Anytime a change occurs in a lesson, as a teacher you have to adapt. This is especially true if your changing from in person lessons to teaching music lessons online via live streaming video.
First and foremost, don’t worry. After a few lessons online your music lessons will be feeling comfortable and familiar like they used to. Be patient with yourself, your students, your student’s family, and technology. It’s a new process for you the student and there is always a getting used to it period of time.
This article is about 10 things you can do today in your first online music lessons that will help you get used to this new music lesson environment.
The article isn’t to give you tips and tricks to be ready to teach an online music lesson. For that information, click here: Things you should know about teaching online lessons.
Ten Things – You’re Live Online With A Music Student
1. Flash Cards – You hold up a music note, rhythm, chord, or key signature flash card and you’re off to the races. Have a variety of cards based on what your student knows.
2. Work on the songs your student already knows – If you’re starting with your first online lesson, don’t start with something to new or unfamiliar to the student. Start with something the student is used to doing. Going through familiar material will help you understand how you’re going to be teaching in this online world.
3. Sight-reading – Since sight-reading is an exercise that’s easy to preform for the student. Slow and steady playing and focusing on the steps of how to sight-read will really help. Here are the steps: Key Signature, Set a tempo in your head, Mentally go through the rhythm, Look at the notes and for any accidentals, Do a mental play through, Relax and play-through without stopping. Don’t worry about mistakes.
4. Memorize – If a student can play a specific piece really well, have them set their music down and play without the music. What a fun thing to work on. See how far they can get. Then, have them work on a playing a complete section without the music. Rinse and repeat.
5. Physical Exercises – sometimes we don’t need to make a sound on our instrument to be practicing and working on music. For you guitar teachers, here’s a video on practicing strumming without the guitar in your hand: patterns away from the guitar. If you’re not a guitar teacher, watch the video anyway and think about the way you can have students practice without using their instrument. These become really great learning exercises and the act of doing them is easy over a video call or in person.
6. Call and Response Works! – It’s hard to play or sing simultaneously over a video call. There’s an issue called latency that really messes things up. But call and response works great. You can clap a rhythm and have a student clap it back to you. You can sing and have a student sing back. Are you seeing how many ways you can use call and response? Don’t forget to reverse the roles. Having your student lead and then you echo is a great way to get them listing to what they are doing.
7. Technique, Technique, Technique – have your student play through technique exercises and patterns. If possible do your best to get your students camera pointed at their hands, or where the technique breakdowns take place. Take time to work on small parts of the technique for them to practice and demonstrate in front of you.
8. Drills – Are you working on a two-measure section with your student? Or a phrase in a song? Drill it. Play that 5 times in a row. Now in super slow motion, now hands separately, now with picking only in one direction, now without the bow, now play those measure staccato, now fortissimo, etc. You get the idea. Tons to do in online lessons with drills.
9. Performance practices – have your student demonstrate proper performance practices. How to take a bow, how to start a piece of music they are playing (taking a deep breath and start body language), how to adjust a piano bench before as they sit at a new piano, how to take time to get their music ready. In short, practice performing.
10. Demonstrating – because you and your student won’t be able to play at the same time, you’re going to need to demonstrate. Your music lesson student might not be able to sit patiently as you play a five-minute number so demonstrate in small short blocks what you’re trying to express. We love the idea of demonstrating practice, asks your student to look at their music while you demonstrate how you’d like them to practice. Then, have them give it a shot. Whens the last time your taught practicing, this is a easy thing to do on a video lesson.
Why This List Works
The 10 activities above are things every teacher can do in their first few lessons while they are getting used to teaching over a video call. Notice how the list above doesn’t include all of the other things you do in your normal in person lessons. Those things are important to! The list above is intended to help you with the new format of your music lesson so you can do everything you always do so well and get the same effect. Good luck in your new online lessons and don’t forget the most important thing to teaching to to care about and help a student. This is still very possible with online video music lessons.