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#2015707 - 01/16/13 06:48 PM Lessons over Skype ?
edhamgtr Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/12/13
Posts: 3
Hello all,

I'm interested in taking lessons over skype and was wondering how effective teachers are finding it.

I'm a professional musician (guitarist) and have always wanted to become a proficient pianist. Skype would save travel time and potentially connect me with a great teacher.

Your comments and opinions would be greatly appreciated as well as any recommendations for skype teachers.

thanks!

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#2015807 - 01/16/13 09:51 PM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
Scott Coletta Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/11
Posts: 514
Loc: Chicago
I find teaching over Skype to be really good for the most part. I've been doing it for almost 2 years and the only challenge with it to me is just the occassional tech glitch. But I think it depends on the teacher. Some say it's too limiting, which I can understand if you are really concerned about tone, dynamics, and other things that are affected by the "digitization". I think it's best suited for adults who are primarily into popular stuff... jazz, blues, etc. and for those at a level where self-evaluation is fairly reliable. And it's certainly important that the teacher is very good at explaining things since demonstration is somewhat limited.

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#2015824 - 01/16/13 10:43 PM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1778
Loc: Pennsylvania
I have been doing Skype lessons, off and on, for a few years and believe in it when you cannot find a suitable teacher locally. I think I would rather have a local teacher but I like working with jazz stuff and I am finding it difficult to find a really good jazz teacher in my locale.

It is also very nice to be able to have the lessons right on your own piano and also not having to travel to the teacher's studio.
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My current system: Kawai ES7 + Focal CMS40 Powered Monitors, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, Mackie ProFX8 Mixer, Ravenscroft275, True Keys American Grand, Ivory II American Concert D, Steinway Basic, Galaxy Vintage D, True Pianos, Pianoteq, Alicia's Keys

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#2015989 - 01/17/13 08:15 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
There are pros and cons to it, but I would recommend that you first study with someone in person, then when you get the basics you can do Skype. There's a lot of hands-on technique work that really can only be addressed in person.

I get to see my Skype students during Christmas and over the summer months, so I can address issues then. Of course, it's not as good as meeting with them in person every week where I can tackle those things right away. However, if there's no other option, it is better than nothing. But I stress that it should be a last resort.
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#2016179 - 01/17/13 02:39 PM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: Morodiene]
UrLicht Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 51
Loc: Farmington, UT
Quote:
There are pros and cons to it, but I would recommend that you first study with someone in person, then when you get the basics you can do Skype. There's a lot of hands-on technique work that really can only be addressed in person.


It's hard for me to imagine what a Skype lesson would be like. Do you feel like you waste a lot of time getting your camera (I assume camera and not a phone or ipad) pointing in the right direction so you can observe technique, etc? It seems to me like there would be a lot of fiddling involved.
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#2016323 - 01/17/13 08:17 PM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: UrLicht]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1778
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: UrLicht
It's hard for me to imagine what a Skype lesson would be like. Do you feel like you waste a lot of time getting your camera (I assume camera and not a phone or ipad) pointing in the right direction so you can observe technique, etc? It seems to me like there would be a lot of fiddling involved.


Not really. You make sure you have the right things available to enable you to place the webcam where you need it. Then you just do it. I usually place the webcam peering over my left shoulder and down at the keyboard. My instructor says it is perfect. After that, I just play and the instructor talks. Occasionally he will demonstrate something for me to see on his keyboard. It works very well.
_________________________
Don

My current system: Kawai ES7 + Focal CMS40 Powered Monitors, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, Mackie ProFX8 Mixer, Ravenscroft275, True Keys American Grand, Ivory II American Concert D, Steinway Basic, Galaxy Vintage D, True Pianos, Pianoteq, Alicia's Keys

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#2016431 - 01/18/13 12:07 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: UrLicht]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: UrLicht
Quote:
There are pros and cons to it, but I would recommend that you first study with someone in person, then when you get the basics you can do Skype. There's a lot of hands-on technique work that really can only be addressed in person.


It's hard for me to imagine what a Skype lesson would be like. Do you feel like you waste a lot of time getting your camera (I assume camera and not a phone or ipad) pointing in the right direction so you can observe technique, etc? It seems to me like there would be a lot of fiddling involved.


I have my laptop on a table to the side of the piano so students can see the keys. Sometimes I need to show them something I'm demonstrating (vs just playing it) in which case I just move the laptop to a better angle for that. For the most part, however, once you figure out a good overall angle then you stick with it.

When I started teaching Skype, I allowed and extra 15 minutes in between each lesson to accommodate technical difficulties. After a while, however, this became unnecessary.
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#2016530 - 01/18/13 05:28 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: Morodiene]
davefrank Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/09
Posts: 672
This is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'm now doing about 70% of my practice with Skype and it works great and allows folks in "non-jazz" parts of the world to reach their dreams..

I recently had a visit in NYC from a skype student I worked with from New Dehli, whom previously I knew only from skype teaching. When we met in person, i saw that he had come as far in one year through skype as any student I ever had had come from live lessons.

smile

Dave Frank


Edited by davefrank (01/18/13 05:28 AM)

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#2016605 - 01/18/13 09:44 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10349
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
My son works with a professor at a distant university via Skype. This is on Baroque flute, mind you, not piano.

