only one pupil to monetary issues, and one older pupil who paused classes to follow social distancing early on and wasn’t open to on-line classes. Otherwise, everybody has been completely satisfied to proceed. Quite a lot of my college students have been grateful to maintain not less than one factor of their life regular as so many different issues are altering and unsure.

Pro Tip

If you run a enterprise, don’t assume your purchasers or prospects are all on a spending freeze. Your service might be the one factor they proceed or splurge on throughout the pandemic.

I educate about half of my classes by the online-learning platform TakeLessons and the opposite half by Skype, FaceTime or Zoom — regardless of the college students favor.

I used to be shocked at how simply my in-person college students tailored to on-line classes. They didn’t want a lot to get began, only a laptop computer or pill with a webcam and web entry. One pupil even advised me on-line classes have helped her develop into a extra assured participant, as a result of she will be able to’t rely on my taking part in alongside together with her.

That’s often one downside of on-line classes: The lag in video chat retains you from with the ability to play collectively simply.

A woman plays the violin.
Sonnenberg teaches about half of her classes by TakeLessons and the opposite half by Skype, FaceTime or Zoom. Photo courtesy of Susanna Sonnenberg

I’ve talked with different academics who’re dissatisfied they’ll’t play with their college students or embrace duets of their classes. I’ve been in a position to share some work-arounds I’ve discovered over time: Record your self taking part in to share with the coed, or play just about with the coed muted to allow them to hear you and play alongside.

The different huge concern from different academics is lighting. We and our college students have to have the ability to see one another clearly, so we will exhibit strategies and provide them steerage on theirs. I maintain two ground lamps pointing at me from the entrance, and I can regulate brightness and shade by my webcam to maintain issues clear.

It was already regular for me to show seven days per week, however I’ve expanded my hours slightly as I’ve picked up extra college students. I educate wherever from six to 14 30- to 60-minute classes per day between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. Still, everybody in my household is getting extra sleep than we used to. 

Pro Tip

Pay consideration to the adjustments in behavior or routine you’re having fun with, and decide to persevering with these after stay-at-home orders are lifted.

To get monetary savings — and since he has extra time — my husband often cooks dinner at house, and we simply get takeout as a deal with as soon as on the weekend. That’s rather a lot lower than we used to eat out, so it’s been good to eat more healthy.

In a number of methods, it’s good that we’re all at house, as a result of we get to spend extra time collectively. Anytime I’m not educating, I’m free to spend time with my household.

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