Here comes the second part of the Coach on a Couch special: “doozzoo on board a ship.” Ric Engelhardt is musically versatile on stage and in the background. He started early to take advantage of and possibilities of online music lessons. On his regular cruises as an ocean pianist, Ric always takes his students via doozzoo. In this part, Ric talks about his preparations for teaching at sea, his setup, and much more! Listen now in German language or read the English summary.
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Do you have a lesson plan ready for your students?
Ric: “Honestly, no. I haven’t prepared anything along those lines. I’m not a fan of rigid lesson plans anyway. I’m constantly checking in with each student to see where we are, what would be good next, what they need, and where we need to reinforce things.
You have to prepare but differently. First, all the sheet music material must be digitized, labeled, and entered into the doozzoo media library orderly. This happens permanently. There is a separate folder for each student. For cruises, there’s no need for more preparation, as I’m constantly putting together my media and getting new material. It is enough to do it little by little and build an extensive repertoire over time. So my advice would be to start and stick with it too!
Now I’m not someone who has hundreds of songs in my head. So I’m already a reading and lead sheet guy. So when cruising, I can skip sitting down for a week and copying any sheet music or lead sheets into my iPad. I’ve had those things laid out for me for years. So, in the beginning, you must get a little material base. Add to that, for example, new songbooks as PDFs, so I always have something new for myself and also for people.”
How do you rate online music lessons and those digital tools in terms of the future and development of music teaching?
Ric: “I see it positively because I also use it in face-to-face classes. There’s no distinction between ‘we’re online with doozzoo’ and ‘we’re seeing each other for real.’ For example, when I have my music school day in Berlin and go to the piano in my room at school, I always have my computer with me. Whether I do the lesson with someone online or offline is similar.
Sometimes people say just beforehand, ‘I can’t make it by train’ or ‘I don’t feel like it, I’d rather stay home.’ Then we still have everything there [online]. But also, when the student is in the room with me, I use the doozzoo software and all the tools I have with you. I have a metronome that is always accessible no matter where I am – whether we’re online or both sitting at the piano. I put the laptop up and have a note displayed or play an audio file. That’s a real advantage of doozzoo that it’s so all-encompassing.
You’re in this one system, and you have everything from audio, PDFs, sheet music, a keyboard, and a tuner, to a metronome. You can also record something. We can play something, record it and then put it in the student’s folder. Then, at home, he can listen to it again at will. I don’t see any limits at all.
As I said, the student can also use it at home. It’s an over-room with all the materials and also the metronome. I do love this audio player. I’ve been using apps for many years where you can change the pitch and speed. You also want to practice just a targeted section sometimes. You can do that with the loop function. It’s necessary for practicing. Not too long ago, that was an enormous processing power you had to accomplish with tools like Logic. No audio player could take that on in real-time and calculate it on the fly.
Playing slower is a motivational thing. If you can’t play a piece at its original tempo, you set it to 80 percent for the time being. That’s fun and motivating. No matter whether I’m sailing around Iceland or sitting here in Berlin, I always use doozzoo. So many things that you can use in music lessons are directly integrated there. Everything is in one place. That is also an advantage for the student. They don’t have to search for it and install anything because doozzoo is browser-based. So technically, it’s not a problem for the students.”