It's a godsend, despite its limitations. The limitations are obvious. Tone is distorted, so that part of musicality, which is quite important on a woodwind, cannot really be addressed. Secondly, duo playing is impossible due to the delay. Likewise, this is more important on a woodwind than on the piano. Lastly, the details of hand technique are clearly harder to deal with via video link than in person.

Despite these drawbacks, the opportunity for direct instruction from an expert overwhelms the drawbacks.

In our case, the limitations are eased because we occasionally pay the expense of going "there" for some face-to-face instruction. The combination of the in-person work together with Skype lessons has led to amazingly rapid progress.
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#2016620 - 01/18/13 10:16 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Is this Piano*Son? Who is also now Baroque*Flute*Son? (And did I notice you mention that he's also Harpsichord*Son?) And your other son is French*Horn*Son?
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#2016624 - 01/18/13 10:25 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10349
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
No, no. P*S is still the one who plays piano and horn. Flute*Son is the one who has picked up Baroque and Celtic. In fact, it's F*S who may wind up conservatory trained. The irony was noted by F*S himself a few days ago. smile
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#2016635 - 01/18/13 10:35 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Ah! It's lovely to hear about so much music in Piano*Family.
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#2016715 - 01/18/13 12:52 PM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
I started teaching through the internet last month, and it's worked quite well. I'd offered free lessons here as an act of kindness, but I was definitely surprised to discover how well it worked out.

Although the audio dropped sometimes (and there was a bit of disortion), all of the students found the lessons helpful. (If you look in my past posts, you'll see a thread that I started for online lessons; I think there might be some lesson feedback that you can look into there.)

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#2017032 - 01/19/13 01:17 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
plbpusa Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/18/13
Posts: 10
Loc: FL USA
Interesting, lessons over Skype... Never imagined doing that, but good idea. smile

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#2017515 - 01/19/13 08:33 PM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
lechuan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 180
I take a mix of lessons over Skype/Facetime and in-person lessons with my teacher. It works very well, assuming both sides have decent internet connections. The only things that I've seen so far that don't work too well is duet playing (impossible due to the delay).

What I'd really like to do is find a way to hook up a MIDI piano to an onscreen keyboard to make it easier for the student to see/record what the teacher is playing when they demo. Does anyone know of any software that does this?

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#2017587 - 01/19/13 11:16 PM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
One issue with Skype is that dynamics are pretty much negated. I usually request students change the settings in Skype so that it doesn't automatically adjust for variations in volume, but with those are not less technically savvy this can be rather difficult to accomplish. Of course, with this then you end up with distortion on louder notes.
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MTNA member
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#2017686 - 01/20/13 06:58 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
Larry C Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/27/12
Posts: 17
Loc: Naples, FL
I too have used Skype for lessons ... normally I take lessons in person at my teachers studio, but when I am gone for extended periods I use Skype and it works pretty well
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#2018724 - 01/22/13 12:55 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Actually, I've used Facetime too; it works better (I find) when both people have Apple devices.

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#2018728 - 01/22/13 01:13 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
Chad F Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/25/12
Posts: 15
Loc: Vancouver, BC
I've built a platform specifically for online piano lessons and am slowly working on getting all of my students online.

I agree with Dave, video lessons are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Maybe even the greatest thing (education-wise) since the printing press, sheet music and recordings.

Here's a recent news article about teaching piano online http://www.burnabynewsleader.com/business/185951131.html
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Web Academy of Music

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#2018862 - 01/22/13 08:43 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Chad, two questions for you, if I may. How do you deal with things that are not computer-friendly, such as correcting theory work or technique work?

I also find that a lot breaks down at the end of the student, where they may have less-than-ideal hardware or a slow internet connection. Do you have minimum requirements for your students, or do you just make the best of it and let the student know that the issue is on their end?
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2019042 - 01/22/13 01:24 PM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: Morodiene]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Chad, two questions for you, if I may. How do you deal with things that are not computer-friendly, such as correcting theory work or technique work?

I also find that a lot breaks down at the end of the student, where they may have less-than-ideal hardware or a slow internet connection. Do you have minimum requirements for your students, or do you just make the best of it and let the student know that the issue is on their end?


And to add to that: are you using Skype, Facetime, or some other software?

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#2019135 - 01/22/13 03:50 PM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: Morodiene]
Chad F Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/25/12
Posts: 15
Loc: Vancouver, BC
Hi Morodiene, good questions.

Quote:
How do you deal with things that are not computer-friendly, such as correcting theory work or technique work?


I convert everything to pdfs and post them to their page so they can print them out and work with them (if we're not working from the same book). Then part of the lesson is spent reviewing the exercises. I give students the option to scan or take a decent snapshot of their work and email it to me ahead of time if they want to maximize their lesson time. Working on technique is just a matter of getting them to position their camera in the right spot. I always recommend an external usb camera so they have some positioning options, but you can get away with a laptop camera and a music stand or a table/stool beside the piano.

Quote:
Do you have minimum requirements for your students, or do you just make the best of it and let the student know that the issue is on their end?


