While Covid-19 pandemic forced many music teachers online for the first time, it was business as usual for this teaching studio. As reported back in 2009 by the New York Times, Laurel Thomsen, an internationally touring violinist, violist, composer, recording artist, author, and a private lessons teacher and workshop string instructor for nearly 30 years, became a pioneering music teacher when she added an online lessons option to her already robust in-person teaching studio of beginning through advanced level violin, viola, fiddle, and cello students. Laurel saw a need and found a way to deliver, with the same quality and success as she experienced in-person.
Online violin, viola, fiddle, or cello lessons via Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom are a convenient and effective form of private or group instruction for beginners through advanced players of almost any age. They allow dedicated students around the world to learn from talented teachers they may not be able to access locally, even in metropolitan areas, let alone in small towns and remote regions.
Curious, determined, and perceptive, Laurel found she was able to troubleshoot playing problems, instruct beginners, and help students interpret and polish their Classical repertoire, audition material, or their fiddle tunes, just as gracefully in online lessons via Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom as she would have with an in-person student. The idea of helping someone sound better, have more confidence, and feel more comfortable and at ease in their playing, sometimes literally on the other side of the planet, quickly had Laurel hooked on teaching via Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom, and had her online students hooked as well.
Taking their violin, viola, fiddle, and cello lessons via Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom, also seemed to have an interesting and positive effect on the students Laurel usually saw in-person as well. Instead of taking a break from teaching lessons while on tour, Laurel was able to transition her in-person students online and keep up their regular lessons schedule from the road. She noticed that many of them were suddenly more focused and engaged during the lessons. Perhaps they were inspired to see her out there performing for the world, traveling to different places, playing concerts and holding workshops, or perhaps they were simply more used to the sights and sounds of being at home?
Laurel's final test was finding out whether it would be possible to teach young children online. Early on, the parents of some 3-5 year olds living in remote regions, contacted her about lessons. She decided to give it a try. Laurel found that with parental help during the lessons, these students were able to learn to play just as smoothly as the average in-person student, in some cases with more success, likely attributed to the fact that parental help during lessons meant more parental help with practicing during the week as well. Those first little ones Laurel taught online are now becoming teenagers and still take lessons with Laurel!
Now over a decade since she first started offering a virtual lessons option, technology and internet speeds have steadily continued to improve worldwide, and over 90% of Laurel Thomsen’s students are now scattered around the world, living on every continent except Antarctica. Ranging from 3 years old to seniors, and beginners all the way up through students auditioning for conservatories and orchestras, preparing for music exams, performing with touring bands, or performing at Carnegie Hall, her violin, viola, fiddle, and cello students are making serious progress each week via Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom!