With schools closed for the foreseeable future, music lessons have also moved online. The good news is that online teaching is a solid alternative to in-person teaching, provided that you prepare ahead of time and take the necessary precautions. So, in this post, I would like to outline four tips for teaching online music lessons:
1. Plan the flow of the lesson ahead of time
Online lessons can be a little different from in-person lessons. It would be a really good idea to prepare the flow of the class beforehand. For instance, for a 30-minute class, you can start with 5-10 minutes of review. Then, move on to teaching new material for the next 10 minutes. The final 5-10 minutes can be used to practice the new material and answer any questions. Your plan does not have to be super detailed, but it will give you a clear sense of how the class will be structured. There should also be some wiggle room in case there are delays or last-minute problems.
2. Pick a quiet space
Teaching at home can be tricky especially if you have roommates, family, or if you live in a crowded house. Outside noise such as laundry, vacuum cleaners, and loud conversations can be detrimental to your concentration and the flow of the class. For this reason, make sure you are teaching in a quiet space. If finding a quiet space is not possible, then you can also talk to your roommates or family to arrange for you to get some quiet time. Conflicting schedules might happen, so communication is key to make sure everything runs smoothly.
3. Be prepared for distracted students and prepare some activities
Some students are easily distracted during the lessons when they are at home, as they are not in a ‘school’ environment. So you might have to adjust and mix up the learning material. For younger students, you can try games.
For older students, you can take a break from the lesson and talk about something outside of the immediate learning material, such as their current favorite music, what they have been up to being at home, or what their practice routine has been like.
4. Finish with an actionable item
It is important to keep your students motivated between the lessons, and to give them something to look forward to. It would be great if you finished the lesson with a clear, actionable item until the next lesson. This can be anything from “practice X song until the next lesson,” or “play the C major scale in two octaves at 80 bpm.”
Additionally, you can also shoot a quick five-minute video outlining what you’ve done in the lessons. This is so when they are practicing they will have a video as a reference point. This will give the students a clear sense of what they need to do and how they should be practicing.
From elementary schools to universities, effectively almost all educational institutions in the world have moved to online teaching. For music, it might be challenging to teach lessons online at first. However, teaching music online is very much possible and a rewarding experience for both the teacher and student.
In terms of pros, with online teaching, there is no commute and your costs are far less. Also, you can share digital material such as screen shares, song samples, and backing tracks much easier. In terms of cons, it may be harder for students to focus on the material and there is less wiggle room for improvisation of lesson content.
So, by following these four guidelines, you should be successful with your online lessons. Good luck!