Many teachers are relying on remote teaching during this time of social distancing.
If you explore this, keep communication and relationship on the “front burner.” All else is secondary. This helps make light of potential frustrations, both yours and your student’s.
Experiment with alternate formats. Perhaps 3 mini lessons per week? For example:
- Monday: Discuss objectives for the week.
- Wednesday: Monitor student’s practice
- Friday: Review student’s submitted video
As you find variations that work for you, here are more tips that you may find helpful:
1. Have your own copies of the student’s music. This makes it easier to communicate and demonstrate. And remember, distance teaching doesn’t mean going all digital. If you’re having trouble getting your hands on physical copies, call 877-FABER-411. For instant-access materials, browse the list of digital eBooks and sheets. More titles available each week!
2. Use tools you know. You can use any device with a built-in camera—phone, computer, or tablet. For software, you and your students likely already have FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, or Skype. Start off simply, and add as you gain confidence. Remember music is a listening artform. So even a simple phone call can be effective.
3. Rely on parents more. If your students are young, a parent or caregiver can assist with technology setup, moving the camera, and helping them stay focused.
4. Take advantage of a new perspective. How does your student’s home piano look? How’s their bench height? Does that piano need to be tuned? Be grateful for these new learnings about at-home practice!
5. Consider varying the format. Perhaps once per month, make a theme week, conducting two or three large group classes instead of private lessons. Consider fun topics like video game music, songwriting, or improvisation. Or, have students perform for each other. How about more frequent, but shorter check-in lessons? Perhaps a lesson just on monitoring practice.
6. A little prep time between lessons goes a long way! Scheduling 5-10 minutes between each lesson can be the difference between feeling frantic and feeling calm and available for your students.
7. Get advice from teachers with online teaching experience. Many of them are in our Piano Adventures Discussion Group on Facebook.
8. Challenge yourself to try something new each week. A new app, a new camera setup, or a new way of consolidating lesson notes. For example, Zoom offers advanced features like scheduling, waiting rooms, and multiple camera angles.
9. Try exchanging video or audio recordings. Sometimes a spotty Internet connection or other communication issue makes real-time videoconferencing difficult. Sending pre-recorded material and messaging feedback can be quite effective. It’s also a welcome “breather” for you, the teacher.
10. Remember this won’t last forever. But the experience you gain will last. The objective is simple: Keep your relationship at the forefront and keep the student practicing.