Online music classes can pass time during shutdown

Sydney, left, and Avery Brouse, of Lewisburg, dug out their old band instruments and performed an impromptu concert on Instagram from their Lewisburg home last week.

Stuck home during the shutdown? Dig up that old trombone from high school or dust off your piano and pick out some tunes. Need some help to hone your skills? Nothing will be as good as a real, live music teacher, but in a pinch, online tutorials can help.

Numerous sites offer free lessons. Check out MakeUseOf.com for lessons in guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, violin, bagpipes and drums. MakingMusicFun.net offers lessons for kids and intermediate players for piano, recorder, flute, clarinet, trumpet, guitar, percussion and even bagpipes.

At her Piano and Alexander Technique Studio, in Selinsgrove, Kay Hooper works with both pre-professional and recreational pianists as well as with other musicians who are retraining their movement patterns. She has had to turn to online teaching for the duration of the shutdown.

“While other people were dusting off their Monopoly games and cleaning out closets, independent piano teachers like myself were watching videos on online teaching,” she said. “Thanks to platforms like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangouts, we have ways to connect with our students while our studios are in shutdown mode.”

Sheltering in place can give people an opportunity to pick up an old instrument or start a new one, Hooper said.

“If they are now working from home instead of commuting, the workday could more easily accommodate some practice time,” she said. “If they are retired and unable to get out, they can use online lessons as a personal connection as well as a focus to the day.”

There’s also nothing wrong with just picking up an instrument and playing. Experiment a bit, and you might just pluck out a tune.

Sisters Sydney and Avery Brouse, of Lewisburg, dug out their old band instruments and performed an impromptu concert on Instagram from their Lewisburg home last week.

“My sister and I picked it up because we knew it was something we could do together to pass the time,” said Sydney, 21. “I hadn’t picked up my flute in a few years, so it was fun kind of re-teaching myself how to play. Musically, it didn’t go the best, but we had a lot of laughs at ourselves and fun with it.”

Musical events around the Valley have been cancelled or postponed, but some musicians have gotten creative with sharing their talents.

“I do notice that there are various kinds of online performances happening and that some musicians are setting up porch or driveway concerts in their neighborhoods, keeping a safe distance from each other and their audiences,” Hooper said.

Fight the fear that the coronavirus incites. Music can be a great weapon for that.

“My sister and I both struggle with anxiety in different ways, but music, whether playing it or listening to it, has always been an outlet for us,” Sydney Brouse said. “It gives you something else to focus on rather than the anxiety and boredom.”

“Music is one of the most effective ways to express our emotions and uplift our spirits,” Hooper said. “Even if you consider yourself a non-singer, sing anyway. If your neighborhood has a weekly sing-in, step outside and join the crowd.”

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