I started experimenting with online teaching a couple of years ago. There has been a lot to learn:
  • the technical stuff about getting the sound and video to a suitable quality;
  • various issues inherent in the technology;
  • how to make use of this technology to teach the mandolin effectively...
My investigations confronted me as well with some surprising thoughts about teaching in general:
  • I remembered  for example that my very first mandolin teacher was pretty deaf. He was nonetheless well able to give me the information I needed, and in a way I could understand. How did he do this?
  • I knew of a famous trumpet teacher in Belgium, whose lip had been mangled in a car accident. How important is it that the teacher can play for the student?
  • On the same subject, I was once present at a piano lesson, where the "student" was an already successful concert performer. The teacher had long since stopped doing the enormous amount of practice that concert pianists usually do - she had been there and done that years before. The rightly famous lady didn't even touch a piano key during the lesson. But you are mistaken if you think the lesson was only about interpretation! Of course they talked about that too, but most of the time was spent discussing the everyday matter of fingering - literally thing like which finger to use for which note.
  • And it's well known that somebody who is very good at something may not be able to teach it, even if he wants to, because he cannot understand that somebody else has problems. After all, he doesn't! After a mandolin course, one often hears students saying "Gee, the teachers were great players!" That's good to hear, but one hopes the students also consider how much they themselves learnt from the teachers.

I'd like to use this page among other things to reflect on the process of online teaching. Most of the technical problems have been solved by now, thanks a lot to the patience and loyalty of my students, so it's more to do with the peculiarities and challenges of the method.

Interestingly, very few people who have decided to take regular lessons have stopped again. Every now and then, somebody takes advantage of the two free introductory sessions and doesn't continue, but as it says on the website, this doesn't matter. I enjoy the sessions anyway, and perhaps they will decide later on to take regular lessons.

I suppose because of the online nature of the whole thing, I often receive emails from students. Sometimes these deal with particular issues we are treating, and sometimes they are just nice. So I'll occasionally publish what students have written, which might give you a feeling for how this form of teaching works.

I'll also sometimes publish information about my own ideas. If you're curious, I recommend that you read - and work through! - my series which appears quarterly in various mandolin magazines around the world (CMSA Journal-USA; Plucked Strings in Australia; the Newsletter of the British BMG Federation).

Enough for today...