While it’s getting more common to use the internet as a way to connect with students in many areas, it can still be a bit strange for teachers that are not used to doing online sessions, even more so if it’s a music lesson, due to the fact that there is a lot of techniques and sounds to deal with.

There are a few things to remember before starting to teach online that will make everything an experience worthwhile.


One of the most obvious things to have in mind is a stable internet connection, this will be the base of good comunication and a good class.

A good connection can change due to the places, type of connection, (Wi Fi, LAN, Mobile Data) and traffic, so it’s important for both the teacher and the students to keep these things in order.


Being music lessons, the second most important thing is the sound quality. It’s important to be able to hear each sound as clear as possible in order to maintain a good line of comunication. If the sound quality is not terrible but it’s not as good it can bring confusion and sometimes boredom to the experience.

Time Zone

Time zones is also an important aspect that can be overlooked sometimes, but the fact is that online lessons were made to work internationally, and as such, dealing with this is a must.

Good comunication and schedule managament can help with this issue, there are many platforms and apps out there that can help students and teachers organize despite the time difference.

Video Quality and Visuals

While sound is the most important aspect of a music lesson, visual support is also very important, not just for music reading, but also as a way to keep students engaged in the lesson.

According to chronicle.com:

You don’t have to be a graphic designer to enhance course appearance. A little attention to presentation goes a long way. Do you have a lot of written lecture notes or instructions? Break up long chunks of text with subheads and space between paragraphs. Embed relevant images. Include thumbnail videos that you’ve either created or sourced from YouTube, news sites, or library resources. Aim for attractive yet appropriate

From Presence to Online Connection

Every teacher has techniques, and ways to approach their students, in a way there is a sort of performance that takes place in the classroom, where a specific attitude is taken, however the “digital enviroment” may not work so well with the same performances as it would in a classroom.

That’s why there is an important process of adaptation when it comes to bringing the experience of teaching to an online lesson.

The solution, by the way, is not to post a video of yourself delivering a standard lecture in a classroom. The physical energy gets lost in that medium, too. Instead, capture your personality and your passion in ways that are different from what you might do in person, yet authentic.

Another thing to bear in mind is that it’s more difficult to know if the students are following the class.

In a physical classroom, you can pick up on nonverbal cues. When students are taking class at home, you can’t observe when you’ve lost their attention or when your instructions aren’t clear.

It’s always a good idea to get some clues about jumping into the whole internet education business, because while it may seem easy, there are many details that could turn the session into a disaster, but as most things, with practice comes perfection, and there is no better time than today to explore this fairly new way to teach and learn.

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By Robin Steinweg

How do you prepare for fall? A vacation from lessons or a lighter teaching load can offer opportunities to create a master list.

Prepare for Fall

Prepare for Fall

Here are some of my to-dos:

  • Determine available teaching times
    • Will I offer 30, 45 or 60-minute lessons?
    • How many weeks will I teach?
    • Will I give myself weeks off?
  • Send my policy, schedule, and registration forms to students
    • Let students sign up on MTH!
    • Will I get a raise?
    • Does my policy need tweaking or firming up (See other teachers’ policies for ideas)?
    • Will I require parents to initial sections and sign an agreement?
  • Weed my files
    • What haven’t I used in a year?
    • Are files titled for easiest retrieval?
    • Shall I divide by grade level or genre? What works best for me?
    • Might I use a retrieval system—such as Paper Tiger online?
    • Will I donate or sell what I don’t keep?
  • Clean/organize my studio
  • Attend workshops
    • Plan so I don’t purchase duplicates or binge
  • Check instruments for needed maintenance
  • Consider a theme for the year or season
    • Will group classes, recitals and special pieces reflect this theme?
    • Will I decorate according to the theme?
      • (a bulletin board labeled “Prepare for Fall” could contain notes/symbols to identify, or a picture with hidden music symbols. A football field with lesson “yard lines” might make for a prepare for fall practice push)
    • Choose new activities or games
      • A studio-wide motivation chart to record goals met
      • New game for group lessons
    • Contact waiting list if there are timeslots to fill
    • Look for décor, incentives and teaching aids at garage sales, thrift stores or a dollar store
      • Laser pointer
      • Stick with pointing hand
      • Shaped erasers
      • Stickers
      • Prizes for goals met or to add to the studio “store”
    • Waiting area materials
      for the waiting room

      for the waiting room

      • Puzzles
      • Books
      • Music magazines
      • Coloring books and crayons or colored pencils
      • Water bubbler or bottles
      • Swap out materials monthly or quarterly?
    • Add technology—for the techno-challenged, push yourself to try just one!

What would you add? Or do you prepare for fall in a totally different way?

In my August 28th post I’ll have ideas for creating teacher binders. See you then!


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After last month’s article, are you still looking for:

  • A few ideas for a fresh new way to start off a lesson?
  • A few quick improv games to use in a group setting?
  • A reward activity for a student’s hard work on an assignment?
  • Starter ideas for the next composition:

In each part of this series, we are exploring a different angle in the music creativity process. So, today we are going to explore improvisation with an activity I call…

“Walking the Dog!”

Excuse Me? You may be wondering what exercising your pet has to do with improvisation techniques? I have found this to be one of the best and ways to help my students to understand and practice development of motifs and phrases. Most people can relate to having a new pet with fond recollection, and so you’ll immediately have their eager attention to try this exercise when you greet them with “Today we’re walking the dog!”

The Motif: A Mini Melody

I first ask the student to play a mini, or baby melody, 3 or 4 notes (recommend mostly steps and maybe one larger interval).  [···]

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