• Rachel Broadbent

Zoom! MSTeams! A parents guide to online musical instrument lessons

Over the last week I have had way more than a learning curve, it has been more like vertical take off but like all music teachers I am relieved I have been able to continue my work in some way. It may not be perfect, it may not be ideal, but I have seen a huge amount of positives from the teaching I have done so far. I know some parents are concerned about online music lessons and don't see much point in them, but please, give them a try. I am not saying that because music teachers are desperate to continue to earn a living (which they are) but for the following reasons.


Your child has been having 1 to 1 tuition from their music teacher for a while, it is part of your child's weekly routine. Routines have gone out of the window in most respects so continuing something from that old routine could really help. There are many extra skills developed when learning a musical instrument that carry through into everything else your child will do and can be hugely beneficial as seen in the list below.

  • Improve reading skills, increase vocabulary and language ability.

  • Develop listening skills, aural awareness, abstract thinking and imagination.

  • Increase memory skills, builds concentration and attention span.

  • Build social skills, self-discipline, patience and improve behaviour.

  • Stimulate and strengthen the same part of the brain needed for maths and reasoning.

  • Playing a musical instrument helps develop fine motor skills.

  • Build confidence and emotional growth and make a happier child.

  • Perseverance in overcoming difficulties.

  • Music performance teaches kids to deal with nerves and stressful presentation situations like interviews.

  • Children who have music lessons score higher in their SATs writing, maths & science and higher grades in general.

  • Music lessons develop the skills that provide a firm foundation for learning.

Your child may not seem to be making fast progress on their instrument, it doesn't matter, they are learning a huge number of skills and as long as they are enjoying it then think of all those skills they are developing.



Online lessons

I have given lessons on Zoom and Teams so far and I haven't noticed a huge difference between them. They have both worked well and I have managed to teach some successful oboe lessons. We won't overcome all the sound quality issues or the time lag but there are many other little things we can do to make these lessons really successful. I have noticed that all my students have remained hugely engaged throughout the lesson and I have had numerous messages from parents after the lessons to say how much their son or daughter enjoyed it.



Preparation

As I have said, it’s a huge learning curve for all of us and these are a few things that make the lessons go more smoothly


  • Set up - think about the instrument you play and maybe check with your teacher before the lesson to find out the best camera position prior to the lesson starting. I teach the oboe and when I teach I always sit side on to the student, his means I see the students posture, embouchure, how hight their fingers are moving away from the keys and when in a room with them I can see the music as well. Online I don’t need to see the music (I’ll come to that in a moment) but the rest is really important. If a student faces the laptop or ipad that they are working through I can’t see everything I need to and the sound tends to overwhelm the built-in microphones.

  • Pencil – this is a vital piece of equipment for the student. It is for any musician but now the teacher can’t write things in the music for them they will need to stop and write things in themselves. Maybe have a notebook that they can jot things down in as well as and when they feel the need.

  • Get your instrument out and ready before the lesson goes on-line, this way you get to start straight away.

  • Music – As I can’t see my students music any more I do always follow a copy of the music as I generally have most of the music my students are playing. Sometimes teachers don’t have all the music and until they manage to get a copy it would be hugely helpful to just take a scan of it and email it to them so they can give really good instruction during the lesson.

  • Go through before the lesson and write bar numbers into any piece you are playing. Your teacher will do exactly the same to their music. This means the teacher can just say, ‘can you play from bar 20’ without a massive gap while the student has to count 20 bars before playing.

I may add to this blog as the online teaching develops but for now, please stick with it, my students have been fantastic and have really enjoyed it. Surely for that reason alone it is worth giving it a go!

Good Luck and Good Health to you all x


P.S.

I always put some musical inspiration at the end of my blog posts so.....


well, we all need a smile right now! The music is the Dies Irae from the Requiem by Verdi and this is how it normally looks and sounds.




and now this lad seems to play ALL the instruments!




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