The Des Moines Symphony Academy offers lessons to musicians of all ages and has continued to provide the very best music education experience in the face of adversity. When private and group lessons were moved to an online format in late March, music education became a source of consistency in many students’ lives. As with any new instruction format, online lessons came with a learning curve. Younger students rely a lot on teachers physically helping them during lessons by tuning their instruments or marking their music. Beginning Strings Program students learn notes by pressing the string down on stickers or tapes placed on their instrument. Without a teacher present in-person to help students, parents took on more responsibility during lessons and became the teacher’s hands. Kelsey Reischl, parent of six Symphony Academy students, said, “I was able to be much more involved with remote lessons. At home, I can have the kids play in different rooms and sit it on the lesson with few interruptions,” something she was not usually able to do during in-person lessons.

Despite the interruption towards the end of the school year, Symphony Academy students grew and mastered skills that they continue to use in lessons as well as in school classrooms. Faculty have become experts in verbal musical instruction, due to the physical limitations of online lessons with students, which have been taking place since March. Shirlee Cagle says her daughter has gotten better at following her teacher’s verbal instructions. Developing this skill will play an essential part in online learning for school in the fall. Shirlee is a Symphony Academy parent and student; Shirlee started cello a few years after her daughter started private bass lessons.

Quality of sound is an integral part of learning any instrument, but families and faculty quickly learned that the sound quality during remote instruction was less than desirable. Because connectivity and video quality have made it challenging to work on tone, lessons shifted to more technique focused content. Violin student Samuel Brown has been learning vibrato and spending a lot of time working on bow hand techniques. While teachers may not be able to help with sound quality, musicality and phrasing are still being taught online. Shirlee says she has learned more about phrasing since during their online lessons as there is more time available to devote to it.

Some students have even said that they prefer online lessons. They are able to attend lessons every week, as there are no extracurricular activities preventing students from traveling to their lessons. Students were also able to have more personal interaction with teachers, showing them their room, favorite Lego creation, or pets. With online instruction continuing this fall, families can rest assured their children will flourish as musicians as Symphony Faculty are fully prepared for online instruction. Register for priavte and group lessons today.

Being able to continue their violin lessons during this time provided consistency when so much else changed. We appreciate all the hard work that went into making virtual lessons not only possible, but effective.

Reischl Family