Are Online Music Lessons Worthwhile?
Updated: Aug 21
When the pandemic hit back in March, music teachers were among those scrambling to move to online learning. Would we be able to continue to offer our students high quality, detailed instruction online?
I think the short answer is Yes. I was able to quickly join a support group for music teachers adapting to online learning. With the group's collective knowledge, the transition went pretty smoothly for me. I figured out which platform I should use (Zoom), how to adjust sound settings for the best audio, which external mic to purchase to improve my audio further.
While I wouldn't say that I would choose online learning over in-person learning given the choice (I miss hearing beautiful tone, being able to play with students, and using my hands to make adjustments), I have found it to be an excellent substitute in the meantime. I can still help guide my students to play more in tune, with better rhythm, more musically, with better technique, etc!
Zavier (above), 12, says that he thinks online lessons work especially well when you use an external mic. It makes it very easy to hear each other and the details in the playing.
Here are some of the benefits of online lessons that I've discovered while teaching during the pandemic:
1) I have learned to be more concise. See?
2) I demonstrate more.
3) Both my students and I have learned not to talk over each other. Zoom focuses on the audio of one computer at a time, so you can't both speak at the same time.
4) Students are making great progress! With the time at home and slower pace of life, students have plenty of time to practice.
5) Students enjoy practicing more than usual! Because they have lots of down time, practicing doesn't eat into their free time. It's something fun and productive to do. It's also an emotional outlet and stress reliever.
6) I see the home and home life of the student. Beyond revealing simple things like the student needing a different chair, it's helped me better understand my students both as cellists and people.
7) Students are learning how to adapt and persevere in undesirable circumstances. I often think that learning a musical instrument means learning life skills. This is just another example.
8) Students have social interaction and personal connection each week. While we do work hard in lessons, I make sure I check in with the students and chat a bit. They have me as a consistent presence in this tough and isolating time, and they know that I care about them.
9) We've maintained some sense of normalcy. While so many things have changed, seeing me each week hasn't. Spending time with the cello hasn't. Feeling personal gratification with improvement hasn't. Having a musical outlet hasn't.
10) Students will make it out of this having sustained a hobby or interest. If this pandemic had taken place when I was a kid, would I still be playing the cello? I'd like to think so, but it surely would have been months and months of not having instruction and potentially losing interest or motivation. In 2020, we're lucky to have the ability to still "see" each other and check in each week.
Maia, 11, plays a scale for me. Here you can see my external mic (Blue Snowflake), speakers from 1995 (which still work great (Three Rs!)), coffee, tea, a beautiful view. I'm a happy teacher!
While I think we'll gladly return to in person lessons when we're able, online lessons are a great placeholder in the meantime. I don't know about about you, but I actually look forward to Zooming these days. What a blessing to see my students each week and to hear their beautiful playing!
What do you think of online lessons? Are there any benefits you're seeing as a parent, student or teacher?
Thanks for stopping by!
- Ms. Catherine