COVID-19 UPDATE (18th June 2021).
Necessary precautions are being taken to mitigate risk levels; parents/carers/schools have been informed of the details for the relevant setting. If an individual pupil needs to self-isolate I will do my best to accommodate online lessons but cannot guarantee to do so. In the event of further lockdowns or if I need to self-isolate, online lessons will be provided.
Please check your emails (including junk/spam folders) and my social media pages regularly for updates.
Thank you for your patience and understanding during this unprecedented time.
Setting Up Online Lessons
Initial set up
1. Download Skype or Zoom - a laptop or desktop is probably better than a mobile device but a tablet is portable so may be more practical in terms of camera angles. I would avoid using a phone if you can, but it will work if this is your only option - essentially the bigger the screen the better as I may occasionally share images of sheet music.
2. If using Skype, create a Skype account if you do not already have one. If using Zoom you do not need an account but having one would allow you to adjust your sound settings in advance (see below).
3. If using Skype, Add your Skype name to My Music Staff. If you need me to re-send your login details please let me know. To add your Skype name go to 'Settings>My Preferences>Student Information>Edit'. If you need me to add it for you please email it to me. Remember to add your Skype name, found within your account settings - this is not always the same information you use to sign in - it often starts with 'live'.
4. Book a lesson time. To do this log in to My Music Staff, click on 'Calendar', then select a free slot. If there isn't a suitable slot available please let me know. All slots are set to 30 minutes. If your lesson is normally less than 30 minutes please just choose a slot - the extra time will help us to deal with any technical issues that may arise. If your lesson is normally longer than 30 minutes please select two consecutive slots. You do not need to book a lesson on the same day that you normally have a lesson - you can choose which day, but please only book yourselves for one lesson per week. In the event we need to continue with online lessons in the proceding term(s) I will release more slots for you to book in the relevant weeks. For those who have paired or group lessons please individually select a slot - pupils will instead receive a 10/15 minute individual lesson, depending on your usual lesson length. If you have any problems, please let me know which slot you would like to book and I can sign you up on your behalf. N.B. Your My Music Staff account may show a balance owing after you book your slot - this is because I haven't deleted the pre-booked lessons that were already scheduled - you will also notice these still show in your calendar; however they are cancelled. I will manually amend this once you have booked a lesson slot so that you are not charged twice.
5. Send me the sheet music in advance of the lesson - I have copies of most things but not everything so if you are able to email me a scan or photo of the piece(s)/exercise(s) that your child is learning that would be really helpful because I can then display them on the screen to be able to highlight and point to things. During the lesson pupils should still read their own sheet music though, not the screen.
Set up on the Day (at least 10 minutes before the scheduled lesson time)
1. Set up a music stand - ideally a proper music stand if you have one. Put the sheet music on the stand and a pencil.
2. Set up the instrument
3. If you are able to connect your device directly to your router i.e. using a wired connection, rather than wireless, this will help with connectivity issues. You may want to think about who else is using the internet in your home. If there is someone else using a games console or streaming videos during our lesson this could easily cause connectivity issues.
4. Open Skype and log in. If using Zoom open the link provided. Maximise the screen size.
5. Set up the camera so that the pupil's face can be seen. Give yourself plenty of space. If it is possible to get the instrument (or at least your fingers) in the shot that would be hugely beneficial.
6. If using Zoom, ensure your audio settings are suitable for music. See the guide here.
7. At the allotted lesson time ensure you are ready to receive a Skype call, or that you have the Zoom link open. On Skype I will call you (don't attempt to call me). On Zoom I will let you into the lesson from the waiting room. Sometimes a previous lesson might overrun by a few minutes, especially if we have technical difficulties, so please be patient and expect to wait for up to five minutes after your allotted time.
8. If you (as parent/carer) are able to be on hand to help with any technical issues that would be great - having easy access to your email account and phone would be really useful in case anything crashes - I'll get in touch as soon as I can.
