Music can seem like one of the harder subjects to teach through an online platform, as it can seem harder to convey the concept of music and the intricacies of certain instruments from a distance and through a screen. However, with technology being as advanced as it is today and the ability for tutors to connect with even more budding musicians than before, teaching music online can be a great prospect for both tutors and students.
Here are some tips on how to make your online music tuition the best it can be:
Before your lesson
Preparation is key, especially with online music lessons as sound and visuals are crucially important, some key factors to consider with lesson prep are:
Choosing the correct hardware
With music lessons your best option would be to use a laptop or similar device, as you will have a larger screen to work with, which will be crucial if you needing to analyse how a student is working with their instrument, and you will also have the freedom to move the laptop to wherever works visually and audibly best with the instrument you are teaching.
Headphones (preferably Bluetooth to avoid being restricted by a cable) will be very beneficial when it comes to listening to students as it will cut out feedback and remove the risk of students being able to hear themselves back on a delay.
You are unlikely to need any extra speakers or microphones for teaching your lessons online, as the ones in-built to your laptop or other device should provide a good base level, you won’t be able to record an album with them, but they should provide a good level or sound for teaching.
However, if you do choose to use extra speakers for your lessons, it is important to remember that your microphone and speakers need to work well together, so spend some time experimenting with levels and positioning to avoid any feedback occurring.
As sound is so crucial to the success of your online music lesson, it is important to set up a space where you can teach free from distractions and external sounds, if possible try to set up a dedicated lesson space, a quiet space which you can shut the door on and avoid disruptions from other people or outside noise.
Lighting is also very important for your lesson space as your student will need to be able to clearly watch you demonstrate any instrument techniques and methods you want to show, whilst being able to easily follow along. Likewise, lighting is very important on the students' side of things, as you will need to be able to clearly analyse their work and progress using the instrument.
You are going to want a lesson space that will give you enough space to comfortably use both your instrument and your laptop cohesively, with your laptop being able to be in a position that allows the student to clearly see and hear you and your instrument, you don’t want the microphone to be too close to you when playing your instrument as this may distort the sound.
Get to know your student
With lessons in creative subjects, such as music, you have the opportunity to create a lesson that matches the students personal interests and tastes. Therefore, it is extremely useful to use the messaging feature on the Tutorful website to get to know your student and find out more about the student and why they want to learn music.
You could also use the new Free Video Chat function to have a free 15 minute chat with the student before committing to any lessons. In this chat you could try and find out their favourite genres of music, some of their musical inspirations and what some of their personal targets are in relation to music.
In order to save time in your lesson, you should provide any backing tracks, links or worksheets to the student prior to the lesson and ask them to have these ready with them before entering the lesson.
Before entering the classroom, you'll be prompted to do a browser test. You'll first be taken through an automatic check of your browser, microphone and camera, where you'll be asked to give permissions to your browser to use the microphone and camera on your device. Once completed, you'll then be able to make sure that your camera, microphone and speakers are working - just check the boxes once they are working. You can use this time to experiment with the best positioning for both your laptop and instrument.
During your lesson
You should avoid playing along with your student as there is likely to be a delay in sound, and also you will be able to hear yourself back through the students speakers, so to avoid this give your students a backing track they can follow along to.
The best way to keep a student's focus is to try and keep explanations to a minimum where possible and create the lesson in a way in which it involves the student playing and practicing as much as possible.
Revolving your lesson around material that the student will enjoy, no matter their expertise level, will keep the students engaged and keep them excited for learning music online.
After your lesson
Develop a plan for practice
For students to develop their learning further it is important for them to practice outside of the lesson, especially younger students. Therefore, you should try and develop a practice plan for after each lesson with your students, provide with a guide on which days they should practice, how long each practice session should last and what the goals of their practice sessions are. This will help students keep on track with their development.
Keep in touch with your student
Keep in touch with your student to see how their practice is going and also make sure to prepare them for your next upcoming session with any materials they will need for that lesson.