students

It’s true that the internet has been around for quite some time now and we are quite used to video conferencing as a means to communicate with friends and family.

It’s also true that when it comes to other things such as teaching, video calls were not a first choice even more so with music lessons.

However we have been forced to embrace video calls and other tools in order to keep teaching, and we’ve learned that it is actually a great alternative even if we think of a world 100% free of Covid 19.

It’s been almost a year since we adapted to this way of teaching, but that is a relatively short amount of time.

That is why it may be a good idea to stop for a moment and review the tools available in order to make the most out of video conferencing.

Video Conferencing as a Music Teacher

This is not a tool but,it is a reminder that you must find the tools that suit your job.

There is a focus on sound quality and a good connection when it comes to online music lessons.

Video conferencing can be messy at first but there are some things that have to meet a certain standard if you are going to teach music.

Under this idea, let’s review a few tools.

Zoom

It’s no secret that Zoom was the most used video conferencing platform in 2020. It’s very stable, it offers great video and audio quality, it lets you record calls and it’s very easy to use.

One of the pros of this platform is that it has the highest capacity of people in one call without any issues. Of course the limit is 500, and you’re probably not going to be giving a lesson to that many students at the same time but, it does show how stable the platform is.

There is however, a free version and a paid version. While the free version covers most of the features you’ll need as a music teacher, there are some things such as scheduling and a cloud recording storage that are only available if you get the pro version at $14.99 a month or the enterprise version which gives you access to an unlimited storage for $19.99 a month.

In general Zoom is a very good choice and it will work just fine for your music lessons.

Rock Out Loud

Video Conferencing

There are many reasons why Rock Out Loud could be the best choice for you, but the main reason is that it is a platform with a focus on music.

This is important because not only does it offer a higher quality audio codec but it also offers features that enhance the learning experience such as on screen chords and on screen music sheets.

This is one of the features that set it apart from other video conferencing tools as it allows you to see your students, and teach with the instrument in hand without having to switch to a presentation mode to screen share or get the camera close to a book.

It’s very useful, but if you want to screen share, you also have that option.

When it comes to all the other important aspects of a video conferencing platform, it’s very good, offering a great quality audio, video and a stable connection.

However it doesn’t get close to the amount of people Zoom can hold in a call, with a limit of 35 people, although most teachers probably have less than that in one online lesson.

It’s also very easy to use for both teachers and students.

It also offers a free version, a paid version with lesson rooms for $9.95, and the most expensive version at 13.99 for multi lesson rooms and the ability to assign sheet music to each room.

for more information check out the Rock Out Loud Live website.

Skype

Skype has been around for a while and most people are familiar with it which can be one of its strengths.

It’s free and offers all the basic things you need for a video call but it is one of the most limited and it does have some issues with performance and there are some problems sometimes when adding contacts.

They’ve recently added the Meet Now product, which enables hosts and participants to create and join a video call without making an account or downloading the app.

Skype has been around for quite some time so it’s safe, easy to use and it offers a seamless user experience, but if you want to think outside the box when thinking of your music lessons, it may be best to think about other options.

Google Hangouts

After all we’ve mentioned before, what could Google Hangouts offer that the other platforms don’t? one of the good things is that, like Zoom, you don’t need to have an account, you just need the link to go to the call which can be useful sometimes.

The big thing about Google Hangouts is its connection to all other google platforms such as gmail and google calendar, which helps with accessibility.

Other than that is good, it’s free but nothing particularly amazing.

Others

There are other options that can be of use but not as the main platform, such as Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, and many others.

These shouldn’t be your main platform mainly because it doesn’t offer the level of quality that other platforms have, due to the fact that social media isn’t specialized in video conferencing, but still, it can work as support tools.

As always if you got the video call covered but you still need to manage your own studio and music lessons, Music Teacher’s Helper can be a great tool to support you as a teacher.

 

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There is a big difference between teaching children and teaching adults, this changes the dynamic of the class whether  it is online or in person. There is a reason why some people prefer to work with children and why others prefer to have a more mature class, and it’s because the experience is almost completely different. It could be very helpful to think about these differences and how it should affect the approach from the teachers side.

While it’s impossible to be perfectly accurate, a range of ages and categories could definitely help organize the way we approach different types of groups.

Very Young Children (from 4 to 7)

At this age the most important factor is to have their attention with something fun, and through this, give little doses of knowledge. This applies to every area of education, however with music, it tends to be a little more dynamic friendly. Music can be very fun without any problems at all

Children (8 to 12)

This is when discipline starts to be a very important thing to focus on, because it’s very easy for children around this age to run wild and find distractions, it’s not as simple as making it fun for them, it’s also a matter of keeping them interested. At this age real preferences and interests start to come out, they begin to test the waters and guide themselves with their taste in music, sports, games, or any other activity.

Because of this the students will become varied, and with different orientations, but without much discipline or disposition to be in a class and learn. This is the time for questions,

Teenagers (13 to 17)

At this point bigger words are said, bigger meanings are found, tougher music is played and understood, and there is a growing sense of determination towards learning, in this case, practice music in order to achieve their personal goal as musicians.

This is also the beginning of their lives being more independent, making more decisions and exploring different parts of their lives, trying new things. This will show in a class room or in an online class, as students will be eager to apply the things they learn into their own ideas.

Young adults (18 to 26)

These are the students that are closer to have university type of experience or probably with a regular job, clear aspirations and a sense of responsibility. For some, this is the ideal moment to start learning music in an academic sort of way, because everything they learn will be taken with more attention and maturity than to say an 8 year old. This does not mean that children shouldn’t learn, it just means that the overall experience may be more complete if have the experience and discipline for it.

