At Radha School of Music in Leander, owner and director Radha Windham said she teaches her students how to turn their feelings into music. The school began online lessons March 17, and she said her students are able to play their instruments more with the extra time at home.
Several students have begun songwriting to express their emotions, such as from missing friends while at home. Once students return to the school, Windham plans to start a program that teaches professional song recording with the students’ songs.
“People are kind of expressing their emotions more because they have time to,” she said. “It's actually wonderful.”
Since music and emotions are often in sync, Windham said she can tell when students are getting frustrated and about to burst into tears or when students are excited and inspired by music. Some lessons turn into therapy sessions because of music’s emotional ties. Anger turns into playing extra hard on the piano keys, or sadness can turn into songwriting, she said.
“It sounds strange, but I would rather see my student's face on the video chat than their hands,” she said.
Windham said teachers are adapting well and using more creative teaching styles, but teachers miss students’ before- and after-class hugs and homemade "love letters," Windham said.
“We have a close relationship with our students, and that kind of inspires them to practice and learn,” Windham said.
Voice and drum lessons have proven to be more difficult to teach. Drumming students cannot hear the teacher once they start playing unless they have headphones, and voice teachers need to see a student's breathing and stomach to give corrections.
Windham has shifted her teaching style to use ear training exercises, and the school has adjusted and cut group programs because of the difficulty of playing together remotely. After in-person classes resume, she said online lessons may continue for out-of-area or sick students. The school plans to move from Leander to a new Cedar Park location this summer.
Other music schools have also turned to online classes. Orpheus Academy in Austin and Cedar Park, Sense & Color School of Music in Cedar Park, The Musicians Woodshed in Austin and Velocity Music Academy in Cedar Park have made the virtual switch.
At HitMaker Music School in Cedar Park, the school has adapted to remote learning with notation, music theory and songwriting classes. Owner Mike Irene said the school's adjustments help students find value in their remote music lessons.
“The student is learning more about how to learn on their own,” Irene said. “They’re having to take ownership of what their process is.”
The school plans to move into a new Leander location in the summer to teach up to 500 students. Irene said parents are excited that their children can regularly see teachers because of the strong relationships built around music.
Both Radha School of Music and HitMaker Music School are accepting new students. Irene said he wants to keep their music service going to keep “normal lives happening.”
“We want to try to keep it as normal as possible for the kids,” Irene said.