PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Some things, like teaching, are more difficult when you can’t be face-to-face.

Imagine trying to teach a student how to play the clarinet or how to sing if you are far away.

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That is precisely what student teachers face this spring.

“Teaching people how to teach others how to teach music — it’s indescribable,” said Dr. Kathy Melago of the Slippery Rock University Music Department.

Alaina Stroud is a graduate of Hopewell High School in Beaver County. She is now a senior at Slippery Rock University. It is obvious how much she and fellow SRU senior Nathan Turley love to share music with students.

“Finding the pathway to help them learn a concept, whatever that takes you, and you’ve got to try, even if that means teaching it six different ways,” says Turley. “That commitment and that persistence, to see your students succeed, is probably one of the most important traits that you’re going to have as a teacher.”

Turley and Stroud are more than just friends from the SRU marching band. They are also college seniors doing their student teaching in music education in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ve learned so much about technology, which I feel like I should know a lot more than I do. But now I’m definitely proficient in a lot of areas of it,” Stroud said.

She says that has allowed her to teach during this trying time when it might not otherwise have been possible.

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“I made a musical Jeopardy recently and I made that really interactive. There’s listening exercises, there’s things to keep kids up on the curriculum, still while having some kind of fun technology game,” Stroud said.

Turley agrees that it has been tough – but rewarding.

But Dr. Melago says the class of 2020 was ready, thanks to something they have been doing at SRU since 2015.

“My students are paired one-on-one, with students in the public schools, to teach lessons,” said Melago. “We’ve been doing this for five years, and it runs their full junior year.”

Turley is confident it will help soon-to-be-teachers prepare for whatever they face in the classroom.

“This is going to really set this class apart. Because we’ve sort of been handed a set of circumstances that are not ideal. We’re not able to go in every day and interact with the kids and teach them in person,” Turley said.

Melago adds, “They’re developing skills that no other student teachers ever would develop.

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So from afar — via Zoom, Skype or Facebook Live — they sing, play, and teach the next generation while they learn.