How To Make Music Lessons Engaging While Online
aaamusic | On 08, Feb 2021
Since the economic hit following the pandemic from COVID-19, it seems that any and all music businesses have had one of the hardest struggles to keep afloat. No in-person music lessons have forced teachers to move to an online, virtual experience.
While this worked for a short time, now almost a year later, teachers have to become more creative in finding ways to keep their lessons engaging and fun. Students get easily distracted, complacent and bored with online/virtual learning. Most schools are still sticking to a virtual curriculum so the extra-curricular lessons have to be more exciting.
This is difficult to accomplish for many since a computer screen and video have a limited amount of space to use, as well as the fact that there are routines to follow, which can also get dull. However, even with the limited amount of space and view, there are still some great ways that you can achieve making music lessons exciting for your students.
Teachers who enjoy music should already have a love for their craft, and most teachers are musicians themselves. The virtual medium has created difficulty in teaching, since you can’t physically place your student in proper posture when singing, show them the correct placement of fingers on the guitar, or how to position their hands when learning to play the piano online. But one simple solution to creating more excitement from students is the introduction of games.
You can turn almost any lesson into a game, and since you are already limited in an online space, creating a game is almost essential. You can take any sort of music theory lesson regarding musical symbols or key signatures and turn it into a game. Here are a few suggestions for games online you might want to consider:
- Warm-Up Sight Reading – For any of your students working on scales for their instrument, or even voice, most teachers tend to start with warm-up exercises, and you can easily turn those warm-ups into a fun game to start each lesson. Create some flashcards that give either the musical symbol or phrase, or maybe even a full measure with notes, so your student can learn to sight-read through their warm-ups – this can work with voice or an instrument, having them play or sing through.
- Matching Game with Cards – Yet another simple one you can put together fairly easily with some index cards, pictures, and/or some markers. Line up whatever musical theory or lesson you’re working on with your students, such as the piano notes/keys, song, etc. by both picture and word, then mix them all up and flip them over. Let your student work to identify and match the correct words with the pictures. It doesn’t have to be super difficult but it can be a really fun way to do a review and be sure your student has grasped things.
- Name That Tune – This is a simple game for your students that they can really enjoy, and see how well they know songs. You can work with the piano or any instrument, plunking out some simple melodies that will help engage your student to recognize the song. You can take this even further by having them identify certain aspects of the song that you’re playing or humming, such as: Can they guess the key? Can they guess what the time signature is? And then have them quiz you by doing the same, which not only helps them learn but gives them the opportunity to practice their instrument or singing while playing as well.
GROUP ONLINE LESSONS OR WORKSHOPS
Teachers who have multiple students, sometimes ones working on the same song or difficult piece, can create group video lessons with more than one student at a time. This is great for them to converse about what they’ve learned so far, and maybe even help one another out where they might be having some trouble.
This helps to mix up doing just a regular one-on-one session and gets your student more prepared to review and practice. You can also create different experiences for your students than just doing regular lessons, such as group workshops online where you can have many students at one time learning something, such as songwriting, or even get them all learning the same piece of music together.
COLLABORATE WITH OTHER TEACHERS
If you want to create some sort of master workshop, you can contact other teachers who teach the same instrument as you to develop some sort of interactive, online get together for all of your students, developing skills while being in a different setting. You can also even be so bold as to find other teachers who teach something different than you and create fun collaborations.
For example, if you’re a guitar teacher, you might contact a voice coach, and then you can have your students team up in pairs, one playing and one singing. They can work together during their lesson times with you and the voice teacher, and eventually create a recording putting the mix together in video format for presenting at a recital.
It allows more creativity and fun, as well as learning into the lesson that’s a little more involved than just doing one or the other. Plus, it helps for the students to meet other students in an online setting so that there is more interaction since this is something that’s lacking gravely in the virtual experience.
LET CREATIVITY FLOW
Don’t let the online setting fold you into during your lessons one way that can become boring or dull for students. Do some research and find out what other music teachers are doing with their online students, or do some brainstorming and come up with some fun ideas of your own. You could do something as simple as changing your background for a lesson, or move your webcam into a different location just to change the scenery. Sometimes even the littlest changes can have a nice impact on your student. Keep the creativity flowing!