Online lessons

Although it is always preferable to have a lesson in person, many people live too far away from expert teachers to have a lesson in person. Now video-calling technology makes it possible to meet for lessons from all over the world.

Online lessons are available with The Well-Balanced Pianist Director Teresa Dybvig. These are private lessons, with the student and the instructor at their own pianos. Read on for information from Teresa Dybvig about these lessons.

About our online lessons

Please plan on taking two 90-minute lessons to get started – you will have many questions, but I still want you to get a good idea of something important during that first lessons. Your first lesson is free of charge. This is to establish that our technology is set up well and that you learn effectively in an online lesson (people who need the kinesthetic experience of the teacher moving their hands and arms may not find online lessons effective). While we will likely exchange important information during this time, please do not expect to answer all your questions in the first 90-minute session.

Some people prefer 1½ hour lessons for the long term too, although most people cut back to one hour after the first two lessons.

If you would like to schedule a trial lesson, please start by filling out the online lesson request form.

You will need a high-speed Internet connection, use of Skype, and a Skype contact name. Obviously, you will also need a webcam, and it’s best if you have a laptop computer. An Ethernet cable that allows you to attach your computer directly to your router may improve our audio and video if your router is in another room.

A webcam that you can connect to a USB port is ideal. It allows you to attach your webcam to a tripod that you can move around so I can see your hand and arm from many angles. At the same time, you can position your laptop in front of you, on your music rack on your grand piano, or on the top of your upright piano. With the computer in front of you, you can see my demonstrations easily. You may need to attach your webcam by rubber band to your tripod, although webcam manufacturers are beginning to include a tripod thread in some products. Check that carefully before purchasing a webcam, and choose accordingly. A webcam with three or four feet is difficult to secure to a tripod.

As of this writing, I use a Logitech C920 webcam. All my students who have this model are happy with it. You don’t have to have a Logitech C920, but do check out reviews carefully before buying.

Use the tallest tripod you can find. It’s important for me to be able to see your hand and arm from above. Another option that works tolerably is a Joby “Gorillapod.” It has short, flexible legs that allow people to secure it to many locations. I can usually see hands and arms adequately from above when students use the Gorillapod, but a tall tripod is better.

There are enormous drawbacks to using the webcam embedded in your computer. Turning to see my demonstrations can cause you neck pain, and you cannot move the camera around so I can see what I need to see. A good webcam and a tripod will be your allies.  If you want to have your first lesson with the embedded camera so you can determine if the format is productive for you, I understand.  Just bear in mind that you are not getting the full experience, and plan to purchase an external webcam if you decide to continue.

RECORDING YOUR LESSONS
My students who record their lessons progress faster than others — often much faster. Please try to find a way to record your lessons that will be convenient for you to listen to or watch after the lesson. Some of my students use a simple audio device, and others use a separate video camera. There are also a few Skype-call recording programs available. An inexpensive Skype-call recording program which works well for some of my students is Call Recorder, which is available only for Macs. Skype has its own call recorder, which can work fine if your upload and download speeds support it.  If not, the audio and video quality may be affected.

Some of my students only make recordings after they have understood something fully in a lesson. This is helpful in two ways: first, describing the new skill helps them understand it even better; second, they end up with only a few minutes of recording per lesson – making it easier to review the recordings afterwards.

FEES
When you schedule your first lesson, I’ll send you a link to a web page through which you can pay for lessons through PayPal.

Fees for webcam lessons:
1½ hours (90 minutes): $140.  Plan on this length for the first two lessons and decide if you want to maintain that or scale back to 1-hour lessons afterwards.
1 hour (60 minutes): $95. The standard length.
½ hour (30 minutes): $55 Useful only for quick checks and for students of my students whose teachers are present.

ONLINE LESSON POLICIES

  • Lesson fees are not refundable.
  • Payment is due within 24 hours of the lesson.

An unusual cancellation policy.

  • If for some reason I run late, or have to miss a lesson, of course I will make up that time.
  • I understand very occasional cancellations. I do not need to charge for them, if you cancel before our start time.
  • If cancelling lessons becomes a habit, I will let you know that you need to pay for the previous cancelled lesson before we schedule another lesson.
  • If you cancel more lessons than you take, I will stop scheduling lessons with you.

When the technology breaks down.

  • I do not make up time lost because the student’s set-up takes longer than expected.
  • If we establish within ten minutes of our start time that we will not be able to work because Skype or one of our internet connections is down, we will just reschedule.
  • If we lose more than ten minutes trying to make it work, we share the pain. If we lose 20 minutes, I make up 10 minutes. If we lose 40 minutes, I make up 20 minutes, etc.

Please plan on taking two 90-minute lessons to get started – you will have many questions, but I still want you to get a good idea of something important during that first lessons. Your first lesson is free of charge. This is to establish that our technology is set up well and that you learn effectively in an online lesson (people who need the kinesthetic experience of the teacher moving their hands and arms may not find online lessons effective). While we will likely exchange important information during this time, please do not expect to answer all your questions in the first 90-minute session.

Some people prefer 1½ hour lessons for the long term too, although most people cut back to one hour after the first two lessons.

If you would like to schedule a trial lesson, please start by filling out the form below.