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New Year, New Options at the SFE Music School

Paul Douglas, the Head of the SFE Music School and Deputy Head of the Music Service reflects on some interesting developments in the Music School for the future, drawing on the positive experience of moving online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The SFE Music School had been looking at the possibility of offering online music lessons for adults and children for some time. The idea was about to be trialled when the Covid-19 pandemic surged into the UK in March 2020.

There was no choice but to move swiftly and within a few days all Music School teachers had all been set up and trained in online delivery.  Fortunately, online platforms such as Microsoft Teams were quickly updated and improved at the time, and the SFE Music School made an effective transition to Online with over 85% of pupils continuing online and having a very positive experience.

The musical progress of online pupils has been excellent and what was first perceived as a huge challenge turned into a massive success story, with over 97% of students renewing their subscription for another year.

The Music School has dynamically responded to the situation further, as it seems that online is now here to stay in music education, at least in part for some students.

From September 2020, the SFE Music School will offer both Online and In-Person 1:1 lessons, as well as a unique Flexi offer that offers the best of both the In-Person and Online experiences.

Here are some pointers to help understand which one might work best for you:

In-Person Lessons 

Ideal for those looking to develop good posture, basic techniques, as well as finer details and nuanced playing. Duets with the teacher and a sense of routine and discipline are big pluses. The teacher can help with the setting up, tuning, maintenance and minor repairs of instruments.  For most beginners and/or very young students, In-Person works best.

Online Lessons 

These work well for those who may otherwise have to travel a considerable distance to get to a centre, are still shielding, need a little flexibility and are self-motivated and have some experience.  It’s easy to share resources and recordings immediately.

In the right circumstances, Online Lessons are an efficient and effective way of accessing music tuition.

Flexi Lessons 

With this unique package, the student comes to a Music School centre once every few weeks to get an arranged In-Person lesson with their teacher but the rest of the weekly lessons are Online.

Some students have a clash of activities on a particular night, so having the In-Person lesson infrequently only causes minor interruption of this routine, but it does mean that they still get the specialist help they need.  Students get the best of both worlds, being able to work on different things in different settings.

Author Bio: Paul Douglas

Paul Douglas is the Head of the SFE Music School, and Deputy Head of SFE Music Service. He joined the Music Service in 2006 as a Keyboard, Piano and Brass teacher. He has conducted various ensembles and was SFE’s Head of Ensembles from 2014-2019. As well as being involved in numerous recording and live music projects over the last 35 years, Paul has had various books and educational music published.

For more information about SFE Music School, visit our website or email us at

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