Even during a global pandemic, Laura Schactler has never stopped giving music lessons from her Selah home. Primarily conducted over FaceTime, her lessons are an anticipated event in the homes of many students around the area.
The arrangement clearly isn’t ideal, but everyone was determined to continue their lessons. As Schactler put it, “They said ‘Please, please, keep doing lessons,’ because kids really didn’t have anything else to do.”
Schactler has been offering private violin and piano lessons for over 25 years, which has made her a well-known name in the Yakima area’s musical community. She currently has 16 piano students and seven enrolled for violin, all while also working as a paraprofessional at Selah Middle School. Many of her music students have gone on to achieve high positions in orchestras and ensembles. Emma Fischer, for instance, a senior at Davis High School, is the resident concertmaster of the chamber orchestra there.
Bella Lee, a freshman at Selah High School, has been involved in the musical universe for some time now, and she’s been refining her skills during quarantine. Lee has been working diligently on singing with some of her friends, and is in her first year of taking violin lessons from Schactler.
“After COVID began, we did two, maybe three weeks of lessons at home,” Lee said. “And it was on Zoom, and we kind of struggled figuring it out. One person wouldn’t have the right audio and it would mess up the whole Zoom class. It’s really difficult to have a lesson over Zoom, especially because the teacher isn’t right there and can’t give you direct corrections and feedback.”
“Students have to be more responsible with gathering information from their teacher now,” she said. “They really have to listen and use problem-solving skills to find their mistakes. I can’t just point to the music anymore.”
Schactler usually hosts piano and violin recitals every spring for her students. Her 2020 piano recital had to happen over Zoom, as musicians and their families gathered around their various devices to listen to everyone’s performances.
“Laura has allowed us to start coming back and experience face-to-face lessons, and it’s really nice,” Lee said. “It’s such an important thing that you know exactly what you’re doing, and I think it’s really great that we get to go in person.”
Schactler started hosting in-person violin lessons a few weeks after the pandemic began. Equipped with masks, and with personal music stands set up a proper 6 feet between her and the students, the music teacher is providing an outlet to kids during a time where there isn’t a lot to do.
“It’s incredible — I’m so proud that people are still going,” Schactler said. “There’s so much music to be made in the world.”