Sara here. It's been a rough winter so far in western Pennsylvania. Since we came back to school this January, we've had six 2-hour delays, one 2-hour early dismissal (didn't even know that was a thing!), and three full day cancellations.

That's a lot for only being back in school for 3 weeks!

Thankfully we've been using online lessons when students can't make it into the studio, so I don't have to work longer hours this month. And since I've been doing so many online lessons lately, I started to notice some unexpected benefits from teaching my students remotely.

Benefit #1: I got to hear what their piano sounds like.

Now, I'll readily admit that I forgot to remind my families to tune their pianos last year. After many years of sending out tuning reminders in emails and newsletters, I thought we had gotten into a pattern where they would remind themselves. Nope.

One of the pianos I witnessed was so bad, that it's no wonder Alex** hasn't had consistent practice over the past 6 months! His piano was at least 1/4 step flat, and so horribly out of tune that I had to remind myself not to cringe visibly while he was playing. (** name changed to protect the innocent)

Whenever I notice an out-of-tune piano, I follow up with the family by having a conversation about how important it is to keep up with yearly tuning. (And I send them a picture of my piano tuner's business card!)

Benefit #2: I got to see their bench height.

In addition to hearing their pianos, I also got to see how my students were sitting at home. This was especially important for little students who might not remember to do these things on their own. Boy, did I witness some eye-openers on this one...

One of my littles was sitting so far forward that her elbows were almost hitting her knees! Her seat was also way too low. Being able to see this gave us the opportunity to run through a home routine of adjusting the bench. She was even able to add a solid cushion to fix the height issue.

Afterwards she said, "Wow! This is a lot more comfortable!" Now I'll be sure to remind her about this as she leaves my studio after the next lesson.

Benefit #3: I got to see what else was going on.

What might be common sense to a piano teacher isn't always common sense to everyone else. We know that piano practice requires a room where students aren't distracted, but sometimes we forget to mention this (or reiterate this) to our families.

During one FaceTime lesson, I noticed that a sibling was watching television in the same room. It was a real distraction. I paused our lesson, asked Timmy** to bring Mom on for a moment, and asked if we could have a quiet space for 45 minutes. She hadn't noticed what was going on, and told me that she'd keep an eye on that in the future.

What I learned from this...

While snow days can be frustrating, they actually allowed me the opportunity to address problems that were definitely having an impact on my students' abilities to practice at home. Thank goodness for FaceTime and Skype lessons!

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