Since April/May is quiter than the other months owing to the school holidays and the reduced responsibilities that brings, I signed up for the CW Academy Level-1 classes, conducted by the fine folks at the CWOps.

The classes started from the first week of April. It was held on Monday/Thursday evening US timezone over Zoom video conference, which means, Tuesday/Friday early mornings for me. The classes involve listening and sending CW. The aim of level-1 class is to receive and send all the letters at 10 Words per minute with the Farnsworth timing of 20WPM (which means, the letters themselves are sent at 20 WPM but there is sufficient gap in between the letters that, the overall speed is only 10 WPM). We are also asked to practice listening and sending and the instructor checks on that at the beginning of every class. Practice is the integral part of the course that needs to be stressed. Learning to send and receive CW is different from, say, learning a programming language or a concept in Physics where one need to understand the underlying theory and the math to grasp the semantics. Learning CW is more of training one's hands, mind etc with more and more practice. Perhaps it is more like learning to type, but much much harder.

Our batch had five students. The instructor was a very knowledgeable person and a wonderful human by name Kate Hutton - yes, she has a wikipedia page - who genuinely wanted all of us to learn. I think I would attribute my success with the course in large part to the patience, encouragement and enthusiasm of our instructor to teach and spread her love for CW.

I found the course wonderful and at the end of the course, I felt that my CW skills have improved by leaps and bounds! To keep it in shape, I need to be practicing daily for about 30 minutes or so. We have been given practice files so that we can keep up with it before the Level 2 course starts in August/September.

I haven't made a real-world CW contact over the air after the course, but it gives me much more confidence than before to make such a contact. I can identify common words, CW conventions used in conversations etc..