Online music lessons have been pretty common for the past few years. Many educators who have never taught online before have recently faced the challenge to adapt to their new teaching environment.
Teaching online has wonderful advantages, such as teaching from the comfort of your home. But it also has its disadvantages, such as the remote nature of teaching, which especially makes things hard for teaching an instrument. I created this post for any educator that is considering teaching online music lessons or who just started teaching online. Here are four strategies to teach an online music lesson, in order to make your lesson as successful as possible:
1. Have a lesson plan ready
One of the most difficult things about online learning is that it requires clear, descriptive instructions at all times. Since we are in a remote learning environment, students can get distracted easily. Any kind of vagueness or miscommunication should be avoided to make the flow of the class as engaging as possible. So, you should always have a lesson plan ready outlining the flow of that lesson.
For example, when you start each class, you can review the material from the previous week. Then, you can teach a new technique or a song. Having a clear flow of the class will make things easier both for you and your students.
2. Teach new material every week
To keep students interested, you should teach them new material every week. The challenge of learning something new will increase the engagement for the lessons. It’s easy to be disengaged if you’re working on the same material every single week. Whereas, if you’re teaching a new technique or a new song to your student, you make your student feel like they are getting better and progressing. This motivates the student and keeps them going.
3. Pick the right song to teach
If you are teaching complex material to an entry level student, things can get really complicated at online teaching. In person classes make it easier to explain complex concepts as you have access to a board or material to break it down, whereas in online you only have a camera and possibly a screenshare at your disposal. In this case, it would be a good idea to teach more straightforward songs to entry level students in a way that you can direct them remotely.
As for advanced students, you can still work on advanced material assuming that the students can work out various details on their own when they are practicing. If you are unsure about how your student is doing with the song you’ve picked, check in with them during the lesson to make sure they’re feeling comfortable with the level of the material. Perhaps they have a song request that they would like to learn. Taking these into account will be super helpful in the end.
4. Leave the student with clear instructions for the next lesson
An important part of online teaching is setting the expectations for the next lesson. You should leave clear instructions to the student of what they should do between the lessons. This is crucial for engagement and to maintain the student interest in the future lessons.
Moreover, having clear instructions helps students develop a routine practice schedule. Irregular practicing, or practicing the wrong way can be detrimental to the progress of a student. Remote learning makes it hard to keep the students on track with practicing, but with clear instructions, this can be managed easily.
The two big parts of online teaching logistics is camera angle and internet connection. First, make sure you and the student have good enough internet connection to have a lesson that does not get interrupted. This is crucial for the flow of the lesson and to keep the engagement at a maximum level.
The second is the camera angle for the lesson. For guitar and ukulele classes, make sure that the camera angle is in a way where you can see both hands. If you are seeing only the right hand of the student, this doesn’t help much with chord voicings. For piano, the camera angle would work best sideways, as you can see both the keys and also the posture of the student.
So these are the four main strategies to teach an online music lesson. Every student is a new challenge in terms of creating the best learning experience online, but there is a method and strategy that can be tailored for everybody. As you will teach more, you will notice that there are more than four strategies for teaching online, and these four strategies in this article are just a foundation to get you started. I hope that you will find online music lessons rewarding and will incorporate more online students to your rosters in the future.