Music on the Hill Gives Virtual Lessons

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Children get ready to take ukelele class masked outside at Music on the Hill. The hula hoops are used keep students socially distant.

Music on the Hill (801 D St NE) opened in 2013 and functions as a specialty music store that features music lessons for all ages and ability levels. The studio was providing lessons to more than 300 people  each week before the pandemic hit in March.

The store features a selection of handpicked products, and specializes in string instruments such as guitars, ukuleles and mandolins. The store also rents out middle and high school band instruments such as saxophones and flutes.

Owner of Music on the Hill, Lindy Campbell, said that above all, community is the most important thing to her business.

“We’re a community store and Capitol Hill is full of of kids who are learning to play and adults who are lifelong hobbyist players,” she said.

Campbell moved all music instruction online starting March 25 and has been conducting virtual lessons for her students since. While Campbell emphasized that virtual instruction has been beneficial for her students, she is working hard to make it possible for them to return to her studio as soon as possible.

Campbell and her staff have been working on a construction project in her upstairs studio to make in-person lessons available again. In order to make COVID safe classrooms the school replaced walls with plexiglass so that teachers and students can maintain a safe physical distance. Campbell says that this is safe because there will be “absolutely no possibility of aerosol going back and forth between them.”

Teachers and students use newly constructed rooms to hold in-person lessons while social distancing.

Campbell emphasized that these changes are temporary as she looks forward to a time when in-person instruction can resume without these plexiglass barriers.

“I just knocked holes in the walls, when this is over, I will refill them, and it will go back to normal,” Campbell said.

Campbell said that despite the changes, “our retention has been really good. I feel incredibly grateful for my teachers and my students.”

In addition to the Zoom lessons, Campbell also hosted several preschool ukulele group sessions over the course of the past several months. She said that getting creative with logistics has been a big part of navigating through the pandemic.

“I moved the class outside, and just bought hula hoops,” Campbell said. “I space the kids and we did ukulele class right outside the store. That was very successful, and I’m really looking forward to coming back with that in March when it warms up again.”

Campbell said that she is “extremely proud of the COVID precautions (they) have taken” including switching out air filters to hospital grade, the inclusion of free standing HEPA filters in the store and limiting access to a single party at a time for shopping. Campbell also frequently conducts sales over Zoom and provides free delivery to homes on the Hill.

“I’ve tried to hit every single possible way for people to shop so that everybody has access, because I think music is essential right now,” Campbell said. “I think it’s essential for mental health, it’s essential for learning, (and) we’re stuck in our house all winter long, and we need a ukulele.”

You can learn more about Music on the Hill at (www.musiconthehilldc.com) or by visiting their storefront Monday through Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with HillRag. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at [email protected].