Canadian Musician - March/April 2023 - Page 30

COLUMNS Pivoting to Remote Teaching

By Carly Walton
Shift Gradually


would say mentally , the first thing you want to do is decide that future inquiries should be online . So don ’ t tell yourself all your current students need to be shifted online immediately , because that can feel really overwhelming . But if you tell yourself future students can be taught online , that allows you some time to get set up . Making the pivot and making the change happens by getting your tech and getting organized . One of the biggest things is making yourself present online . That doesn ’ t mean you need to join every social network , but you need at least one . The top one I recommend is a Facebook business page , because it ’ s free , and you can set it up in an afternoon , you can put a couple of pieces of content up there , maybe a little video demo of your studio , and show people what you have to offer . If you don ’ t have an online presence and you want to start getting online students , it ’ s going to be really hard to attract anyone , because they don ’ t have anything to go by . They have no way of getting to know you , versus when you ’ re in person and you ’ re getting a lot of referrals . People trust referrals immediately , and they ’ ll just give you a call . So , for online , making sure you ’ re present so that people can get to know you better is a great starting point .
Make Use of Visual Learning
A great online lesson is really so similar to the in-person lesson . You just need to add a few more tools to show the student visually what they ’ re learning . So , a top-down camera for piano is great . A side view camera for a guitar is great , so that you can toggle between cameras . I think anyone who taught during the pandemic probably saw that that ’ s very , very effective . Getting yourself organized online so that you have your curriculum or your sheet music that you can quickly screen share . Having good audio is a discussion that ’ s still going on . And there are so many fantastic platforms , the one I ’ m recommending most is Forte , because it ’ s free , and the audio is just really good . But honestly , a lot of teachers still use Zoom . And I think Zoom has made a lot of changes to their audio . So , you can get the student to have a better sound from their end . There are platforms like Forte where they don ’ t have to adjust any settings at all . So that ’ s kind of helpful as well . So good sound materials , maybe two cameras can be helpful . I think the organization aspect of it is just really important , because you don ’ t want to be like , ‘ oh , where ’ s that book ?’ Or ‘ what is next for the student ?’ Get some lesson plans ready in advance .
Avoid Zoom Fatigue
One of the first videos I made in 2020 , when the pandemic hit was 10 Ways to Avoid Online Teaching Exhaustion . And it ’ s still a favorite with our teachers , because I think there are good reminders in there . One of them is to get a good chair . Don ’ t sit on your piano bench , but a good supportive rolly chair ; you can roll to your computer and then back to your video , if you need to [ get to ] your keyboard . I always tell teachers turn your video off , stand up , and stretch . Turn it off — you don ’ t have to have your video on the whole time there ; your st udent is not even looking at you most of the time , they ’ re looking at their music or the instrument . So , turn it off , turn your mic off if you need to eat something . That ’ s kind of the convenience of being online . If you have a new baby , the baby can be crying , and you can mute it . I ’ ve done that . There ’ s just a little bit more flexibility there . So that you ’ re not like so stiff sitting there the whole time . Using video to demonstrate so that you don ’ t have to be talking the whole time : pop on a YouTube video screen , share it with a student or share a video via your device and share other students performing those pieces or other teachers so that they can get other examples . That ’ s also really helpful . Talk less . We talk so much as teachers , just non-stop . And a lot of teachers were finding they were losing their voice and I said , stop talking — ask more questions . Ask the student what they ’ re learning , ask them what they need to work on . Don ’ t tell them every single thing . Those are just a couple of them to realize that it ’ s flexible . You don ’ t have to be so stiff online .
Plan What Feels Necessary
Lessons can be whatever the teacher feels is necessary for the student . A lot of our teachers do back-to-back 30-minute lessons , like the traditional method , and I know some teachers that do a hybrid approach where they do a group lesson every other week . So , they ’ re getting a one-on-one lesson just twice a month with you , then they ’ re meeting with their group twice a month . So that way , they ’ re getting that peer-to-peer interaction ; they ’ re performing for each other . Other teachers do like theory lessons on the weekends . And that ’ s kind of included in their lesson price . There are so many ways to do it , and structure it . And that ’ s , I think one of the biggest benefits of being a part of a community of other teachers doing it . So , you can learn from what ’ s working . That ’ s one of the hardest parts about being a music teacher , a studio owner , is the isolation . I had someone reach out to me recently who said he was so isolated because he lives alone