Online Lessons are now available for studying the harp with Maggie Lovell. Over the past few years, I have worked with a few of my students to perfect a system for teaching the harp via one-on-one lessons over internet video calls. This system and my methods of remote teaching have ensured that nothing is lost in the learning process due to the remote nature of the lessons. If you are interested in studying the harp with me but do not live in a location that makes it reasonably possible for you to travel to my studio regularly, read on to learn more!
Check out this blog post if you’d like to read a bit more about the history behind my decision to start offering remote lessons, and the development of the system that I use.
Please note that Remote Lessons are not available for brand new students of the harp or those of an early beginner level.
See below for more details.
How does an Online Lesson with Maggie work?
Online lessons are scheduled just like in-person lessons, with a designated day and time slot each week. Rather than traveling to my studio for a lesson on one of my harps, the student has lessons from their home and on their own harp.
All that students need to have for their lessons is a relatively private and quiet area of their house to set up their harp and computer or device. See the FAQs below for more details about what students need for a successful online lesson.
Simple & Easy-to-Use
Remote Lessons are taught through a program called Zoom, which is a free service that runs through your internet browser (or a tablet app) with no requirements to download, install, or sign up for anything. I create a link (URL) that you will save for all lessons. When you are ready for your lesson, you click the link, enter your “name” (which can literally be anything) and join the call. Unlike programs like Skype, there is no actual “calling” or answering required in Zoom. A student is able to join the call up to 30 minutes early, even if I’m not available yet. This provides a perfect opportunity for a student to go ahead and connect to the call and warm-up for their lesson without having to worry about it any further. Once we’re both in the call, we can start the lesson whenever we want.
(Note: Zoom is highly preferred to Skype or Facetime, as it has proven time and again to be not only easier to use, but far more reliable. It’s exceedingly rare that Zoom calls freeze or drop, and do not require that both parties are ready at the same time to connect. No account or installation is required and it’s truly as simple as clicking a link.)
High-Tech Set-Up for the Best Quality
My Remote Studio set-up includes all the high-tech gadgets needed for a successful lesson. I have a portable desktop PC with a 20” screen for best view of the student’s playing and technique, with a production recording style external microphone to ensure the clearest and best quality sound. An HD external webcam on a portable tripod and arm make sure that I am able to quickly and easily show the student a variety of angles, to give the best examples of hand position from as close or as far away as we need. My computer has built-in high quality Bose speakers, but if needed, I can also use my professional level headphones to even better hear the student’s tone quality and sound.
All the Same Attention as In-Person Lessons
I keep copies of all pieces of music that a student is working on and during lessons, mark on the music and apply “stickies” – my way of marking temporary issues and things for the student to focus on during practice – as if I am writing on the student’s actual music. I also write extensive lesson notes, detailing exactly what is to be practiced for the next lesson, things to note or focus on, how to best practice these things, thorough explanations of any new techniques or concepts discussed, and anything else that I deem important. During the lesson, I make sure to discuss and explain all things that I write in the lesson notes, and I write anything important that is discussed so that the student can better remember all relevant details between lessons.
All the Same Feedback as In-Person Lessons
After the lesson, I scan lesson notes and all pages of music that include new markings or stickies. All of this is sent to the student as a PDF file, usually immediately after the end of the lesson. Students are encouraged to copy any markings and stickies into their own music, and keep all lesson notes for regular reference while practicing. In this way, remote students have full access to all of the same instructions and feedback that an in-person student would have between lessons.
24/7 Teacher Access
During the week, students are encouraged to contact me if they have any questions or issues. I consider myself a teacher 24/7 and not just during the lesson time, so students are always welcome to contact me. If needed, I will write up a detailed explanation of any issues in question, or even record short video examples if I think it will help. And if it’s a quick question, students are always able to text me for a faster response.
Interested in Online Lessons?
If you or someone you know might be interested in taking remote harp lessons with me, be sure to Contact Me to discuss the possibility! If you have further questions about how the remote lessons work, check the FAQs below for some more detailed information about many of the things discussed above. If you have further questions not addressed here, please feel free to send those questions my way!
Please note that remote lessons are not available for brand new students of the harp or early beginners. Learning the basics of proper hand position and technique is so important that I will always recommend in-person lessons with a teacher to start. If you do not have access to in-person harp lessons and are very interested in remote lessons with me, contact me to discuss some possible options.
