During the COVID-19 outbreak your cello/music lessons might need some adjusting.

In this post I share my experience in two parts:

  1. How I kept my teaching room the cleanest possible and safe for students and myself until I completely stopped in-person teaching.

  1. My experience with online teaching. I have been teaching online since 2014 using Zoom, and I am happy to share advice, software, material and set-up suggestions.



First steps...


The teaching room

This had been my daily routine since the virus arrived in Berlin, it might help some of you, feel free to send suggestions in the comment box at the end of the page. 

Update: I have stopped in-person teaching since March 17th 2020



  • Clean your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wash your hands before and after each student or use a hand sanitizer.
  • Clean and disinfect your home /teaching rooom to remove germs before/after each student, have a practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces like tables, chair, music stand, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones during the day.
  • Check your body temperature if you have any doubt.




About hand sanitizer:
  1. Fill the palm of your hand
  2. Rub your hands together, covering all surfaces of both hands, including between your fingers and up around your fingertips and nails (don't forget your thumbs!). Rub hands together for 30 seconds to allow your hands to completely absorb the product and the hand sanitizer to completely dry.
  1. Remove your shoes and sanitize your hands.
  2. Sanitize your phone.
  3. Remove your coat, unpack your cello etc. 
  4. Wash your hands with soap, hand sanitizer doesn't clean the hand it only kill the germs. You don't want to play cello with 'dirty' hands.


Watch a few times the video, it will quickly become a routine!


Just by the entrance door, there is a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and space to put a box of tissues. Here is what I do when I come in:

  1. I put my phone and keys on the desk.
  2. Remove my shoes
  3. Sanitize my hands with hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  4. Sanitize my cellphone and doorknob. 
  5. Remove my cello from my bag, hang coat, and...
  6. I go and wash my hands for 20 seconds with soap. For the students, I put paper towels instead of a hand towel.


Clean your cellphone !

During the lesson

  • Keep a minimum distance, at least 1.5 meter / 4 feet
  • Have a tissue box close to the music stand in case someone need to sneeze/sniff, and a trash with a plastic bag and a lid. Ask the person to sanitize his/her hands after. 

 but when in stage 2 and 3...

...online teaching becomes the perfect solution



I started teaching online in 2014, it has been already 6 years! I taught students in Japan, USA, around Europe, Mexico. As a teacher, I find important to offer the student the best quality of image and sound.
If you are new to online teaching, this post might help you to get started.

SCEPTICAL? May be because you haven't tried yet? And even if you have had a bad experience with online teaching you might find a few tips here and concider trying again. It takes time and patience, but if you follow this articile, you might skip a lot of problems...!

What you need...



  • External microphone (optional but highly recommended) I use ZOOM H2n mic.
  • External webcam with a long cable (optional)
  • a camera holder I can easily move (optional)
  • Zoom software
  • Good internet connection (if wifi, your signal should be strong)
  • Good lighting


  • Zoom software
  • Good lighting
  • Good internet connection, ethernet cable is better than wifi.
  • Cellphone, Ipad, or your computer.


Zoom v.s. Skype?

Skype is also an option but the image quality of zoom is superior to the Skype one, also you will probably face sound problems with skype, in particular with the low strings.

Zoom software for one to one is free.
To download the app: clic here




If you have a good external microphone, go to settings and set it up..


Zoom H2n mic

Set-up your Microphone as external mic, with a USB cable to your computer

3: Advanced settings 

Video tutorial

Original Sound 

When you start your video, Clic on Turn on original sound




I choose to use an external webcam because it allows me to show particular angles, I can easily move the camera closer to my bow hold, or my left arm, show the student details they usually can't see during a live lesson.

About the student, if they cannot move the angle of the webcam, I ask them to move to a right, left or back when needed.




To the teachers

  • Before you give your first online lesson, practice with a friend, how to call, if they can hear you, the level of your mic, lighting etc.
  • The first week, try to keep the same schedule as the one you have for the in-person teaching. 
  • Doodle is your friend! You can have a free Bookable Calendar. Once you have Zoom ready, send a general email to your class with the doodle, your zoom account, and the link to the audio settings. https://www.thecellopracticehelper.com/coronavirus.html#2UFbklaw 
To the students

  • When you go to an in-person cello lesson you get ready because you have leave your house etc. Be ready for your online lesson, it takes time to get ready. Plan 10 to 15min for set-up.
  • Make sure you have enough battery or have a cable ready.
  • Turn off notifications on your phone / computer


To my colleagues,

I hope this post will help some of you, it is going to be a difficult time for artists but new technologies can be very helpful with teaching and sharing music.

One more advice: do not wait until someone shows up to a lesson with fever and/or cough saying "it's just a cold", because if it is not, social distancing will most likely not be enough. It is important that we try our best to prevent this virus to spread.

It is time to experiment online teaching and performance! Let's make the web full of artistic initiatives to relieve people who need it from fear and suffering. 

Stay safe :)



Excerpt of a lesson - Beginner level

Teaching advanced - Pro level

Stay in touch!    @mariannedumascellist

About online teaching/coaching

Which Material Am I using? 

Zoom H2n as external microphone, very easy to use, it takes less than a 1 minute to plug it and have it ready.
It is a great buy for your studies and your performance as you can record all your performance with high quality sound. It is very portable and simple to use.
I will hear you through JBL Spyro Speakers.
I use Logitech Webcam c525, HD, Auto light correction , 8 MP, Autofocus. I can change angles of view easily, different perspectives of the hands, fingers, posture etc...
Which software?
We can use Skype, but I prefer to use Zoom.us , you can record the lesson, it will allow you to go back to what we worked on. 
If we are going to work regularly I will recommend you to get a good microphone if I can't hear you well.
You can use the integrated webcam of your computer. 
I use an external webcam so I can show you closer what's happening when I play, or show you posture of the hand, arm, fingering, details.