online lessons

As we transition to teaching our music lessons online while our local schools remain closed, you might have concerns like:

  • Will this really be like regular in-person lessons?
  • Is it even possible that online music lessons can be as good as in-person lessons?
  • Why should we continue lessons when things are so unsettled and uncertain?
  • Don’t online lessons just mainly benefit the teacher financially?
  • What should I expect at my first few online lessons?

These are all valid questions, and here are a few thoughtful answers we invite you to consider.

Will virtual online lessons be like regular music lessons?

When it comes to learning new music and receiving guidance in how to practice, it will definitely be similar! But the ways in which the teacher will make these things happen may look different. The student will continue to polish current pieces and learn new music just like before. But your teacher will be adapting how they teach concepts and introduce new materials.  The same creativity and resourcefulness they tap into for in-person lessons will still inspire their online lessons!

Thankfully, since thousands of teachers are temporarily moving to this mode of lessons (and hundreds of teachers were already doing this prior to 2020), your teacher also has a whole community of guidance and ideas to help them adapt.

But think about it! What better way of managing stressful circumstances than to manage it through making music?!

So not only is it helpful to continue lessons, but it is also part of becoming and staying healthy during this difficult time. It’s so important for students to have an artistic and expressive outlet during these uncertain times!

Is it possible that online lessons can be as good as in-person lessons?

Judging by the number of teachers and platforms that taught online music lessons before the COVID-19 crisis, the answer is yes!

Now, that’s not to say that in-person lessons don’t have advantages, because they do. But there is no reason to believe that online lessons can’t be as effective as in-person lessons. As a matter of fact, online music lessons have some particular advantages:

  • The online lesson allows the teacher to see how the student interacts with their instrument at home.  The teacher also gets a peek into the space where the student is practicing on a daily basis, and that can be very insightful!
  • In some ways, they can be better! The online music lesson requires that the teacher interact differently with the student. Since they cannot point to the page, they often find themselves asking more questions and lecturing less…which is always a good thing since it engages the student even more.
  • Online lessons can actually improve a students’ level of responsibility and thus increase their progress since the teacher will not be able to write in their book or write down their assignments for them (though they might email them). Requiring them to make their own marks in their books and writing down their own assignments will help the student remember their assignment better and practice more effectively from week to week.

Why should we continue music lessons right now when everything is so unsettled and uncertain?

That’s a great and truly a fair question. When times are uncertain, routine is extremely helpful in calming our anxieties. This is especially true for children.

Routine can be one of the most powerful things in regulating our anxieties and your child has probably been taking lessons long enough that the regular routine of weekly lessons and daily practice will be a tool in helping them manage their uncertainty.

In addition to the weekly lesson with your teacher, daily practice is also a routine that helps children and adults. It occupies their minds and gives them something for which they can set goals and see improvement.

Plus, children need more than just parents to help assure them that things are going to be okay. Your music lesson teacher is one of the most consistent people in your child’s life, especially considering that most kids have the same teacher year after year. Continuing lessons is like giving the gift of another adult that will not only help assure them that it’s going to be okay, but that will help them use music as therapy in this troubled world.

Doesn’t this just mainly benefit the teacher financially?

Continuing in lessons will, of course, help your teacher continue to make a living. They depend on this income and you continuing to take lessons will help them. But I hope that you can see from the above answers that this is in no way just about the teacher making a living. Your teacher is making this switch to keep you safe, to keep themselves safe, and to make sure that you are continuing to learn how to play music beautifully.

There is absolutely no reason why online music lessons will not continue to help the student make progress!

And considering that thousands of teachers around the world are now giving lessons online (many of which were doing this long before this global pandemic), this is a very normal course of action that should in no way impede the progress of the student.

What should I expect in my first few online lessons?

Be ready to be flexible! Things won’t go perfectly in these first online lessons, but both you and the teacher will adapt and in a few weeks, you’ll adjust to the new normal. Here are a few tips as you transition:

  • Be ready to spend some time making sure that the camera or device is placed just the right way to help the teacher see the student’s hands and your face. It’s most helpful if a parent can be in the room for at least the first 10 minutes of the online lesson to help position the camera.
  • Do all you can to make the room quiet. It’s amazing what the microphone on a phone will pick up, so if you have other children running through the room or another conversation going on the phone even in another room, this can be a big distraction for the student.
  • Be flexible in these first few lessons and in particular, during the first few minutes of each lesson. There are always adjustments that have to be made, and flexibility is key.
  • Make sure all the books, assignment book, and a pencil are handy. The student will need to make marks in their own notebook and write down their assignments, so giving them what they need to do this is important. If you have a younger child or child that is easily distracted, it’s especially helpful if you can be present for the entire online lesson.
  • Remember that the sound on a phone or mobile device is delayed and will be somewhat distorted. Sometimes you can adjust this by not using a headset, or using one, or using a speakerphone, etc. But even with the best of devices, the sound will be a little delayed and may not be perfect.

We are excited to embrace this new adventure of online music lessons with you as we eagerly anticipate new levels of connection and progress that we will be able to make with each of our students here at PCS.

– Adapted from ComposeCreate.com with special thanks to Wendy Stevens

March 21, 2020
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