Updated: Jun 15
In today's world you can now start your musical journey from the comfort of your own home. Since 2020, online piano lessons have taken the music education scene by storm. I get asked all the time, "Are online lessons as good as in person classes?". My answer is always. . . YES! In this blog post, I will give you a behind the scenes to my new teaching set up and explore the wonderful advantages of learning music online. Here are my ten points on this topic.
1. Convenience: Learn Anytime, Anywhere
Picture this: You're in your comfies chilling after school or work, sipping a hot cup of tea, and you suddenly you remember you have your weekly piano class. With online lessons, no need to panic, you just log on and go, from the comfort of your own home. No more rushing through traffic, worrying about being late to a physical music school wasting precious expensive minutes or missing it all together.
Everyone's schedule is so busy these days and it is hard to fit everything in, from sports to fitness classes and more, the week can seem jam packed. With online lessons you literally just need the half hour free at home. No added time travelling or transport needed. If you are the parent of a music student, no more sitting outside wasting time for half an hour. Now I know anything is worth it for a great music education but here I am explaining some of the benefits of online learning.
2. Relaxed and Fun
One thing I enjoy is my Saturday morning students who are invited to join the weekly Zoom call in their pyjamas if they wish! The cuter and fluffier the better! I get shown all their favourite toys, what they have made in school that week and I'm introduced to their special teddy mascots. I get invited into their space and their world which is a privilege. Although any of my students over the years will tell you I was partial to wearing my slippers during class anyway online and in person! 😆
I have found that as a music teacher, even with a full busy schedule, I find it easier to rearrange and fit students in if something comes up. As I am at home I can arrange classes easily for the morning time or equally an evening time class. Both myself and my students have become more flexible which means there are less missed classes resulting in more consistency. Also if ither one of us has a common cold or cough there is no need to cancel or rearrange lesson we can continue on as normal. I even taught some online classes while having covid! 😷
4. Finding the Right Music Teacher is Easier Than Ever
Do you dream of playing a more unusual instrument like the oboe, cello or saxophone? With in person classes you have to be lucky enough to find a teacher who is in a commutable distance from you which is hard sometimes if you live in a smaller town or suburb. With online classes you can find the perfect music teacher for your niche instrument anywhere in the world.
Do you live abroad and want to learn to play an Irish traditional instrument? Now you can easily search online for an appropriate teacher for any instrument opening up a whole musical world to you. All you need is your instrument and a good Wi-Fi connection!
Also if you have found your perfect teacher and have formed a strong bond you can continue classes even if you move town or city. Staying in touch and continuing to learn is made possible through online classes.
5. What Is an Online Class Like?
I can tell you from my experience, online classes are basically the same as in person classes but just done virtually. I let the student into the Zoom call at their designated time, we chat for a minute to catch up and I ask them if they have any questions or problems from last weeks class. I listen to what they have accomplished from the weeks practice and we continue on from there. It all happens exactly the same!
A few minor differences would be instead of handing a student a sheet or book, I send their homework or music sheets virtually by email or WhatsApp and they then print it on their side or view on a tablet or a phone. Once the student or parent is in a routine with this it is not a problem. Otherwise I send booklets, prizes and certificates in the post.
6. Online Learning and Exams
Exam taking has continued with no interruption from 2020 on also. As the RIAM went online also everything kept going as normal. Exams were always taken in person which meant taking a day from work or school (which you have no say in) and travelling into the Academy (which is fun and scary at the same time!) . Now there is a choice of doing an online recorded exam or a traditional in person exam. There are benefits and cons to both and I feel it is a personal choice whether you do an in person or recorded these days. I will say it has resulted in more students following through with exams and continuing their education this way. I have found students at a certain age get self conscious and sometimes give up on the graded approach journey as it feels like too much pressure performing in an in person 1 to 1 exam situation. With the addition of the recorded exam approach it has been easier to keep them on path and has stopped some from falling away from exams altogether.
7. Creating Independent Musicians
There have been a few surprisingly positive results from online learning also. One I have noticed is that the "hands off approach" creates more independent musicians. As I am not beside them to tune their guitar, flip their page or point to a specific bar, they have to be more independent and self sufficient when it comes to their learning. Taking their own notes during class also helps the student to from a different connection with their learning from an early age. I hear from parents and students alike that as they are sitting at their instrument after the class is over and don't have to pack up and travel home, they end up practicing for longer and continue to play once the class is over. This results in the lesson sticking in their memory better and makes practice easier for them for the week. Win win.
