Above: Eden Casteel. Below: Wendy Jones.
We are so thrilled you two will be part of the upcoming Winter Workshop with your session, “Cure it! - Successful Treatments for Painful Online Pedagogy.” Who will benefit from attending?
Eden: Anyone ready for some fresh inspiration!
Wendy: Anyone who is tired or lost hope in need of some inspiration to keep going.
That seems like everyone right now! From the perspective of the teacher, what has been the most difficult aspect of teaching online during this year?
Wendy: Convincing colleagues that the online experience can be done and done well and that the online teaching experience, although different, can be very fulfilling.
Eden: The most difficult aspect of teaching voice online in a pandemic is adjusting to change. It’s learning what you can and can’t do, and adjusting again. And again.
Sure, what about from the perspective of the student, what do you suspect has been the most difficult aspect of receiving online lessons this year?
Eden: Singers dread frustrating, unproductive, screen time. They already have plenty of it. Everyone misses performing live in with people. Online lessons can bring some of that connection back and be a refreshing respite from the status quo.
Wendy: My private and collegiate students have all loved the lessons and many have preferred aspects of them over in-person lessons. The ONLY complaint I've heard is, “I wish I could sing with a live musician/pianist,” to which I reply, “you can if you want to invest the time and some $$.” Not one private student has missed a lesson this fall (which has NEVER happened before), and there have only been three absences with my college students — one for a death in the family and two missed lessons when the internet went down. Otherwise, online lessons have cut down on absences.
If I’m a teacher and dislike this online world because it’s “just not the same,” is there any chance you two can help me change my mind?
Wendy: Yes. Absolutely. I did an ensemble 100 percent online and have a video clip to share of what was accomplished. If it does not inspire you, I don’t know what will. We BOTH have proof of the fun and satisfaction that can be had teaching online.
Eden: You’re right. It’s just not the same. I’ll be happy to show you some options that have worked for your colleagues. But if you want “the same,” you’ll have to get in the DeLorean and go back in time. Move forward.
Since one of the pillars of this year’s Winter Workshop theme is “self-care,” tell us, how do you define it? And what do you do for self-care?
Eden: Self-care does not always mean indulgence with candles and bubble baths. For me it’s seeking pleasure and joy in music, even without an audience in front of me or beside me. I listen to music differently than I did at the beginning of 2020. It’s deeper. Connecting and playing music live online with professional colleagues is one of my forms of self-care.
Wendy: I think I need to attend the Winter Workshop to figure out what to do here because I am NOT good at this at all. This is an area in which I need to work.
Can you give us a sneak peek of what you’ll be sharing at your session?
Wendy: We are hoping to inspire by SHOWING attendees examples at the session instead of only talking about HOW. We will take time for questions on some of the “hows” toward the end of the session. It is NOT our plan to overwhelm teachers with what equipment to buy and how to operate everything since it is all very personal. We plan to inspire by addressing the cures we discovered and showing them to teachers. We then want to encourage teachers to embrace a growth mindset and set out on an adventure!
Eden: What Wendy said. The pandemic has been life-altering and not always in negative ways. We’ve experimented with different tech in our studios, and we’ve also upgraded our teaching philosophies. Our students benefit! We’ll have case studies, diagnoses, treatments, and outcomes: A college teacher, an ensemble teacher, a pro singer. At least one of us will be wearing scrubs. TL;DR: We’re hopeful, and we have proof.
Anything else you would like to share about your session or the workshop?
Eden: You’re not too tech-phobic, too old, or too broke to improve your online teaching! Be inspired by the successful experiences of real teachers. Protect yourself and your studio from COVID-fueled atrophy by taking “The Cure."
Wendy: Developing your online teaching skills will not only completely mitigate your chance of catching COVID from teaching in your studio, but it can expand the reach of your teaching. And if you're like me...you'll discover technology CAN be conquered even if you are not a "tech" person and you just might find some things you'll keep using even after the pandemic.
Watch this fun video from Eden and Wendy below.
Learn more and register today for the 2021 Virtual Winter Workshop.