9. Ensure you have also followed all the steps outlines in the Safeguarding section below.
Safeguarding - Online Lessons
In these circumstances I will usually be teaching from home. My wife and son may be in the house, but they will be under strict instruction not to interrupt. I will also blur my background on Skype/Zoom. Video conferencing software will be used only for the purposes of delivering the lesson, and only at the pre-arranged lesson time. A parent/carer account should be used at all times, not a child’s account. Luke Pickett will not contact the parent/carer via video call at any other time, unless pre-arranged; similarly parents/carers will not contact Luke Pickett via video call, unless pre-arranged. Where possible a password will be used to access the online lesson.
As far as possible I will interact with pupils in the same way as if it were a face-to-face lesson. Parents/carers do not need to be in the same room but are welcome to sit in on the lesson if they would like to. A responsible adult must be in the house throughout the lesson, and the door to the room where the lesson is taking place must be left open – please let me know if this will be an issue. It is requested that a parent/carer makes themselves visible at the start and end of each lesson. Lessons should take place in a general reception room: it is not appropriate for a child to be alone in their bedroom during a lesson. Children should be dressed in clothing that is suitable for contact with their teacher i.e. something that would be appropriate for a non-uniform day at school.
Skype/Zoom has a recording facility so lessons can be recorded: I will NOT be doing this as a matter of course; however can do so at the request of the parent/carer; alternatively parents/carers are welcome to record from their end but must let me know for music copyright reasons.
If lessons usually take place in a school setting, Luke Pickett will inform the school of all pupils attending that school who have made arrangements to hold lessons online and will invite schools to inform him of any concerns regarding this arrangement. Luke Pickett is aware that it is entirely possible that he may be the only trusted adult a child has direct contact with outside of their immediate family. In the event that a child makes any form of safeguarding disclosure to me during the course of the lesson I will follow the safeguarding procedures outlined in my Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy. My first point of contact will be the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) at the school where I normally teach the child. If this is not applicable, due to lessons not normally taking place in school, or if the DSL is not contactable, I will then contact the Local Authority through the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) or, in cases of immediate danger, the Police.
Please accept my apologies if I terminate a call because any of the above has not been followed - this is for your child's safety. By booking lesson slots, either directly on My Music Staff or via email request, parents/carers agree to this policy regarding online lessons and to the Teaching Agreement Addendum for Online Lessons. If you have any questions please contact me.
Top Tips for Online Lessons
- If using Skype, remember to add your Skype username to My Music Staff (or ask me to do it), otherwise I cannot call you. Be careful that you enter your username correctly (sometimes it is your name, sometimes your email address, sometimes a standard-format username, and sometimes it is completely random). Often it starts with live: but not always. Keep your phone handy - in the event I am unable to reach you on Skype/Zoom I will phone you. If your phone number has changed since you started having lessons with me please let me know.
Send me the sheet music in advance of the lesson - I have copies of most things but not everything so if you are able to email me a scan or photo of the piece(s)/exercise(s) that your child is learning that would be really helpful because I can then display them on the screen to be able to highlight and point to things. During the lesson pupils should still read their own sheet music though, not the screen.
- For the lesson, use something with a fairly large screen e.g. computer/tablet. Phones will work but the screen size isn't ideal if I share sheet music.
Connect your device directly to the router if you can (wired not wireless).
Make sure nobody else in the house is gaming or streaming videos - this is really important unless you have a really fab internet connection.
- Make sure you are set up and logged in to Skype/Zoom at least five minutes before the lesson time. I will call you, so just wait for the call.
Set up the camera so I can at least see the fingers, and ideally the face too. Don't point the instrument at the camera otherwise I can't see properly and the sound won't be great. I don't need to see the music in the camera shot (but see the comment above regarding sending me the music).
Have a pencil on the music stand ready to write things on the music if required.
Ask your child to talk slowly, and to listen carefully, in case of any latency issues. For younger children also remind them that they need to focus on the lesson, not on their own face, and not fiddling with any settings!