Making Online Teaching Enjoyable

The pandemic has been roooooough... but that doesn’t mean teaching lessons has to be.  Although, the format might take a little time getting used to, online lessons can still be successful, fun and (dare I say it) enjoyable! 


The silver lining to all of this is that students schedules have freed up. Which leaves more time for practice - (Cue Messiah music haaaaallelujah! Hallelujah hallelujah!! ).  But how do we make online lessons just as effective as live ones - so we can help facilitate that practice?

Here are five thoughts ...

GET ORGANIZED 

Have your daily schedule of music (digital or physical copies) ready to rock in roll BEFOFE starting your day of lessons.  This avoids eating up time in the lesson trying to locate books.  

I personally like to keep my method books stacked above the piano - since I used them for 3/4 of my students - and then I have supplemental literature organized by student in a spot next to me. 


Use sticky notes to mark the pages that your student is currently working on - and make notes in your personally copy of what they need to improve on. I have my students mark their own copies themselves rather than writing it digitally for them. I like this because I believe it allows them more ownership of their learning. 


HAVE YOUR OWN PERSONAL COPY OF THE LITERATURE YOUR STUDENTS ARE WORKING ON 

Having physical or virtual copies of your students music is a must when doing online lessons.  If my student introduces me to something new in a lesson that I don’t own I’ll use a picture text in a pinch. However, having the score on hand is preferred and an easy way to keep notes of suggestions you want to make for the student.

As my students play through their pieces I’ll make notes on the scores while the lesson progresses.  That way at our next lesson I’ll remember what we were working on.  

Remember to do these in pencil so you can erase them when another student begins studying the piece in the future. 



GET COMFORTABLE AND CONFIDENT WITH USING YOUR DEVICES (MAKE IT SIMPLE OR INVOLVED AS YOU WANT)

There are SO many ways to do online lessons - and a lot of them can get pretty tech savvy.  I am hoping to invest in an iPad Pro in the future and go completely digital. 

But ... for now while I work with my small studio budget I am fairly minimalistic when it comes to tech.


You really don’t NEED a lot to give great online lessons. It’s more of the quality of teaching here that REALLY matters.  So be confident in what you have to offer. 




As far as tech, I simply use my smart phone to connect with students and they typically use theirs.  I prefer FaceTime as it’s always worked well for me but zoom, Skype and/or google duo are great alternatives.  It’s a good idea to do some test runs though to make sure you feel comfortable working with the interface.  


Remember, you can always toggle back and forth with your phone on which camera lense you’d like to record with. So at times when I want to exemplify a specific gesture or idea myself I can toggle to the back camera to show them what I’m doing.


Often times when I do this I’ll place my camera in my tripod.  Which is a must to have for online lessons.  You’ll need something to hold up your device so you can exemplify ideas to the student.  Also, I require all my students to have a tripod themselves so I can get a view of them playing.  My favorite view is something like this:



HAVE ONE PARENT SIT IN ON THE LESSON 

I cannot emphasize enough how essential it is to have parents SIT IN ON LESSONS.  This is my preference even when I’m not doing online sessions but especially now it’s a must.  


The online platform can take some getting used to for students, however parents can be there to help translate and facilitate the teaching.   It helps immensely!  Student Success depends highly on the triangle of learning working at all points:




The trickiest part about teaching online is not being able to use live physical demonstration to teach.  So becoming a skilled descriptor and having the parents listen in to help explain or even demonstrate makes teaching smoother.


Even parents who don’t have a musical background can help their students! I’ve had many parents sit in on lessons and still be able to guide their kiddos.  During

the process they learn too!  It’s all win win. 

HAVE STUDENTS INVEST IN A TRIPOD TO HOLD CAMERA

As I mentioned before having a tripod is very helpful for online lessons.  Not only can students easily interface with the teacher but it frees the students to make recordings of themselves easily.  Which I love to encourage!


I have my students set-up their tripod so I can get a view that easily shows me their fingers and we can still carry on a conversation. This is my preferred view.




This is the tripod I recommend to my students. It's very affordable and does the job - not the fanciest tripod in the world but has worked out well for me.




Encourage Recordings 

Every lesson I encourage my students to record at least one of their songs if not more. This has become my favorite way of cataloging success and progress of my students for me.  There are loads of benefits to this:


  • students get practice at getting a clean recording of pieces

  • Beautiful videos to share with family and friends 

  • It records an essential part of family history 

  • YOU can share on your studio social media pages. Which inspires other students in your studio and shows people what you’re doing as a teacher!


Lately, I’ve even begun having students record ALL of their assigned pieces and I can preview them beforehand and give them my thoughts at lessons. This makes lessons much more effective and productive, optimizing on time. 


My feed is filled with my students playing and I LOVE it. As teachers this is the BEST way to show our worth. What we sell is our potential to create musicians. I can't think of a better way to exemplify this through social media posts of the work you're doing with your students.



Students, parents, grand-parents, community members and potential clients love to see videos like this. I've noticed these posts always get a lot of love from my followers but especially the parents and students. So I highly encourage recordings!


Hope these quick tips help!  Good luck with your online teaching. Let me know your tips in the comments below OR comment on my insta page.


Thanks!

To get further help click the link below to schedule your online lesson.


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