Lessons are important to any musician’s development, no matter their age or ability level. The new coronavirus has unfortunately meant people have been forced to stay home more than normal to avoid exposure. It is thus currently riskier for those who are passionate about music to take in-person lessons because the process typically requires close proximity to instructors.
But that does not mean they must stop getting the instruction they need to improve their crafts. Many instructors — including Sloan School of Music — have switched to offering virtual music lessons so students can keep up their progress while maintaining safe social distancing practices.
A few simple steps can make these online sessions as beneficial as possible. Here are 11 ways to keep your virtual music lessons as helpful as in-person ones.
Virtual Music Lesson Tips for Students
Students, preparation is everything, and it is important to make sure you are set up correctly before your lesson begins. The following steps will help you get the most from your virtual music lesson.
1. Your instructor needs to see your face, hands, and instrument.
If you are attending lessons over Skype or Zoom, make sure your teacher can see you clearly. This will ensure he or she can catch any mistakes you make and correct them, and is important if you want to develop your skills and receive effective feedback.
2. Test your technology before your virtual music lesson starts.
It’s happened to all of us. We think everything is in order, and, inevitably, something goes wrong the minute we need it to work in our favor. Always test your technology — internet connection, device, camera, etc. — thoroughly before attending your lesson.
3. Check the location of your microphone.
Test your microphone on either your phone or laptop before signing in for your virtual music lesson. It’s also a good idea to make sure it isn’t too close or too far away from your instrument, as either location will distort your sound. This will help your teacher provide you with invaluable feedback.
4. Set up in a well-lit room.
You’ll want to make sure your music teacher can see your fingers on the guitar or ukulele strings, saxophone keys, or whatever instrument you’re playing. You’ll get better constructive criticism this way, your lessons will go faster and you’ll be able to progress more quickly, meaning you’ll truly maximize your time with your teacher.
5. Plug your devices in before you begin.
It can be easy to forget to charge your devices if you are eager to begin your lesson, making it is important to plug them in before starting. Doing so will mean you won’t have to worry about dead batteries interrupting your time with your teacher, giving each of you peace of mind to focus on learning scales or whatever else is on the agenda.
Virtual Music Lesson Tips for Teachers
It can be difficult to adjust your format for an online setting, but there are many strategies that can make your virtual music lessons as effective as possible. In short: Use your technology wisely, teach your student to properly use their technology, and, most importantly, practice patience.
6. Teach through a computer.
Using a computer instead of your phone is a lot more convenient for you, plus gives your students a wider angle and clearer view of you and your surroundings. This will help create an engaging, distraction-free learning environment for your virtual music lessons.
7. Always check your internet connection.
It’s important to make sure your internet is functioning at its best before starting your lesson. Connectivity issues could be the biggest problem you run into, and it will save you and your students a lot of time if you check your internet beforehand.
8. Consider using headphones.
You might stumble across some sound-related issues when you begin teaching virtual music lessons. Feedback or echoes likely probably means a speaker is turned up being picked up by that user’s microphone. If this is the case, consider using headphones and asking your student to use headphones to eliminate the issue.
9. Speak slower than you normally would.
It can be easy to speak fast when you have a limited amount of time, but this method could backfire in a virtual teaching session. Teaching lessons virtually will be an adjustment for both you and your students. Consider speaking slower than usual to make sure you are getting your points across. This will save a good amount of time in the long run because it will help your students understand your instructions.
10. Decide which platform to use.
Zoom and Skype are great options, but each has different benefits. Zoom allows you to pre-record lessons in the app and share them with your students. One caveat is that you can only provide a maximum of ten group lessons, which might be limiting if you plan to offer more than that. Skype is free and good for interactive lessons, particularly those that must last longer than 30 minutes, and there are no limits on group lessons. Your priorities and budget will help you decide which platform best matches your needs.
11. Set up digital payments.
Last, but not least, it is important to set up digital payments — a feature that will attract more customers in the long run. Set up an account with PayPal or Zelle to make payments as easy and convenient as possible for your students.
The Benefits of Virtual Music Lessons
Music allows performers and listeners to express themselves in new ways, and a need to stay at home does not mean such opportunities have to be put on hold. If you are a teacher, your students will be forever grateful that you introduced them to this enchanting mode of communication and helped them hone their crafts.
They’ll be even more grateful that you found a way to continue teaching them despite the limiting factors in the world around them.
Virtual music lessons may be strange at first, but ensuring you and your students have good connectivity, solid video and audio setups, and that you are communicating clearly will go a long way toward keeping you both productive during stay-at-home periods.
Interested in signing up for music lessons? Contact Sloan School of Music today!