The win – win for brick and mortar music stores to allow teachers to migrate to online lessons during COVID-19

A thought for the brick and mortar stores considering if online lessons are a wise choice right now.

I know brick-and-mortar locations are deathly afraid of the whole online lesson paradigm. Managers are often quick to point fingers at “online lessons” for “ruining their business”. But yesterday, one store I stopped by had already lost students since the start of business that day. The students called in, “wanting to wait until this virus thing blows over.” No teachers had tried to shift gears, as far as I was aware. Another store has some teachers asking to take leave of absence and not come in.

Keeping lessons “in person” isn’t going to work. When I made my decision to drag my whole studio online, I did so because I asked a sampling of 20 students for their voices in helping make the decision. When they contacted me, I was made aware of various situations at home. It didn’t take many messages before it solidified the decision for me that going online was the best choice.

When I told my lesson coordinator at one store I was migrating to online lessons, he was irritated for a second. “How are they going to pay us?”

“They are going to call you to run their credit card. Or mail a check. And I’m going to check in every Saturday and give you a ledger of who canceled, who had a lesson, and who had a no-show. This way everyone is accountable, including me. And I can pick up my check or you can mail it to me.”

The store keeps their cut of the money to pay the rent, helping keep the venue open…another important aspect in this argument. We don’t need to lose more stores and locations that anchor a local music scene. But we do need to come to agreements that keep all parties working.

He looked at the board of student names behind him. It had gotten leaner.

I started pointing at names and calling out time spots so he could see what I saw.

“That one is taking care of an elderly mother. That student already has a respiratory issue just from seasonal allergies that requires using a nebulizer sometimes. Those two have immunosuppressed systems for various reasons.”

I stopped, his eyes were wide, scanning the names on the board. He was seeing the backstories that further humanized the names on the board. Many of my students were automatically in the higher risk demographic due to age or because of health issues.

He turned to me, “If going online helps retain them, that’s a better choice than just staying the course.”

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