Because of the current pandemic and Health Ministry restrictions, one of the safest places to make music is online. Pianist and educator Dr. Michal Tal has stepped in to organize and present Israel’s first online piano festival, the International Piano Web Festival, from August 18-25. The Jerusalem Post spoke with Tal about the festival, who told us that all activities will be online (lessons, master classes, lectures, discussions and movement classes) and open to audience members via the Internet.“The PianoWebFest is all about international, online communication,” explained Tal, who teaches at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music at Tel Aviv University, the Jerusalem Music Center, and the Givatayim Conservatory. She is also a sought-after teacher and judge at music festivals and master classes worldwide. “I developed the idea for the online festival in consultation with a team of young people who are current and former students of mine. In addition to their outstanding musical proficiencies at the piano, they are also skilled tech-experts, website builders, creative marketing minds, and fine web connoisseurs. Without them, nothing would have happened.”Something is definitely happening now, and the schedule and website for the Piano Web Festival is up and running. More than 30 active students have signed up from Israel, China, the US, Germany, Italy, Korea, Holland, France and Russia. “Each has submitted a video of their playing,” explained Tal, “and they play well. There is no age limit to participation, and we look forward to welcoming them.”The PianoWebFest is also welcoming a cadre of teachers and lecturers who are faculty members of the world’s esteemed music conservatories and universities. “When I started asking my dear colleagues from around the world to cooperate, I was so happy that they overwhelmingly agreed to take part in this festival,” said Tal. “They are eager to teach, communicate, to give of themselves, and converse.”The teachers are from Israel, the US, Europe and China. In addition to conducting master classes and lessons, they will give a series of lectures for the full week of the festival on topics ranging from piano pedagogy, tone production and practice techniques, as well as lectures covering artistic techniques to bring one’s music-making to a higher level.Tal said that the frustrating state of the world’s health is also as a time for growth and development.“A crisis can make you more creative,” she explained. “The coronavirus takes you out of your comfort zone, forcing you out of your rut. It gives you blocks of time that you can control, rather than the clock or calendar controlling you.“Suddenly the musician has the freedom to study without stress or a deadline on a great repertoire that they never had the chance to play. First of all, because, in truth you do not have a deadline, and second, one finds out that every day is a deadline in itself.“I believe the teaching via Internet has given me the opportunity to be more articulate, pinpoint and use precise vocabulary terms, and helped me develop a different tone and body language. For the student, I think new technology has fostered more independence and more concentration performing in front of the screen.”Further details about the piano web festival are available at pianowebfest.com.