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by Aubrey Aikens

For the past few years, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of remote music lessons, since it removes a lot of the geographical, financial, and social stressors associated with in-person learning. With all of the positives, however, comes skepticism and a fear of the unknown. Musicians often feel a pressure to compete with computers, rather than working in tandem with them, and I feel that might be a reason why the transition between online and in-person music lessons has been a challenge.

As I look back on 2020, I can’t help but reflect on how much we as a community here at Altered Stage have had to embrace technology more than ever before. Teaching online has been both an eye-opening and harrowing experience for the other teachers with whom I’ve had the pleasure of speaking. We agreed that although it has allowed us to connect with our students in ways we have never before, it also has opened up the doors to negatives like Zoom fatigue and the frustration of technological limitations. We do the best with what we have in an effort to provide the highest quality instruction, and hope that the engineers of these programs upon which we rely so heavily will consider our needs in their next update. While we watch as the world advances faster and faster, we also are aware of our own capacity for adaptation.

Within the constraints of social distancing, musicians have, in many ways, started creating truly new things. Virtual reality concerts, interactive video game experiences, international choirs and orchestras, live-streamed operas, online workshops, and more! Miraculously, we soldier on. With online lessons as my main focus, I’ve reached people who otherwise might not have taken a lesson. I have helped people start projects they’ve put off for months-sometimes years. At Altered Stage, I’ve continued to foster a love for music and stay connected to members, all the while safely quarantining and looking forward to the future where we can jam together once more!

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