Starting a brand new way of teaching and learning can be daunting, it’s a good idea to have a practice before you start. Consider offering your students a free 10-minute taster, so they can get used to playing and communicating online, positioning their learning environment and instrument, and making sure a parent is aware of how the lessons will be coordinated. Here are some things you should check in advance with your students:
There is no need for your students to have exactly the same set up as you – it would be unrealistic to expect them to buy professional equipment, or indeed to invest in other computer equipment in order to take instrumental lessons. In practical terms, they will use whatever device they already have prior to starting online lessons, likely without any peripheral equipment. It is important to understand and respect this. Choose a platform that works for both of you and walk through set up or send instructions.
Where the lesson takes place
It is a good idea to ask that the student finds one relatively quiet, but not isolated place (ie. Not a bedroom, or a room with closed doors) for the lesson to take place each time. Establishing a routine for this space means that you can maintain a sense of purpose and intent, and that the rest of the family understands the need to be respectful of the time.
Just as you should be professionally presented for your online lessons, so should your students. Make sure you establish this expectation before you begin lessons.
Make sure you collect the correct contact information for the student (and where the student is under 14 this should be a parent or guardian’s contact information) so that when you send the link to a lesson video meeting the student can access it. You can use apps such as Calendly or Google Calendar to do this for you. Allow for a little set up time between lessons so you don’t waste time.
Role of the parent.
It is important to establish from the start that parents are aware of how lessons will be conducted, and can be on hand at the start of lessons to make sure the setup is correct, but feel confident to ask them to enable you to communicate unhindered during the lesson so you avoid interruption.
It is a good idea to send ahead all files, music, accompaniments, etc that can be sent in advance. Make sure you go over with your student how they are going to access sheet music or activities that are also on screen. In some situations, it may be helpful to have a second device such as a mobile or tablet to do this, if the student doesn't have access to a printer.
If you are self-employed, we would strongly recommend that you write up instructions and policies for your online teaching practice ahead of starting lessons. There is excellent guidance for doing so from the Musician’s Union and ISM.
Photo Credit: Kyle Arcilla