Musicians adapt to different lessons


photo contributed by Josie Satterfield

In her living room where she practices clarinet, sophomore Josie Satterfield makes notes on her sheet music during a lesson.

Cassie Barnes, Staff Writer

Whether it be lyrics or composition, many people find comfort in the creation of melodies that bind together to form music. In order to study and produce those melodies, students often receive music lessons from a professional.

“I was seven years old when my mom put my sister and me in a piano class,” sophomore Shreya Palvia said. “My sister quit, but I enjoyed it so much that I kept going to lessons, and I’m still taking classes now.”

Outside of personal lessons, students can also attend music classes in school. Students are often encouraged by private music teachers to take choir, band or orchestra to allow a collaborative work environment with other musicians at the same level and pace. Taking music classes in school can lead to more intensive and effective private lessons.

“My family has a history of playing clarinet, so I have been playing since fifth grade, and I am in band this year,” sophomore Josie Satterfield said. “In lessons, I usually warm up by playing scales, and then I will either practice sheet music my teacher gives me or sheet music from school.”

Similar to school music programs, studios have made changes to fit the safety guidelines of the pandemic. Some reopened academies have set guidelines for instructors and students to follow during in-person lessons, while others, such as Mason Arts and Levine Music, are switching to fully virtual lessons.

“My piano teacher used to come and teach me at my house,” Palvia said. “Now, she teaches me over the phone. She can’t see my face because she is usually looking at music on her phone, but neither of us have had many Wi-Fi issues, so it isn’t too bad.”

Audio quality can be negatively affected during online lessons. When using computers and phones, background noise can echo through the microphone, which interferes with the music quality.

“Sometimes, my teacher has a hard time hearing through the computer and I can hear my own clarinet echo through her microphone,” Satterfield said. “I have been doing lessons and playing in my bedroom because it’s more convenient and quiet, and I don’t feel like I am bothering my parents as much.” 

For almost a year now, young musicians have missed in-person instruction. Despite the struggle, some have been able to continue learning their instrument, and others have started to pick up a new instrument while in quarantine. Searching for music lessons in Northern Virginia or browsing through local college music programs is a common way to get started with private lessons, and many have turned to online to keep everyone safe.

“I prefer in-person lessons, but I also think it’s easier online for [an experienced player] than it is for beginners,” Palvia said. “I know enough that I only need a little bit of guidance. It’s not as fun online as it is in person, but I am able to do it, and I will continue to do it because I really like it.”