Years ago, my mediocre piano teacher didn’t show up for my class, even though we were meeting at her house. I heard she did it to others too. Phooey on her. I can get America’s best teachers online, and they’re cheaper.
According to a 2020 report from Thumbtack, the average in-person piano teacher charges between $40 and $100 per hour. I just got 36 lessons for $25 from TheGreatCourses.com during one of their major sales. Using CapitalOneShopping.com’s free Chrome extension, the price dropped to $18. The equivalent of a live teacher would have cost between $1,440 and $3,600.
My online teacher, Pamela Pike, won Louisiana State University’s Outstanding Teacher Award, among other honors. She is fantastic. I start each digital lesson by wedging my phone or tablet where I would normally put a sheet of music. This way I can see her play and play with her. I can pause or rewind if needed.
The course, “How to Play the Piano”, starts at square one. You could stand it, even if you’ve never touched a piano before. In the first lesson, you’ll improvise on the black keys while Pike plays an accompaniment. Then you will play an easy version of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. It’s amazing how much fun playing the piano is with the right teacher. At the end of the first lesson, she plays an excerpt from the song you will play at the end of the lesson. It’s extremely advanced. But she pulls you in so slowly, using numbers instead of notes at first, that you’re halfway there before you know it. TheGreatCourses.com also features guitar, violin, and ukulele, among hundreds of other topics.
CALLER ID BLUES
A reader wrote to tell me about a caller ID issue his girlfriend was having. After retiring, she was able to keep her work phone, but it still displays the medical group she worked for. If this happens to you, contact your carrier and tell them you want a new display name. That’s all we can say about it.
AMAZON PLANTS A TREE
I said to Alexa, “Alexa, grow a tree,” and she did. After checking in with me and asking for my voice code, she took my $1 and donated it to the One Tree Planted organization. Amazon is donating $1 million to plant 1 million trees where fires or mines have ravaged the land, or erosion has made life difficult for salmon.
To block or unblock someone on Facebook, type a name in the search bar on Facebook.com or in the app. When the person’s profile appears, tap the three vertical dots to the right of their name. Choose “block” if you no longer wish to receive messages from them. If you change your mind, click on the three dots again, then “unblock”.
If you’re listening to music or watching a video on your Android phone, you can cast it to the TV by tapping the icon that looks like a little rainbow surrounded by a box. Up appears a list of places to stream to, if you have a smart TV or smart speakers such as Google Home or an Echo device with Alexa.
WINDOWS STARTUP TIP
If your machine won’t boot into Windows, here’s something to try. Turn off the machine three times in a row, with this simple action: each time you turn it off, press and hold the power button for 10 seconds. After the third time, you should get the “Automatic Repair” screen with advanced options to enter “Windows Recovery Environment”. More about it on Reviewed.com. See “How to enable safe mode in Windows 10 -11”.
Most people never leave the iPhone universe for Android. But Android phones are “far superior” at organizing apps and adding useful widgets, according to CNN Money. Here’s how to change.
Search Google’s “the Switch to Android” app or visit android.com/switch. The app prompts you to install Google Drive on your iPhone if you haven’t already. Then tap “settings” and “backup”. This way, everything on your iPhone will be transferred to your new Android phone. Additionally, you will need to turn off FaceTime and iMessage on the iPhone for your messages to start landing in the messaging app on your Android.
If you’re tired of having a boatload of CDs you never listen to, consider digitizing them. This makes it easy to create long playlists.
To get started, you can just pop a CD into the drive and let Windows take over. But when I did that, I ended up with a lot of music files without song titles. I prefer the free “VLC Player” from videolan.org. Launch the program and click “Media”. Then choose “open disc” and then “audio CD”. Now click next to the word “play” and select “convert” instead from the drop-down menu. Finally, choose your music folder as the destination.
When you want to line up hours of music, navigate to “File Explorer” in Windows by typing it into the bottom left search bar and clicking it when it appears. Find your music folder. Right-click on an album and choose “Add to VLC Playlist”. Keep doing this with other albums until you have your playlist. VLC will play one album after another.
Govtrack.us aims to make Congress accessible. Search for an issue and you will find all invoices related to it, as well as its sponsors and relative progress.
Joy Schwabach can be contacted by email at [email protected]