Love in Music offers virtual instrumental music lessons

Since October of last year, the Love in Music branch of Santa Ana has been running virtual music lessons every week. Love in Music, a public nonprofit charity based in Southern California, has been providing children from underserved families with free music education for almost 14 years. The organization’s high school volunteers teach children the basics of their instruments and foster their love of classical music.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Love in Music has had to suspend traditional in-person classes and move online classes for the 2020-21 season. Despite this dramatic change, students and teachers continued to make the most of their resources and demonstrate their dedication to music.

Every Saturday morning, elementary to middle school students connect to Zoom with their instruments, ready to practice. After a brief greeting and recording, they are then divided into small groups based on the instrument they are playing. Each teacher is responsible for supervising one to two students, providing each student with lots of attention and guidance.

A typical weekly Zoom lesson lasts about an hour. Teachers adapt to the different skill levels of their students, guiding them through warm-up exercises and plays in preparation for the seasonal concerts.

Having music lessons on Zoom has its advantages. The screen sharing tool makes it easy for teachers to present sheet music to their students and browse measures. Plus, being in a breakout room allows for more privacy and one-on-one connection than would be possible in a crowded classroom. If a student has a question, their teacher can offer to help immediately.

On the other hand, learning music is basically a hands-on experience. It can be difficult to properly guide students through their mistakes on a screen and to provide correct playing examples. The sound quality is also compromised compared to Zoom. There are also times when students are distracted and exhausted by long periods of time online, which discourages them.

Students and teachers alike have come to realize that they need more patience and determination this year than any previous year. The road to the finish line was not easy, but they were able to spend a semester learning online and hosting the first virtual Love in Music winter concert in January.

The concert consisted of a video compilation of home performances recorded by the students and an audio recording of the teachers playing “The first Christmas “. While this may sound like a disappointment compared to a traditional in-person concert, the video was a direct product of Love in Music’s efforts and commitment to maintaining a quality music education. Everyone felt extremely proud of what they were able to accomplish even from a distance.

Even online, Love in Music has found ways to connect and stay true to its mission of building a loving community with the gift of music. The enthusiasm of program participants over the past few months has been quite moving. Each week, students are eager to share details about their lives, from the names of the songs they practice to their music lessons at school. They even turn their mics back on and celebrate whenever someone’s birthday comes up. With so many happy voices on the screen ringing out at once, it almost feels like nothing has changed.

With another virtual concert coming up in May, Love in Music is busier than ever. Students continue to log into meetings weekly, slowly but steadily improving their instruments. They can’t wait to show off the skills they’ve developed, and rightly so. While the year isn’t over yet, Love in Music’s progress so far has definitely proven that pure passion and love for a profession is something that can easily transcend physical distance.

For more information on the Love in Music program, please visit loveinmusic.org.

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