“We’re in this together.”  Those are popular words during this unpopular time. I think a lot about our students at The Cappelli Institute of Music, most of whom have transitioned to lessons online via Zoom, FaceTime and Skype. Our online lessons are going very well and I think it is just the thing to keep us all interested in each other’s progress, giving us enough to work on until we are able to get together in person again for the more familiar lesson format.                 

I often ask my students how school and classes online are going (or have been going).  They usually answer that they would rather be in class, at school-but it’s OK.  Some of the classes are pre-recorded and some have a teacher in a live setting.  For our lessons, teachers are at their home instrument and closely interacting with students at their online music lesson. Our next recitals will be online.  We will be shut out of our work for weeks to come and the public probably will not be ready to gather in more public settings (like recital halls) for some time.  An online recital offers the opportunity to continue to be goal-oriented and gives something special to anticipate.

I decided the other day that though I like to stay busy and have found lots of things to keep me busy at home, there was nothing new.  I walked over to the large banquet table that I set up near my piano, on which has all the music I need, to continue with my students’ online lessons.  I decided that I would learn the first piece that I turned to from the first volume that I picked up. It was late at night and I was tired. “A deal is a deal,” I thought to myself; I would need to follow through on this personal promise.  I was to grab a book, open it and learn whatever it was that I had turned to, provided I had not learned it at a previous time. I DID cheat a little in inclining my hand to the column of books (organized alphabetically), to be sure I grabbed one from the “Chopin” column!  In the row of books were Etudes, Preludes, Waltzes, Ballades, Mazurkas, Nocturnes and a few miscellaneous pieces of sheet music. Waltzes, as it turned out, the complete collection.  I used my thumb against the pages of the book and it opened randomly to the front, several pages in. After the commentary pages it turned out to be the 1st Waltz in E Flat, Op. 18.  I love to play Chopin and even though I find myself only days from reaching 62 years old, I had not ever played this well-known work.  Perfect for the gloomy Covid-19 days at home, a celebration of music by a great master. Refreshing and uplifting, playful, delicate yet robust- a Grande dance for the soul!  On the first evening I learned the notes; in the days since I have practiced it to the point where I can hear that it is beginning to improve a bit at a time, with consistency.  My goal (which feels something like a New Year’s resolution), is to have my new piece in good shape, memorized and fully playable when the current veil is lifted, and we can get out again. I will have something new, something I didn’t have when it all started. Something to enjoy for the rest of my life along with all the other great music that I DID learn in the last 62 years.

I sense that this time is difficult for most people.  We cannot get out to do the things we would prefer to be doing.  Parents are with their children more than they are used to and children with their parents perhaps more than they would otherwise choose to be.  Malaise sets in with a feeling of hopelessness if one only focuses on the drumbeat of news of sickness and death.  We need things to lift our spirits and to shine a light on our inner abilities.  Music is just one of those things that we all love. Learning something new is always good; now I think it is especially important.  It’s a very good life and even though we are now stuck inside, we are not stuck as far as the future is concerned. 

Learn a new piece of music!  Music is good for life, especially when it comes from within.  It’s a wonderful goal and a great way to turn this down time into an up time.