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Zoom – My Lockdown Lifeline

06/08/2020

It seems like a lifetime ago when Covid-19 plunged us all into isolation, quarantine, lockdown or whatever you call this reclusive condition.

Uppermost in my mind was how would I keep up with my regular violin lessons. I prefer to have a schedule and deadlines to work to.

Thankfully, the problem was solved by my neighbour’s son Jack. Jack is a bright lad who’s reading English at Oxford. He posted notes through letterboxes around our close inviting the little community to join in a weekly quiz via Zoom. With some help from the computer-literate people next door we joined in and the online quiz has been going on ever since.

At the very same time my violin teacher, Peter Best, came up with the idea of regular lessons on Zoom. Before retirement, Peter was Director of Musical Training at the Royal Marines School of Music. He’s a superb violinist and a knowledgeable and patient teacher. Because we have been desk partners in the Portsmouth Light Orchestra and the Meon Valley Orchestra he knew all my considerable faults already.

Lessons by Zoom have proved to be very useful indeed for both of us. He can see and hear me and vice versa. If I stand at the right distance in front of my laptop he can see immediately if my posture is not one hundred per cent correct. Dropped wrists or wrongly raised elbows are starkly revealed.

By having his own copy or the music in front of him he can also spot any discrepancies between what I’m playing and what is actually written. Although the tonal quality is not absolutely perfect it’s good enough for Peter to pick out when any notes are not as in tune as they should be. Conversely, he can demonstrate how things should sound on his own instrument.

For some inexplicable reason, Zoom seems to bring everything into sharper focus than reality itself. It’s a very business-like arrangement. However, the use of video does not allow us the play duets as the sounds are out of synchrony. It’s a shame, as this is something we both enjoyed. This is the only drawback I can find with Zoom.

It’s about ten miles from my home in Fareham and my teacher’s house in Southsea. So, from now on there’ll be no worries about traffic or parking. Until the “all clear” from this dreadful virus is sounded I’ll continue to learn and, hopefully, improve through Zoom.

Author: Stuart Reed

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