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Lessons Online!

KathleenKathleen tells us about her experiences of online music lessons.
Kathleen was born in Pretoria, South Africa, 1958 and came to England 1995. Having achieved piano grade 6 in mid teens she started learning to play the organ in about 2012, at St Michael’s Church, Chatham by accompanying a small group of singers by giving the melody line only. She then found a local keyboard teacher about the same time as finding a happy position at St John Fisher RC, Rochester. Kathleen started taking exams at Grade 3 ABRSM, in which she achieved a distinction for both Theory and Practical in 2017. She has just taken Grade 4 Practical ABRSM, having passed the theory with Merit (having had a severe dose of flu, with a raging temperature and horrible cough on the day!) and currently studying organ under Jamie Rogers, Assist. Organist, St Marylebone Parish Church, London. She plans to take Grade 5 theory this year and Grade 6 in mid 2021. Kathleen thoroughly enjoys playing on Sundays and loves the ‘performance’ element when playing the organ, for which she has a huge passion. 
Skype Practical Organ Lesson – Well, I’ve had a few such lessons now. They work!
Equipment used initially was my home practice instrument – Yamaha Electone HX1 (with pedalboard) – now replaced with a Viscount Chorum 90; a little Samsung Tablet, downloaded Skype Lite to it; a music stand; little square paper holder on floor next to pedalboard (to balance my tablet on so the pedals could be seen if required).
I have Hauptwerk freebie loaded on a computer/screen-in-one set up on a book case next to my organ, so I use that (St Anne’s, Moseley) instead of the Yamaha sounds (which are not ideal!).
Volume can be controlled on my home instrument … I did ensure that the media volume was set to maximum on my tablet.
My teacher was able to hear me quite well and as I have noticed in the past, he picks up on everything! So, the fact that I was playing ‘lightly’ on my keyboard, didn’t go unnoticed! My teacher has a piano at home, so when he demonstrated a particular technique, I was able to see what he meant, e.g. playing ‘lightly’, or ‘pushing through the keys all the way’.
As for theory, I scanned and emailed him what I had done, and we discussed that over Skype at the end of the lesson.
Payment was easily done as we had set up online payment (bank to bank direct) already previously. This is great, as if the lesson overshoots, then I am easily able to adjust for the extra.
Setting up Skype was easily done. I already have a Skype account, so I needed do was email my teacher my “Skype name” and he was easily able to find me. I simply added him to my list of contacts.
I preferred Skype as it is free. Zoom, I would have to pay a subscription, if I wanted to use it for longer than 40 minutes! My lessons are an hour, at least.
Regarding my new home instrument, my teacher has been able to assist me, virtually, with setting up some pistons for frequently used registrations. Our lessons are, post Yamaha Electone!, so much better as I now have the correct alignment of pedalboard to the manuals, 3 manuals to work with, good sounds, so no need for Hauptwerk any longer!
If you have taken part in an event, have been learning online, are part of an organ teaching scheme or have any other organ related experience you would like to share with others, drop The Organ Manual a line, we’d love to hear from you!

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