Our experiences of working with Zoom

The online platform has proved itself over and over again to offer flexibility, creativity, safety and intimacy in musical interactions, whether they be one to one lessons or group sessions.

Ruth Phillips, cello:

“The advantages of lessons on zoom are many. First and foremost we, as human beings, feel comfortable and safe in our own space in a way that we often do not in an impersonal teaching studio. I have found students online able to take risks and experiment in new ways- by moving away from or turning off the camera, or muting themselves for a few moments while they explore an unfamiliar movement or expression, allowing them to make quick break-throughs … the ‘limitations’ of zoom also provide us with new opportunities, taking the focus away from the perfect sound production we as musicians are so obsessed with and shifting it to gesture, intention and somatic experience. This has been a revelation to me as a teacher and I have found problems much more swiftly solved as a result of this change in my attention…”

Participant feedback:
“I’ve tried several teachers on-line and have found that Ruth’s interpersonal skills, intuition, and natural inclination for listening allow her to teach brilliantly in this capacity. I’ve grown to be so comfortable with these video lessons that I forget we are not actually in the same room together.” Amanda, amateur cellist, New York.

Sophie Renshaw, viola:

“Online teaching has proved to be an excellent platform for analytical work -both of the physicality of playing an instrument and of musical scores – as well as encouraging free improvisation and creativity because of its versatility. I encourage students to send me audio/video recordings and also to practice with pre-recorded audio files that I send them. This forms a good basis for meeting on zoom to explore music from two ends of the spectrum; freedom of expression through improvisation on the one hand and detailed analytical study of the music on the other.”

Participant feedback:
“Sophie has negated the challenges of teaching on zoom by asking questions, noticing nuanced physicality and highlighting the importance of harmonic understanding … after I explored my expressive voice through various improvisations, I felt a heightened connection between my technical execution and expression.”

Lucy Russell, violin:

“Zoom lessons encourage a different kind of connection – one which is more concentrated and more intimate than face-to-face. This platform offers an intense learning experience without leaving your home, whether you live in Korea or down the road!…Whilst teaching , I am able to lean into the camera to show close-ups of any musical or technical point in need of clarification and I can record all the lessons on request so they can be used for future reference.”

Participant feedback:
“At the beginning of this pandemic I thought (zoom lessons) would never be comparable to in-person lessons but I was mesmerised by Lucy Russell’s capacity to make them interesting and productive. She managed to help me with my issues with physical tension when making sound and gave me support very regularly…The lessons became my main reason to be motivated during this difficult time and with Lucy’s help I managed not only to avoid losing shape on the instrument but to actually solidify and develop my own musical identity.”

Liz Dilnot Johnson, composer:

“The level of interaction and communication working on zoom has surprised and delighted me. I’ve discovered that zoom allows different things to happen in my creative sessions. It can allow each person their own space to explore privately before having to share ideas back … our physical warm ups on zoom encourage a much freer and a wider range of responses … having break-out rooms where 2 or 3 people can work together in small groups, gives people a chance to work creatively in a more intimate way.”

Participant feedback:
“I was particularly struck by the depth of emotional connection in the instrumental playing when I arrived; no doubt due to the way in which you set things up. Really embodied and emotional playing.”

Zoom session with Liz Dilnot Johnson

Mairi Campbell, traditional musician and theatre maker:

“I find Zoom is great for witnessing. Very special encounters can happen online, as we’re all discovering.   Interplay has a lot of wisdom and experience of working online and bring playful and surprising ways of making stuff up together.  I look forward to bringing that to the ceilidhs and classes.”

Particpant feedback:
“I recently took part in one of Mairi’s online workshops with my staff team. It was a fantastic morning, full of fun! Mairi held us in such a relaxed and creative way that she seamlessly opened out possibilities for creating playful embodied and dialogic space in our online ‘boxes’. I loved her use of different forms and media to enable integrated experiences over Zoom; it was accessible and fun. So much so that at some points I forgot I was working online! One of my colleagues commented that something 3D had happened that morning and that sums it up well. It felt important for our staff team to share this experience as all of our work is now online, and I also came away feeling that I had resources and confidence to try new things out and expand into an online space in a playful way.” Nicky Haire, music therapist and violinist, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. October 2020.

“I felt connected again! I laughed, I sang, I made music with my body, and that seemingly forgotten feeling of togetherness rose back within. We were one as a group, the screen forgotten, the distance between us not so felt. How I wish we could do it again, just to remind ourselves that we are indeed connected. A huge thank you to Mairi for giving me an experience I didn’t think was possible online.” Stuart Watson, music therapy student, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. October 2020.

Zoom session