8. A Sneak Peak
When I taught in person classes, parents would drop their child at my door and pick them up half an hour later. We could have a quick chat about their child's progress if necessary and off they went. Now as the student is learning from home, the parent can actually hear what is going on during the class as they can overhear the class. I have had lovely messages from parents saying they love hearing their child interact with me and listen to their progress.
"Hi Liz, I have meaning to text you. Just to say thank you for being a wonderful teacher and more to X...all I hear is laughter and music. She just loves her evening lesson with you. So thank you."
Messages like this make me well up and remind me how much learning music means to people and the people close to them. I know I had a lovely friendship with my own piano teacher growing up which always stayed with me and influenced how I taught also.
Parents get a glimpse into the class and music lesson they would not have normally. Also I am able to now record the lesson and send it to them if they wish for review or to help them with their practice. It has become common place for me to record little help videos for the students to use as a practice guide throughout the week instead of forgetting and waiting a week to ask me for help.
Being welcomed into the students home every week also gives me an insight as to their practice set up. Especially with piano classes as I had never seen their instrument before! I am now able to give them advice on if its time to upgrade from a keyboard to a digital piano, if their acoustic piano needs tuning or if their stand is too low, seat is too high etc. It has been very beneficial this way.
9. Group Music Lessons and Online Courses
Since moving my studio online, I have been able to take on new projects and start new ventures. One thing I have really enjoyed is teaching groups. I have taught guitar camps and adult beginner piano courses successfully online through Zoom. I even developed an online piano course called Piano Song Academy and launched it January 2023. I have taught people from different countries and counties in Ireland which has been a complete game changer for my business also. The adult beginner has benefited hugely from online learning. Lack of time being one huge reason why adults don't take up the lessons in the first place, has been made easier through online lessons. No travelling needed and easily fitting it into their schedule has become more manageable. Also, if they join a group class it takes the pressure off them compared to a 1 to 1 situation and it has resulting in me taking on a lot more adult students since going online.
10. The Elephant In The Room
Ok so there is an obvious pitfall when it comes to online learning which I have to address. With an online class, you need to have a good Wi-Fi connection. There is no mistaking that. I have had to work with students and parents to improve their connectivity at some stages as well as my own. Once this is addressed and put in place the classes run as normal with the odd frozen screen! It is easier to recoup the minutes lost at the end of a virtual class though as I seamlessly move from one class to the next with the click of a button. No time lost on either end.
My Online Music Lesson Tech Set Up
A lot of people have been very curious of my new set up and I get asked lots of questions. In the beginning I just had a laptop and a subscription to this new thing called Zoom!
I eventually upgraded my laptop, bought a microphone to hook into the laptop for better sound quality on my end, learned new settings for Zoom for music classes, figured out how to hook a second camera above my keyboard and got some improved lighting. It has been a learning curve but I am now happy with my set up.
Here is a run down of my gear for anyone who is interested!
Piano: Roland RD700 digital stage piano
Amp: Roland KC60
Laptop: Acer Aspire 5
Microphone: Rode NT USB Mini Mic
Headphones: Over ear Roland RH200
Over head webcam: Logitech C922 Pro Stream Full HD Webcam
Ring Light: LED Soft Ring Light
Electric Guitar Amp: Orange Crush 35RT
Electric Guitar: Fender Stratocaster
Acoustic Guitar: Taylor 410e
iPad: iPad Air
Zoom - classes
Google Drive - saving and sharing files
Dropbox - saving files
Movavi Video Editor and iMovie - editing videos
You Tube - hosting videos
Canva and Word Publisher - creating worksheets
Garage band - Recording backing tracks
For my students, they just need a laptop or a tablet preferably but their smart phone will do fine for classes if needed. I give them the correct Zoom settings for class and I recommend headphones. It is a simple set up for them and easier then people might think.
So there you have it, they are my thoughts on the ins and outs of online music classes. With less commuting time, better insight into classes for parents, musical independence from the student, convenient class times, class attendance consistency and recorded classes available there are plenty of benefits to online learning. For me, it is my new normal and I am very happy with the set up for both me and my student.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to me about how I can help you on your musical journey please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. If you are interested in starting your piano journey I have a few FREEBIES to get you started.
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