“The enthusiasm of my students remains”

A piano teacher keeps her music school running on her iPad.

June 25, 2020 | | Pandemic Journals

Grand Valley’s Karla Leger teaches her piano students via video chats.

Grand Valley’s Karla Leger teaches her piano students via video chats.

I achieved my dream of opening my own music school in 2013 in the beautiful Inglewood United Church in Caledon. I can’t put into words how fortunate and grateful I am that I can continue teaching my Inglewood School of Music students online from my home in Grand Valley during this crisis.

What I do is very organic and low tech. All I have ever needed to teach was a piano, books, the ability to print sheet music, my hands and my heart. The first step I took was to upgrade my PowerBook G4 (circa 2000) to a seventh generation iPad. As soon as my iPad arrived on April 6, online lessons began. I was teaching 40 students per week at the church and currently 22 are continuing their musical education online.

At the church, my students and their families, the Inglewood community and the church board members created an environment where musical comprehension, development and creativity thrive. The children come in smiling and leave smiling. So it was no surprise to me that when this pandemic hit, we all came together as a team to keep our weekly lessons rolling in the same spirit.

Although scheduling and teaching online has its challenges and I deeply miss the ambiance and acoustics of the church, the enthusiasm of my students remains. It feels wonderful to share an activity that gives them something to focus on and offers them great gains academically and emotionally. It also fills their time with something positive – music. All of this, plus seeing my students’ smiles and enthusiastic waves when we connect online, keeps me motivated to continue.

One challenge has been guiding and helping students with rhythm as they play through or sing through a piece. Many of my students are in the country, and with delays and lag times online, it’s often not possible to count along or play along with them in real time. What’s helped here is recording pieces for students to practise with. I send links from YouTube and access codes to listen through the Royal Conservatory of Music’s website. I also record myself playing and send those files as well.

Together with my students’ parents, we have managed to overcome any challenge we have faced so far. We are continuing to work together in supporting and encouraging these kids to play on and keep trying, no matter what.

About the Author More by Karla Leger

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