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Music teachers finding new ways to hold private lessons

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 6:25 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Many students who play musical instruments take private lessons to keep up their abilities, but the pandemic has forced teachers to find new ways to offer those lessons.

Ryan Hoagland performs with different groups in the area including the orchestra at Theater Cedar Rapids. He also works with several schools in the Cedar Rapids metro area to offer private lessons, mainly for percussion instruments. Typically, he meets with students for face-to-face lessons, but he’s had to turn to a virtual method.

“Most of my students do their lessons streaming from their cellphones, using Facetime or Zoom,” Hoagland said. “I said, ‘when we do in-person lessons, I’m right next to you. When we’re looking through the screen, let’s just pretend it’s the same thing, even though I’m in cyberspace on the other side of the computer screen.”

Hoagland said several parents and students thanked him for finding different ways to offer lessons.

“What they told me is like, the social interaction, coming from a normal teacher is nice because so many of them were stuck at home for a while,” Hoagland said.

Hoagland also gives lessons to drumlines at a few high schools in the area. He found a way to virtually instruct them--about 20 to 25 kids--at the same time.

“What I ended up doing is hooking my laptop to my 42-inch flat-screen...that way all the little boxes look bigger,” Hoagland said. “I treat it like a workout video you’re watching on a DVD. We’ve all sort of learned how stressful and crazy it is and then how to sort of adapt and make it work so it’s pleasant...you know, if you put the right attitude towards it, then it can be done efficiently and effectively.”

While the lessons help students improve their skills, there’s also a social aspect that’s crucial, especially during the pandemic.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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