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Highlights of Coach on a Couch with Markus Faiss

In the interview, guitarist, bassist and music school director Markus Faiss talked about why he sees digital tools as an asset for teaching and how the music school benefits from them. The Bluenote Musicschool has been using doozzoo for online music lessons for some time now and has been able to expand its range of lessons enormously, attracting students from all over Germany. It was an exciting conversation with Markus, in which we learned more about his experiences with online lessons. Read a summary of the interview in this post.

From your perspective as music school director, what is the benefit of online lessons?

Markus: “It’s simply an enrichment, an additional module to the regular lessons because now we can teach people who didn’t know before whether it [music lessons] would fit into their schedule. Traffic jams, work, whatever: it’s now so much more adaptable in arranging everything. So we deliberately offer hybrid classes because every student in class with us has the right to take a class online and be present.”

What is your opinion on digital learning tools for music lessons?

Markus: “In general, I think digital learning tools make the teaching of a higher quality and are there as an enrichment. It’s still a bit of a black blox for many students and teachers. But yes, I would say that everything that has happened in the last few years, with all this Corona stuff, you have to take something positive out of it. I would say that the fear of contact with such media is no longer so great on either side. You can bring the lessons to a completely different level and enrich them. So I see it positively, so digital learning tools, I have to say quite honestly, are important and make sense for both sides.”

How have you supported teachers in teaching online?

Markus: “We really featured and helped each other a lot and hardware-wise, talked about it now and then, how does one do it, how does the other do it, and then just came up with simple hardware solutions that really work great. And that’s just how we approached the whole thing.”

What was your personal experience with online teaching, especially with groups?

Markus: “That’s difficult, especially since the community aspect of a workshop, of a band workshop, is very high up in the rankings. People want to meet somehow weekly or fortnightly, so the social aspect is always very important. The interaction is difficult. That means, of course, we had to resort to alternative solutions. I prepared backing tracks, which the students then received. They recorded themselves at home, they filmed themselves, we then cut it together again so that it would appear as if they had played together, which of course is unfortunately not possible.

So I’ll say, for all the workshops, that was more for cohesion: We get through it together. That when the lockdown, when this phase is over – no one knew how long it would last, everyone thought it would only last for a short time – that then the workshops, the bands are still there, and you can continue immediately. That was always the vision. […]

On the other hand, we offered online workshops, so not band workshops, but kind of master classes, for ukulele, for guitars, for cajon, and of course something like that works wonderfully.”

Markus’ Conclusion

Markus: “Basically, I say, let’s now add this as an added value, there is now hybrid teaching. Some people don’t want to leave home. They want online lessons. As I said, we have students from Kiel, from Berlin, from wherever, who are with us because they get along well with the teacher despite the distance, and it works great, and they appreciate that. And that’s where it works, of course.”

Your tips for online music lessons?

Markus: “I would say – you just have to dare! The word “dare,” that’s actually if you do it then you will realize, “oh, that’s not so difficult.” You don’t need a lot of preparation, you don’t need a lot of additional hardware, actually everything you have so far works. Anyone with a tablet, a PC, or a cell phone can get started.

And I just want to say try it. Take it easy and try it and deal with it a little bit beforehand. I mean, if you go into the online lesson as a student or as a teacher, and you’re not prepared, then, of course, it’s going to be stressful. Of course, you have to consider a few things: where does the sound come in, and where does it come out, where does the image appear on my device? But none of this is rocket science. If you get to grips with it a little bit, I’d say just try it out and find that it works, and then, of course, it’s fun.”

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