But plenty are plunging in. Kramer rattled off examples: the saxophone teacher who plies his trade at schools during free periods and resorts to online lessons with those students during snow days. The pianist who spends months with her grandchild in California and has managed to hang on to many students remotely.
For the enthused, she said, “it’s a philosophy: ‘This can work.'”
An accomplished musician, Tolchin began examining new ways of teaching more than a quarter-century ago, when he produced one of the first series of instructional videos on the market. In time, he shifted to DVD, but competition coupled with free YouTube tutorials eventually slowed sales.
Next, the hippie-era New York transplant with wispy gray hair tried phone lessons. It worked for him, “but the students needed to see my fingers.” Two years ago, he gussied up his computer setup.
Tolchin, 66, describes himself as “a facilitator, a coach, a trainer, sometimes a parent, sometimes a therapist.”
He allows students to choose their music and guides them with intimacy, at their own pace. He promises a mix of “patient disciplining” combined with plenty of acknowledgment and enthusiasm. He loves guiding those with a passion for it into the realm of songwriting.
To him, teaching remotely doesn’t change much.
“When you see someone’s face, you see their doubt or their excitement,” he said. “It’s really about the person and the issues they have around performance, being accepted, worrying about being reprimanded. What I really do is develop a relationship.”