By Debbie Adams
Susan Lewis has been teaching music in the Roanoke Valley since 1990. She is much acclaimed as a teacher of both voice and piano to students across the valley. Her students perform not only in annual recitals, but at many community events in Vinton and throughout the area. In March, nine of her music and vocal students competed in the annual Vinton Breakfast Lions Club Bland Music Scholarship Competition with several winners among them. Two of those students are seniors in high school, planning to major in music in college.
So, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented some challenges for Lewis and her students this spring. However, she has not let the novel coronavirus put a stop to their music education. She is now offering online classes in voice and piano.
“An awesome fact has resulted from embracing teaching online piano and voice lessons to many of my students during these unusual times,” said Lewis. “We, as music teachers, are not limited by geographic location.
“My students, as well as their parents, are quite pleased with this new option,” Lewis noted. “The format may be different, but the productivity has been amazing. These online lessons are so much fun!
“School may be cancelled, but there is no reason piano and voice lessons have to end,” she said. “Continuing practice and lessons is one thing we can do to help promote some stability and normalcy for everyone.
“I am incredibly excited about this new opportunity and its future potential,” Lewis added. “Many teachers have been teaching online for years, and it is filling a much-needed gap in society’s need for lessons, especially for students in rural areas who don’t have access to music teachers.”
As for how teaching online is being facilitated, Lewis says, “First of all, a video platform and a device need to be chosen. There are many video platforms out there and it doesn’t matter whether students choose to use their tablet, smartphone, laptop, or computer. I am having the most success with FaceTime for several reasons.
“The first reason is current familiarity among parents and students with FaceTime. Secondly, it is more stable and reliable, in my experience, with better audio/video quality– also having less glitches and latency than Zoom or Skype which are other platform choices. Thirdly, it is easier to use and less complicated than other video platforms which students (especially younger ones) and parents welcome.”
Lewis says there are free Apps to use that work across both iOS and Android devices. These work essentially the same as Apple’s FaceTime.
“I focus on the quality of my instruction and personal interaction with my students as the technology falls into place,” Lewis continues. “It is an ongoing learning experience. Adapting to our own teaching styles and especially our particular students’ needs is very important.”
The annual Susan Lewis Music Studio Spring Piano and Voice Recital is scheduled for May 17 at Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church. Lewis says that event may need to be rescheduled, depending upon state guidelines.
“With four current seniors, and two college students who have been working so hard in preparation, in addition to all of my other students, we will definitely still have the recital!” she promises.
Lewis showcases senior music students each year at the spring recital.
“Lastly, I’ll say this – I have jumped on this bandwagon (of online lessons) and am thoroughly enjoying the ride!”
You may contact Susan Lewis by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone/text: 540-890-3400. Her Facebook Page and YouTube Channel are both: Susan Lewis Music Studio.