Medford, MA — LB Music School opened its third location just about a year ago, mere months before the pandemic forced businesses across the country to close their doors.
While many businesses were not able to make the adjustment to this new virtual reality, LB Music did.
“We had been preparing through the beginning of March that we could end up somehow online,” Lauren Bateman, the founder and owner of LB Music said. “We were preparing teachers and testing the technology already. So when the governor had the business shut down, we instantly called everyone and were like ‘this is what we’re doing; we have to go online. We’re still able to provide lessons for you if the format works.’”
Now, more than 7 months in, LB Music has been able to keep about 70% of its students in this new online format. And while teaching music over Zoom can never be quite as good as teaching it in person, Zoom music lessons do have their advantages.
“We have a lot of people who are staying online for convenience reasons but obviously there’s people who are staying online for health reasons as well,” Bateman said.
Weathering the worst of the storm, their doors opened once again in July, where they pivoted slightly to a new offer of a hybrid learning experience.
“We have about fifty percent of our students online, and about fifty percent coming in person,” Bateman said. “When we reopened in July, we did have some of those students come back, but we have a lot of students who like the convenience of Zoom. Anyone who wants to come in person, awesome, we’re opening our doors. But obviously, everyone has to wear a mask, we have dividers, we’ve eliminated our waiting room essentially. So it seems to be working out well. And I feel like it’s something we’re going to keep as part of the curriculum and as an offering at the school going forward.”
Adapting to this new world of Zoom calls and remote living has more advantages than just convenience. The music students across the nation who now find themselves without a teacher are finding LB Music to be an attractive and convenient choice, owing to their virtual presence.
“We’ve gotten a lot of students not inside Massachusetts,” Bateman said. “A lot of those students are coming to us because they’re looking for an option but they may not have a viable option locally. It’s very minimal but we have been getting people outside the Massachusetts area, which is phenomenal.”
Some of the teachers at LB Music — none of which were let go during this time — have been able to upgrade the average Zoom setup, implementing audio interface systems and multiple devices to create a more immersive experience.
“We were, fortunately, able to keep all our employees,” Bateman said. “We didn’t have to let anyone go during COVID.”
And though LB Music has really jumped on this opportunity to reopen and continue teaching, they are not sacrificing safety. Most vocal lessons take place online. For the few that do not, the student and teacher are on opposite ends of a large, filtered room that is divided by a curtain.
Beyond Zoom instruction, this remote environment has given LB Music the chance to create and build an interactive social media presence.
“I have a few teachers who are working with me to create online platforms through Youtube,” Bateman said. “We’re trying to create an online platform right now to have students learn how to sing with some online help from a teacher.”
Looking into what many experts are predicting to be an exceptionally dark winter, LB Music is staying optimistic.
“I always try and stay as positive as possible during situations like this,” Bateman said. “The silver lining is that our reach has improved in terms of being able to do online. I think it’s provided a lot more flexibility to our students which allows us to offer a higher quality lesson experience.”
This article originally appeared on the Medford Patch