I’m happy to announce that recently I was offered an opportunity to become an examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) and have begun conducting remote examinations over Zoom.
While, for obvious reasons, I can’t officially evaluate my own students, it does mean that students preparing for RCM piano exams will benefit from my close knowledge of the system and the professional development that comes with the position. I’m looking forward to developing this skill even further and one day being able to travel all over the US and Canada to conduct exams in-person, while continuing to teach from Austin/Round Rock.
I’m excited to announce that we have bought a house and so over the next few weeks North Austin Piano Studio will be moving to Round Rock!
The new address is 1519 Ashwood Ct, Round Rock 78664. It is located in a cul-de-sac off of Greenlawn Blvd, 2 miles north of the HEB at Greenlawn and Louis Henna.
The new location is about 5.5 miles northeast of our current house. My hope is that whether you’re coming to lessons from the west side of Round Rock, or Pflugerville, or northbound I-35, your commute will be basically the same (or shorter!) once we resume in-person lessons.
For the foreseeable future, nothing much will change in terms of Zoom lessons. For the very few of you who are attending in-person lessons with precautions, keep coming to Kissman Dr until I let you know when I’m ready at the new location.
I want to reiterate that once the pandemic is over, I will still be offering remote teaching as an alternative to in-person lessons. This will give students the option to attend lessons remotely when they are sick, traveling, or if the family car is required for another purpose, instead of missing the lesson. In fact, for those who may wish to continue remote lessons regularly, I will only require a minimum of one in-person lesson per month to observe posture and properly hear tone production and artistry.
Reopening the studio is a tricky topic. On the one hand, most businesses and public services have reopened. On the other hand, cases are continuing to rise, so we are by no means out of the woods. It seems that the major part of the risk of infection through aerosolized droplets will fall on visitors to my studio, which is my "air space" if you will. So let me start off by saying:
Zoom lessons can continue at students’ or parents’ discretion indefinitely during the pandemic. You have my full support to continue attending lessons through Zoom.
The studio, despite the following re-opening plan, may revert back to online-only lessons if the pandemic worsens and are ordered to do so by authorities.
That said, I am willing to re-open the studio starting Monday, June 15, with the following safety protocols, which are based on the diagram below:
Masks: students (for whom it is age-appropriate) and the teacher shall wear masks while in the Studio.
Distance: students and the teacher shall maintain social distancing of 6 feet (approx. one piano length).
Clean hands: Students shall use hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting the studio. Hand sanitizer will be provided for students who do not have their own.
Fewer people: I ask at this time that everyone except the student stay outside of the studio during the lesson. Students should only enter at their lesson time, and plan to leave promptly at the end of their lesson. Back-to-back lessons will be reduced by 5 minutes in order to allow time for properly cleaning surfaces between students, and to avoid student overlap.
Keep interactions brief: Risk of infection increases with the length of time of exposure. It is my understanding that indoor interactions of less than one hour are acceptable.
Avoid sharing: I ask that families plan to not have to use the restroom at the studio at this time (although of course it is available for emergencies).
All this aside, let me say I am excited to welcome those of you who choose to attend lessons in-person back to the studio soon! Please let me know if you plan on attending in-person so I can update the calendar accordingly. Lessons will default to Zoom unless I hear directly from you.
Thank you for your continued support and your patience during this challenging time.
Classic FM's composer-in-residence, Debbie Wiseman, composed "Together" while much of the world is confined to our homes due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Here is my performance of this piece. I filmed it through the Zoom app on my computer to give it a little bit of a low-fi look, although I used my nicer audio recorder for the sound. I spend hours each day watching my students through the lens of the Zoom window, so it seemed an appropriate touch.
Here is the Classic FM site where you can read more about this piece. Click here to download the sheet music that Ms. Wiseman has made available to everyone for free. The best part? There is a "starter" version available that is simplified for newer pianists.
So, get practicing if you like this piece! Let's hear your versions.
Just like many businesses have done in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, North Austin Piano Studio has gone remote. Zoom is a relatively easy way to connect over the internet at your usual lesson time, with minimal set up and equipment. I have taught this way for remote students for years and am very comfortable with the slight adaptations to the teaching style it requires. I'm also well versed in getting students of all ages up to speed with the necessary adaptation.
I also really think there are some ways in which Zoom lessons improve on lessons! It requires me to email my lesson notes directly to the parent's invoice, and, using MyMusicStaff, I can assign and track repertoire directly on a student's account. Each repertoire entry has direct links to audio and video files to help with learning. Truly, online learning has its advantages!
I encourage all students and parents to embrace what is helpful about having to move lessons to an online platform, as well as the opportunity to increase or re-commit to daily piano practice since kids are indeed stuck at home all day. Maybe some good habits we forge during these hard times will endure once we are able to resume the "old" ways once again.
It's official - Graham Yates is now a certified music teacher with the Royal Conservatory of Music. Mr. Yates learned the system before graduating high school in Canada, earning credentials for level 9 piano through a practical examination that included performing, comprehensive technical demonstrations, ear tests and sight-reading evaluations. He also completed the co-requisite music theory and history examinations.
After earning his masters degree in piano performance, Mr. Yates taught the RCM system in Canada for many years by preparing students for practical, theory and history exams. Since moving to Texas in 2014, he has successfully prepared many students for RCM exams, from preparatory level A through Level 9.
Mr. Yates looks forward to extending the benefits of RCM Certification to his students through enhanced educational opportunities.
It's official! Graham has accepted an offer to adjudicate the 2020 Kwantlen Polytechnic University International Music Festival in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. He will evaluate public performances by young pianists in April. Check out the KPU International Music Festival website for details.