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Teaching Music Online: Creative Ideas to Keep Students Engaged While Learning From Home

Teaching Music Online

Many teachers have had to pivot their businesses to virtual online lessons following the global pandemic of Covid-19. The coronavirus has forced many teachers to reevaluate and change the way they do things in the “classroom,” including music teachers.

Moving your music lessons to the online world is not easy. There are many factors that need to be considered and a lot of learning on your end as an instructor to be sure to give your students the best opportunities to continue their learning.

Keeping music students engaged is especially challenging when online teaching, as you don’t have the face-to-face interaction your students are used to, allowing you to make physical adjustments to help them improve. It can also be difficult for students to pay attention and take the lessons as seriously as they do in person, particularly if they are not used to being online.

Here are some great ways and helpful tips to continue to encourage your students’ learning with teaching music lessons online.

THE BASICS FOR AN ONLINE TEACHER

A few things to be sure and communicate with your students to continue teaching music when going virtual:

First, be sure your students have a decent internet connection (as well as yourself). If the internet connection isn’t strong enough and cuts out often freezes, or makes audio/video terrible, it can lend its way to frustrating lessons and quite possibly the student not continuing with their learning.

Another thing you can suggest to students is to have some equipment, such as a good, quality webcam. Many students can get by working with a tablet, computer, or some kind of alternative device like a cell phone.

If you need tracks for instrumental parts or demonstrative warm-ups, such as vocal exercises or karaoke tracks your students can sing with, be sure your students have a separate device that they can play those on so that you can hear the sound in their time along with them. If you try playing on your end versus the students’ end, there will always be a slight audio delay, no matter how strong the connection.

Other things to consider for your students is to be sure they can find utilize a quiet setting so that they can concentrate on you full-time during the lesson. A good suggestion you can give is for them to obtain is a good set of headphones that will help drown out unwanted distractions and noise around them.

CREATE MUSIC VIDEOS

You can incorporate your students in their very own music videos, which is not only a great way to showcase your students’ talents on social media but also a way to encourage your students to continue working hard since they will want to give their best performance.

You can use free movie apps like iMovie or OpenShot to cut and edit a simple video of them playing their instrument or singing a song. You can even splice together multiple videos with your students working together on a song, or performing a duet with you.

Depending on how well you can manipulate the audio quality and have the time, you can even go as far as to create a video with ALL of your students. The finished video can give your music students a great sense of accomplishment, and really put technology to work. Even if you aren’t tech-savvy, you can reach out to other music teachers in your social network or within your area for assistance.

OFFER SOME “EXTRA” ONLINE COURSES

No matter what platform you use, be it Zoom, Skype, Facetime or Google, all platforms lend a way to teach with video.

Besides private lessons, you can use this online tool to your advantage as a music teacher by creatively identifying ways to do group lessons with students, wherein they learn specific practices and can do so together from their own home.

Some ideas can include the following:

  1. Create lesson plans with another vocal coach or piano teacher to instruct a master class where you have students perform songs, and go over the benefits of “acting the song,” playing to tell the story.
  2. An online class in music theory, where you invite students to go through sheet music together, maybe for their instrument, and they learn valuable theory tactics like identifying key signatures and musical symbols.
  3. If you have younger students, elementary school age, you can look for creative ways to incorporate some online games in group lessons where students can still interact with each other in a fun way.
  4. Create fun worksheets to email digitally to your students for them complete before their next lesson, or you can use google slides to create an involved presentation.
  5. Find apps for your students to download that create an entertaining way to help them learn scales or theory, and have them

KEEP THE ENERGY UP

Keeping your energy up during your lessons is a given, but can be so much harder online. Be sure to show interest in what your students have been up to, lend an ear if they are having issues with being cooped up – let’s face it, many of us are frustrated!

Add some dance breaks into your lesson, change the subject to focus on something else if what you’re working on is giving your student too much frustration, do a “clap back” game where your student repeats a rhythm back to you with claps or notes if on an instrument.

Music education is important and benefits students in so many ways. It’s important to be sure that you continue to your students engaged and having fun. They don’t want to give up on the wonderful impact and benefits that music can give them.

Vincent Reina
Vincent Reina
Vincent received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance from Purchase Conservatory, earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching Music from Manhattanville College and is an alumnus of the prestigious Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division. Vincent has performed for television, audio recordings and on professional stages in various genres of music. He’s the proud winner of many significant piano competitions, including the Westminster Choir College Artistic Excellence in Piano Award.
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