Remote Instrumental Music Coach

By John Gardner

ClarinetI’ve worked with this particular band director before. He teaches in a small school in a rural part of Indiana not blessed with an abundance of instrumental specialists to help his students with private lessons.

A few years ago, I travelled to his school for a workshop and master classes. Effective, but cost me a day and him travel expenses, etc.

I’ve worked with individuals preparing for solo and ensemble contest via Skype.

Here’s our current plan for several students preparing for solo festival in a few weeks.

Step 1

Students scan their solo part and make a video of themselves playing it. Those are sent to me via the band director. Students self-conscious about a self-video can send an audio only file. The reason I ask for video, however, is because part of the judge sheet includes variations of stage presence. It also helps me see embouchure, finger position and proper fingerings (chromatic, trill, alternate, etc).

Step 2

I watch, listen and make critique via audio, video or by note — and send back to the student via the band director.

Step 3

After they have had a chance to review and react to my comments, a Skype session is scheduled individually with each student.  Students use the teacher’s skype account and set up in the band office at their school. I would only consider a skype session from the student’s account or from his/her home with parental permission and supervision, i.e. in the area — not necessarily in the video.

Depending on the time of day and my personal schedule, I will set up in my high school music office or library — or from home.

I basically charge as if for private lessons.

I specialize in clarinet and saxophone, but can help critique any instrument for directors who have too many participants or not enough time.

Here are my posted instructions  and Policies for ongoing, systematic instruction.

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17 yrs experience as a high school band director. 14 yrs as college adjunct faculty. 30+ yrs in the fundraising industry and 24 yrs as a small business owner. (Don't add all those up.). Experience in both the fundraising sales and education worlds give me a unique combination of perspectives in both. I love working with the youthful enthusiasm of today's teenage achievers and with those who work with them. Also 4yrs as proprietor of, which offers a wide variety of virtual services including web/blog design/hosting/managing, social media management (scheduling posts/tweets for maximum impact and brand enhancement) and small business consulting - specializing in school product fundraising.

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