Adults (27 and more)

They can range from a very passionate musician that didn’t start very young but nonetheless aspires to do great things with music, to an older person that always wanted to learn about music and takes it as a hobby. Still, both types are the kind of people that can almost be equals to the teachers in terms of life experience, this doesn’t mean the student can question the teacher, it means that in terms of communication they share a common ground through experience.

These are just some characteristics of eras in a person’s life that can be a soft general rule most of the times, and in a way it can help organize how music should be taught depending on the age of the students, and why it’s better not to mix it up too much when it comes to the ages of the students.

 

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Want to multiply your time and your earnings? If so, you might enjoy teaching a group of several students—or a crowd of them—all at once. Instead of teaching one student at a time for eight hours a day, you could teach those eight students for one hour!

This article is part of a series for new teachers. Or for seasoned ones.

In addition to monetary benefits, group classes are a wonderful way to turn an otherwise solitary pastime into a team effort. If you’ve ever felt competition from activities such as dance, soccer or hockey, you realize the draw of groups. So let’s look into it further!

Details to consider

Ages

  • What age range will I teach?
  • Will I include children with adults, or keep specific ages grouped together?
  • How many am I willing or able to teach at one time?
  • If students are elementary age, can I handle the wiggles of a group of them? Real Simple offers eleven tips from teachers for managing groups of children, some of which can be adapted to a group guitar setting.
  • If students are teen-aged, will they feel more inhibited in a group?
    • I have found that a mix of ages is desirable—the students help one another, they don’t have as many age-related hang-ups, and appear to relax and have more fun.
    • I love to have adults in the group—especially seniors. It’s a fun dynamic!
    • Unlike so many activities which are geared for people of the same age, it is noteworthy that group lessons can bring generations together.

Where to teach

  • How much space do I have?
  • Will I rent a room? How much will it cost? Is it comfortable? Furthermore, is it air-conditioned, ventilated or heated? Also sound-proofed enough? Is there convenient parking? And is there a waiting space for parents or drivers?
  • Can I do this at home? If I do, will it disrupt my family? Or my neighbors?
  • Do I need to be concerned about insurance? Here are one teacher’s thoughts.

Group dynamics

  • How much individual attention can I give in a group setting?
  • If potential and natural abilities vary widely, how can I keep faster-advancing players challenged while not discouraging struggling ones? (Join me next month for ideas on both of these.)

Materials

  • What materials accommodate a group?
    • Because it’s difficult for me to find a one-size-fits-all curriculum, I create my own courses. I give students binders and hand out each week’s lesson sheets, 3-hole punched. I include a variety of information, chords, rhythm, and a touch of note reading. Every week there will be new songs on which to practice chords and strums. To make it attractive, I use public-domain clip art and my own graphics so I don’t run into copyright issues.
    • I send each student mp3s of the songs so they can listen and learn them if they don’t already know them. These are good practice tools, too.
    • No matter the time of year, I like to teach them at least one Christmas song. Some have just three or four chords, and what a boost for a student to be able to pull off a beautiful piece come December!

How long and what to charge

  • How long will each class last?
    • I have found that 45-50 minutes is about right. It allows for questions after class, and for one group to leave while the next arrives. Tender fingertips don’t last much longer anyway, at first!
    • I’ve tried thirty minutes. We barely get tuned and play last week’s lesson. Not enough time.
  • Will this be a semester class, or a certain number of weeks?
    • I have tried four, eight and ten-week sessions as well as semesters. Four seems pointless. Even at eight weeks many youngsters are just getting their fingers toughened up enough to enjoy it, and switch chords quickly enough to keep the rhythm going. But ten weeks or a full semester proves successful.
  • What will I charge per student?
    • Since it’s not one-on-one, I don’t charge as much as for private. However, groups take a great deal of planning and energy. Don’t under-charge!
    • Charging too little may encourage less serious students.
    • Find out what other groups charge. Like dance or martial arts.

Policy making

  • What policies will I create?
    • First of all, will I offer makeups?
    • What will I do if the weather is bad and class can’t be held? And what if I must cancel for some reason?
    • Will I teach more than one group class per week and invite students to attend any or all of them? And will that be in lieu of makeups?
    • How will I handle purchase of materials or students needing new strings?
    • Will I allow electric guitars in class, or just acoustic?
      • I only allow acoustics. Dealing with amps or with volume is a headache I can do without in a group setting.
    • Will students be required to pay in advance?
      • In my studio, yes. I hate chasing payments. Also, I don’t want to spend precious class time dealing with money. So they pay the full amount ahead of time.
    • How much time will I expect students to practice?

Questionable lyrics

  • Finally, what if students request songs with inappropriate lyrics?
    • This is a big deal to me. I’m very concerned about the words my students see or sing. Yes, I know they probably hear a lot worse on the radio or in the halls at school. But that does not mean it’s acceptable! In addition to specific words, age-appropriate subjects are important to me, too.
    • Because of my convictions about lyrics, I either use white-out, swap in acceptable words, or say “Sorry, I don’t teach that one. Let’s find another you like.” After all, both my reputation and my conscience are involved.

In next month’s post, I’ll share about the lessons themselves. Planning for how to make the group work. And equally important, what information to cover. Ideas that have worked for me. Join me then!

A group of enthused musicians creates buzz for your studio. Are you ready to give it a try?

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