I have been teaching classical trombone and jazz improv lessons since getting my music degree in 1996. When the coronavirus Covid19 hit and large gatherings were discouraged and I couldn’t gig, I lost about a third of my income. When a Bay Area shelter in place directive seemed imminent, my first thought was, “Oh my goodness, there goes the other two thirds.”

All of my friends who taught out of their homes (I teach at a store called Music To My Ears) immediately offered their students lessons via FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype. Technologically challenged, I froze. I had only used FaceTime before, and only when someone called me.

But I messaged my students and offered the FaceTime option for today. All but one of my Monday students took me up on the offer. I was glad that they’ve known me for a while and wouldn’t mind my fumbling with the details. I went to the music store so that I’d be there for the one student who wanted to come in, but as soon as I got there I had a message from them saying they’d like to FaceTime, too. By this time, six counties in the Bay Area had ordered a shelter in place, and I figured Sonoma County would follow.

My first student was the one who had decided at the last minute not to come in, and I was grateful, because they said it was because their parent worked at a hospital. It took us ten minutes to connect because neither of us thought to check that they had FaceTime on their phone,  but I was pleasantly surprised by how clear the sound was.

My second student, like the first, was all set up and ready. We talked about what a weird time it was. We went through the Arban book and talked about their maybe having a second phone next time so that they could use the iRealPro app like we usually do at the end of lessons. (Or a metronome.)

Another student brainstormed about what we could do with recording duets with a time lapse. I told them to take pictures of any music they printed out to learn so that I could see what I was supposed to be listening to.

In the end, what I was most happy about was not the relative security of my income but the chance to give a sense of normalcy to my students, and even to myself. I was so impressed that they were already social distancing so completely and so prepared for this new FaceTime challenge. I was so happy to see them.

A local news person posted tonight that Sonoma County will have some form of sheltering in place tomorrow. It’s a new world. There’s no doubt that in-person lessons are best, but for now I’m so happy to see my kids and give them the weekly dose of one on one attention they have gotten used to and, I hope, love.

If your young trombone player would like a few lessons via FaceTime during this crazy shelter-in-place, send me a message for pricing.