By Aaron Cloutier
So as I'm sure you're aware of at this point if not sooner, most if not all music schools have moved to a remote lesson plan given the current climate of our situation with COVID-19.
As an instructor, I have received feedback from various students. Some love the convenience while others miss that “in the room” connection that can happen between student and instructor. I remember having the pleasure of taking lessons with my voice instructor in her New York City studio and loved how it wasn’t just a lesson. The location, the feeling of the environment, the connection between student and teacher, it was all an experience. One that stayed with me to this day.
I say all this because I do understand the importance of face to face lessons in a room. Absolutely. That all said, I’ve discovered so many benefits to online instruction that I wanted to share with you all.
So here we go! Here are my top 3 reasons to consider online lessons.
I spent a collective 10 years working in busy private music schools with all kinds of noise going on around me at any given time. Depending on the time of day, I could be competing with a drummer bashing out punk beats above my head, a full band rehearsal literally in the basement below me or the sound of my fellow guitar instructor’s amp turned up way too loud in the other room while I’m trying to explain diatonic harmony to a young student. This particular school has very thin walls and little soundproofing so this kind of noise issue was common throughout the week. If you’re the type who’s easily distracted like me, this can be an endurance test.
What I personally love about online lessons is that for one, I’m at home. I’m not competing with a full band. I can hear myself think and ultimately, I can do my job that much more efficiently which is providing the best service and experience for my student. What I’ve also found in working with students online is that the lessons themselves tend to be a lot more focused as well due to the same fact that THEY are no longer distracted.
Let’s take a young student for example. I’ve worked with kids from ages 7-17 at one particular school and of course, attention spans can vary with the age. I’ve had plenty of 7- year-olds trail off and look around at all the art on my walls, listen to the music going on outside the lesson room, things like that. But what’s cool about a zoom lesson, for instance, is that there's nowhere for them to look but at their screen. Due to the nature of the online environment, this potentially can lead to a much more productive lesson If you find a good instructor.
2. Freedom of location
I have taught in-person lessons in a lot of different places. In addition to private schools, I’ve made house calls, I’ve hosted private lessons in my own home. I’ve even commuted from NJ to Manhattan by train to give a music theory lesson on a park bench to a student of mine from the Bronx because that was the halfway point for both of us and he was such a great student that it was totally worth it.
That said, I didn't make a habit out of taking 90 minutes out of my day for just anybody. And those extreme cases of commuting are days left behind me now. The reality is this. Commuting is just extra time taken out of your day that you cannot get back.
What I love about online lessons is that as long as you have an instrument and an internet connection, you have complete freedom of location. It no longer matters if you’re on vacation. Hell, it doesn’t matter if I’m on vacation! If the schedule’s line up, the online lesson can continue which is obviously never the case with private face to face lessons.
Another thing to add that’s probably more obvious is that you no longer have to worry about a commute...
For example, let’s be conservative and say you commute 15 minutes each week to get to a private music school for your son or daughter’s lesson. Okay. So then you factor another 15 minutes to bring them home after the lesson each week. That’s an extra 30 minutes you would carve out to bring your kid back and forth to a school. Though I’m sure that’s manageable for most parents, it is something that you have to shape your entire schedule around right? On the parenting end, scheduling can be a nightmare. Though some parents can get lucky and have it all the kid's activities fit on the same day each week, that’s not the case for most people. So that means if you want your son/daughter to learn guitar, dance, and karate all in the same week, that’s probably an extra 30 to 60 minutes added to your commute time. And for kids, they get an extra half hour back as well. This could be time they use to rest or do their homework. Kid's have busy schedules too, and everyone could use more time to relax.
Again, what’s beautiful about doing remote guitar lessons is that you don’t have to carve out extra travel time which is time that could be spent elsewhere or in a more productive way.
And finally the 3rd reason to consider online lessons.
3. The ability to record the lesson
As you may realize at this point, I’m a pretty chatty Kathy when it comes to music. I tend to go off on tangents and love to explain the nuts and bolts of music and I try to bring a lot of enthusiasm and passion to each lesson in the process. Because of this, there’s a lot of dialogue haha. And though I make sure to do a lesson recap at the end along with sometimes filming the concepts or technique we’ve worked on, I’m sure that there are things that get lost in translation because it’s a conversation.
I use zoom in my online private lessons and what I personally love about it is the option to record the lessons. That way the student can go back and reference the discussion or demonstration again and again. This is perfect for people with busy schedules.
In closing, I feel there are pros and cons to both online and real-time types of lessons. It’s obviously up to you and what you feel is the best fit but given our current situation, I wanted to shed light on a few benefits that you may not have been aware of.