For more details about some of the things discussed above, please look below. If the information you’re looking for is not here, please Contact Me for more info.
WHY REMOTE LESSONS?
For anyone interested in harp lessons who isn’t located within a reasonable distance of an available teacher – or within reasonable distance of a well-qualified harp teacher – there are often no options for one-on-one quality instruction and learning. Many people turn to the internet and online videos for instructions on how to play the harp and are inundated with misinformation and improper technique. The unfortunate truth about the internet is that anyone can make and upload “instructional” videos, and anyone can call themselves an expert.
Throughout the years, I have been contacted by many students and potential students who either have no access to a local teacher, or have learned incorrectly through watching online videos and tutorials. Even instructional videos by reputable harpists are no substitute for one-on-one lessons with a teacher, because a video cannot explain things in more details if they’re not fully understood, provide feedback on whether you are doing things correctly, or answer your questions. There is no substitute for an actual teacher.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR REMOTE LESSONS?
Remote lessons are an option for students who possess a good understanding of basic technique and hand position, and who are not early beginners. I do not offer remote lessons for brand new students of the harp or those who are in the early stages of learning basic hand position, as I feel that in-person lessons with a teacher are considerably more beneficial for the student who is just starting out.
Remote lessons are also not available to students who are located within a reasonable driving distance of the lesson studio. If you are able to reasonably travel to my lesson studio for in-person lessons, in-person lessons will always be the recommended option.
If you’re unsure if your current level of playing or location would make you eligible for remote lessons, please feel free to Contact Me to discuss the possibility or options.
HOW DO REMOTE LESSONS WORK?
Remote lessons work like normal lessons, except instead of driving to my house and having your lesson on one of my harps, you will stay at home and play on your own harp. Lessons are scheduled and planned just like normal lessons, with a consistent day and time slot devoted to your lesson. Most lessons are taught over Zoom, a free and easy service that runs through your internet browser. All you need on your side is an internet connection, a screen or monitor, and a webcam (either built-in or external). Little-to-no experience with technology is needed, as it is overall a very simple and easy process.
On my side of things, I have all of the high-tech gadgets needed to ensure you have the best lesson experience possible. High speed fiber internet, a designated production recording style microphone, and an HD external camera on a portable tripod and arm. The microphone provides the clearest and best sound quality possible, while my portable camera allows me to show anything that needs demonstrated, from any angle, near or far.
I have copies of all pieces that a student is working on and during the lesson, I write on the music and apply “stickies” (my method of marking temporary issues and things to be addressed in practicing) as if I am putting them directly on the student’s music. I also write detailed lesson notes, explaining what is to be worked on between lessons, how best to practice certain techniques, details and instructions for any new techniques or ideas, and general comments and feedback on the lesson. During the lesson, I discuss all of these things with the student to make sure they are fully understood.
After the lesson, I scan in all lesson notes and all pages of music that include any new markings or stickies and send it to the student as a PDF file. Students are then encouraged to copy any markings or stickies onto their own music, and keep the lesson notes for regular reference during practice. I am then available to students at all times for any questions. If I need to type a long email explaining something further, or even record a video to send as example, I will happily do so.
WHAT DOES THE STUDENT NEED FOR REMOTE LESSONS?
- A (mostly) private and quiet place in their home where they can set up their harp and anything needed during the lesson time, free from excess distractions.
- A computer, laptop, or tablet. Obviously the larger the screen and/or better quality the device, the better your lesson experience. However, I have had students use iPads and other tablets for remote lessons with great success.
- A webcam. This can be either built-in to the computer/laptop/tablet, or external for better control, quality, and placement. Very good quality external webcams can be easily purchased for less than $20.
- A microphone. Just about all webcams (built-in or external), computers and laptops, and tablets have built-in microphones. If by chance your device does not, you may need to purchase an external microphone, which can be fairly cheap. External microphones do provide a higher quality of sound than most built-in microphones, but are by no means necessary.
- An internet connection. While an internet connection is obviously required, it does not necessarily have to be extremely high speed internet. I have had good success in remote lessons with students with smaller internet plans, though some consideration for lesson scheduling may need to be considered for students with slower internet speeds. Late afternoons and evenings when kids are home from school can drastically lower internet quality for those living in neighborhoods, for example.
And that’s basically it! Other than a few things I ask students to have handy during lessons (such as a pencil), nothing else is required to start lessons. Even the Zoom program that I use for the video calls does not require download or purchase of a computer program.