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Art enthusiasts turn to virtual lessons amid pandemic

Online teachers suggest investment on distance learning as world hit by novel coronavirus outbreak

Aise Humeyra Bulovali   | 20.03.2020
Art enthusiasts turn to virtual lessons amid pandemic


As the novel coronavirus continues to roil the world, social and cultural activities have ground to a halt but for filmmakers, actors and musicians resisting the virus by continuing their work online.  

Conductor, pianist and composer Turan Manafzade has begun giving piano lessons via video call. 

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Manafzade said that he and his mother, decided to switch to distance education, as they need to find a quick and practical solution for health concerns over the pandemic. 

Manafzade, who has been a music teacher for the last 13-years, said: "Today, all the major universities and conservatories of the world have started online education.” 

Turkey has so far reported four deaths from COVID-19 with 359 positive cases, according to the country's health minister. 

All sports events have been suspended with people urged to stay indoors as much as possible. Restaurants and cafes, meanwhile, remain open for delivery and takeaway orders only. 

On Thursday, the Turkish education minister said the country was prepared to institute distance education as online and broadcast school lessons are slated to launch on March 23 as part of measures against the novel coronavirus. 

Manafzade recommended distance education for everyone has not tried it yet. 

"As a musical family, we have always believed that the power that heals people and the world is music and art and that everyone should include art in their lives," he added.

- Live from US to southern Turkey

Ayse Sahinboy Dogan, chief editor of Kulis (Backstage), a Turkish magazine on theater, is also giving online lessons on playwriting through various channels.

"From the U.S., we are able to meet with my students in [Turkey's southern province of] Gaziantep live and do text studies," Dogan said.

Dogan teaches a total of seven people per class, each of which last eight weeks.

"From day one, when both my students and I experienced the feeling that we were gathering around a table and chatting, I thought: 'Here is our new platform'," she said.

Now, Dogan is planning to launch new classes on writing plays for children, as well as for digital playwriting.

According to Dogan, distance learning is very important not only to recover from crisis periods, but also for those who cannot reach educational facilities in big cities.

- Online learning: An opportunity

Abdulhamit Guler, writer and film director at the Istanbul-based Hassan B. Sabit Cinema Academy told Anadolu Agency that he had around 100 students in different workshops.

Guler said applications and interviews were done online: "Young people are already getting used to this system because they live an online socio-cultural life."

The current situation should not halt our work, he said adding: "Life goes on and we should be alive."

"Plus, the online system is one of the educational methods of the future," he said.

According to Guler, online learning will be an opportunity especially for those who cannot access opportunities in remote parts of the country.

"Anyone sitting in their home in Turkey will be able to participate in lessons in the U.K. or China," he added.

Underlining that audiences as well as producers should be prepared for new channels in the film world, Guler said online elements would come into play in every field of art in the future and investments should be made on these new platforms.

The global death toll of the novel coronavirus has exceeded 11,000 as scientists begin trials for a vaccine. Italy has surpassed China as the outbreak's worst-hit country with 4,032 deaths.

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