When live lessons were cancelled and moved to online platforms a few months ago, violin professor Yehonatan Berick sprang into action and generously offered free lessons to students in his studio, in the community and worldwide, until the end of the current crisis. “These are extraordinary times,” he explains. “Not unlike being in a conflict zone - people’s lives... are threatened without an end date in sight. I felt that in order to battle the sense of isolation, we have to support each other … For a music teacher, it is to teach, support, encourage, and even console. For music students, that means a regular lesson that would give them something to work for and to look forward to.”
Berick is clearly turning the global pandemic into a positive educational experience, enabling students to expedite their progress even before the next semester commences. After a back injury in 2015 left him teaching remotely from home, he was able to explore the art of virtual teaching in depth -- not just from a technological but also from a pedagogical perspective. He explains that while there are definite drawbacks to online teaching such as sound quality and lag, “certain elements actually become clearer, and you might realize some aspects about your student that were otherwise camouflaged.”
Such an act of generosity is not isolated for this particular full-time professor – he has established a reputation of being very engaged in his students’ lives and of fostering a positive, supportive community. Finally, when asked what he thinks the lasting effects of the pandemic will be on the classical music field, Berick expressed optimism that the thirst for live performance on the part of the public will only grow and that musical collaboration will be highly sought after once the health crisis is over.