Yes, I've got a button within the site that runs a series of tests on their computer and internet connection and will determine how well it will work for them and make recommendations for a better experience. I've also built in an 'audio only' button which can hide the students video and/or the teachers video. This works well if the there is a bottleneck in the connection and the video starts to lag. It also helps encourage students to use their ears. Afterall, that's what it's all about! smile
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#2019146 - 01/22/13 04:08 PM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: Bluoh]
Chad F Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/25/12
Posts: 15
Loc: Vancouver, BC
Hey Bluoh,

Quote:
And to add to that: are you using Skype, Facetime, or some other software?


I've (with the help of a couple of top-notch developers) built video conferencing into the web application (which is built with Ruby on Rails). It works just as well as Skype or Facetime and it all happens in the browser without any downloads. This is great because it enables everything to be in one place and I can optimize it for learning piano. For example, I've built a 'piano view' which makes the viewing screen longer and narrower so students can get a closer look at what the fingers are doing. The typical 4:3 or 16:9 ratio is not ideal for pianos because you have to have the camera so far away in order to get all the keys in. The platform isn't 100% perfect (yet!), but I love teaching with it so far. My goal is to make it easy and convenient enough to get some of the best teachers and players in the world using it (baby steps, baby steps. smile ).
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#2019516 - 01/23/13 08:55 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Chad, I'd love to try it out! Is it live yet? I'd love to be a beta tester if you need one wink
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Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2020704 - 01/24/13 08:27 PM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: Morodiene]
Chad F Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/25/12
Posts: 15
Loc: Vancouver, BC
Hey Morodiene, yep it's live now. I'll Direct Message you.
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#2020841 - 01/25/13 12:45 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Hey Chad, sounds interesting-- I'd love to try it out too. smile And I just noticed that you're from Vancouver. smile

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#2038313 - 02/24/13 07:41 AM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
RonR Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/13
Posts: 21
If you find the right teacher, and the lessons are planned and well organized, it can be very effective. There are advantages and disadvantages. The 2 biggest advantages are: 1 - You can record the lesson via your laptop with recording software, so if you didn't understand something or forgot something you can go back and review the lesson. 2 - Convenience. The biggest disadvantage I find is when the teacher is demonstrating something it, may take a little longer because of the visual limitation. I found and incredible online teacher, that emails me a lesson plan right after the lesson, which details everything he wants me to work on during the week. He also goes way over the alotted time as long as he doesn't have another lesson immediately after mine. He feels the extra time spent makes up for any technologoical limitations. I doubt every teacher would do all the extras, but if you are fortunate enought to find someone that is passionate about teaching and music as I did, I think you will succeed.

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#2038477 - 02/24/13 02:39 PM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Hello all,

I'm interested in taking lessons over skype and was wondering how effective teachers are finding it.

I'm a professional musician (guitarist) and have always wanted to become a proficient pianist. Skype would save travel time and potentially connect me with a great teacher.

Your comments and opinions would be greatly appreciated as well as any recommendations for skype teachers.

thanks!

As a professional musician, you are half way there because you can read music. Skype is aweome because some of the best piano teachers are in Russian and Skype can be anywhere on the planet. While skype can save you traveling time, guitars are carried in one hand and keyboards with 88 weighted keys keyboards are 30 pounds and are awkward to carry. I am not sure how Skype students pay for their lessons over the internet, especially in foreign currency but perhaps you have some experience. Good luck and best wishes. A piano is also an awesome instrument to learn and play like the guitar.


Edited by Michael_99 (02/24/13 02:40 PM)

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#2038513 - 02/24/13 03:35 PM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: edhamgtr]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1194
Loc: London UK
You must be much more fortunate with Skype than I am! When there's serious work to be done, I usually end up giving up and making a 'phone call.

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#2038534 - 02/24/13 04:19 PM Re: Lessons over Skype ? [Re: Michael_99]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5902
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Michael_99
Hello all,

I'm interested in taking lessons over skype and was wondering how effective teachers are finding it.

I'm a professional musician (guitarist) and have always wanted to become a proficient pianist. Skype would save travel time and potentially connect me with a great teacher.

Your comments and opinions would be greatly appreciated as well as any recommendations for skype teachers.

thanks!

As a professional musician, you are half way there because you can read music. Skype is aweome because some of the best piano teachers are in Russian and Skype can be anywhere on the planet. While skype can save you traveling time, guitars are carried in one hand and keyboards with 88 weighted keys keyboards are 30 pounds and are awkward to carry. I am not sure how Skype students pay for their lessons over the internet, especially in foreign currency but perhaps you have some experience. Good luck and best wishes. A piano is also an awesome instrument to learn and play like the guitar.
Hi Michael. I've noticed that in your posts it's hard to know what's the quote from someone else and what's your contribution, so I thought it might help to just explain that if you want to quote someone else you can hit the "quote" button at the bottom of the post you wish to quote. You then get a reply box with the other post already quoted. You then just add your bit. You can also delete bits of the quote to target exactly what you're replying to. Hope this helps, because sometimes it looks like you're saying what you're actually not! smile
cheers, currawong
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