If you are a music teacher or student who is switching to online lessons for learning an instrument, you might want to think creatively about how to spend that online lesson time. You can certainly benefit from the traditional lesson setting of one-on-one teaching, but you can also take advantage technology to do things differently, if you wish. For example, you can exchange videos, communicate in writing, exchange useful links to video and audio clips, or do written assessments. You can also use a combination of ideas, depending on what you need to learn or to teach on any given week. Here are some examples of kinds of online lessons, to help inspire you in your online learning. And please feel free to share your own ideas in the comments below!
This operates like an in-person lesson, with everything through the screen. Read the Practicalities of Online Lessons blog for tips. Students (or parents, in the case of a very young student) will take lesson notes for themselves, write down assignments for next week and fill out other things such as required practice charts.
Combination Interactive and Pre-Recorded Lesson
These days, many older students spend a portion of their lessons videoing the teacher demonstrate. During online lessons, this can be impractical, so the teacher can designate either the first or last portion of the lesson as "recording time." The teacher can create those recordings on their own device, upload the videos to YouTube or another platform, then email the link to the student. The interactive part of the lesson, where the student plays for the teacher and the teacher gives immediate feedback, would be slightly shorter as a result, so that the total time of the lesson plus the recording time would add up to the same as one regular in-person lesson.
In situations where a live interactive lesson isn’t possible, a pre-recorded lesson can provide a lot of value. In this situation, the student performs and records everything on his or her assignment sheet from the previous week and sends video(s) via a mutually-agreed-upon option to the teacher. During the student’s regular lesson time, the teacher views and assesses the student’s playing and provides written feedback and assignments for the next week.
This could actually be the most valuable thing for some students to do. Students record themselves practicing for a period of time (about a third to a half of their lesson time) - or for younger students, the parent would record a practice session with the child. The student or parent sends this video to the teacher, then teacher watches the video during the lesson time. Then teacher then provides an assessment of how effective the practice was: what was going well, what needs to change, and offers new practice strategies and methods to be tried the following week.
Academic Music Lesson
The academics of music are an important part of the curriculum in conservatories and pre-professional music training programs around the world. In some of the most elite schools, exams in these subjects are part of the admissions process! Understanding the intricacies of music theory and knowing the important historical and cultural context in which classical music was created adds depth, maturity, and sophistication to a student’s study and eventual performance of a work of music. A teacher can create written theory assignments and worksheets that can be sent via e-mail, as well as assigning relevant history readings. These can be an important enhancement to a student’s musical education - and can put them well ahead of the curve for future success.
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