Thoughts on Teaching Virtually? (All Teachers)

  • Roda Odari

    June 12, 2020 at 10:09 pm

    This is an interesting place I have never ventured to: teaching virtually.  Most students are enjoying it because they appreciate the human interaction at such a difficult time.  I use WhatsApp because nothing else seemed to work.  It is quite a tiring but rewarding time because I have to think of ways to explain then illustrate musical concepts in 30 minutes.  I also have to ensure that my students can see my hands on the keys as I play.  I also insist on seeing their hand position on the keys.  Posture is key and I just keep reminding them to sit up straight.  Virtual lessons though, are a bit challenging for those who started lessons less than three months ago.  The other students who have had lessons for longer are thriving in the virtual world we have found ourselves in without choice.

  • Alan Tang

    June 13, 2020 at 10:59 am

    In my opinion, virtual lessons especially 1-2-1 may be the future. From a personal point of view, my other job is a school teacher and teaching music in a school will probably be the most difficult subject to teach. This is due to a classroom of keyboards or computers/ tablets or other instruments that many students will use. Of course, as a school community, appropriate measures will have taken place, but ensemble work is such an important element in music not just for enjoyment but also developing other musical skills and disciplines. If and when I am able to return to school, one decision I have made is to not have face to face lessons when I have been at school during the day. I feel I must take responsibility for this and for the time being ensure the safety of myself and students that are not in my ‘school bubble’. 

    Over this period I have taught a couple of online lessons on a regular basis. I have used either Zoom or FaceTime. Both have their advantages. FaceTime will obviously only work if it is an Apple to Apple to product but is generally the most temperamental. Both apps do allow the camera to switch which enables me to show what to do for students. I tend to request that the camera is on the same side of where I normally sit to provide ‘normality’. This has generally worked with the only change requiring me to pause and switch the camera around, etc. The only aspect that I find slightly tricky is in advanced sections, I am unable to show examples with both hands as I am holding the tablet with the other!!!! I too in this new situation can actually take a closer look at posture and hand position which I may have presumed in 1-2-1 situations. In Zoom you are able to share content such and in school meetings it has been quite easy to share PPTs/ PDFs, word documents, etc. I have not yet tried short videos but it may be possible. 

    I do feel that I am working a little ‘harder’ for online lessons as I am reflecting more on best ways of demonstrating to students but also taking more time to write up lesson notes and send them to students/ parents after the lesson has been completed. There are obviously GDPR factors with this and I am clear who I send lesson notes to as one parent requested that I send the notes to her children’s email addresses. 

     I like all teachers continue to reflect and try to see what I can do better and in this situation I would like better technology. As a gigging musician, I have had conversations with fellow musicians and discussed the future of live gigs. A lot of the chatter has been about 360 degrees rotating cameras which you may have seen at action in famous musician performances in recent times. In gigs this creates more of an atmosphere in which camera angles change. I think this could work for teachers as you can have one camera focused on the teacher and the other on the instrument? 

    In my opinion, this pandemic is a massive game changer for peripatetic music teachers especially. Face to face lessons offers a far more personal approach to teaching and for the time being this may be paused for obvious reasons. From a school teacher perspective, I think the consequences are potentially greater. There will be a greater focus on core subjects and arts based subjects may be deemed as less important as students try to catch up on aspects of their education that has been lost. As well as this, practical music may be viewed as higher risk and there will be a move towards more theory based lessons. I am slightly torn with this, as I believe that ALL students should have a strong theory foundation but ultimately it should be as practical as possible!

  • Roda Odari

    August 10, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    A quick tip on where to place your phone…. Use a conductors music stand.  It works well as you can put it behind you to show what you are playing as well.  I have even placed my phone on the floor to show a young student how to place the heel on the floor to peddle correctly.  What a strange time we’re living in!

  • Roda Odari

    August 10, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    Sadly, Alan, you are right.  Emphasis will shift towards core subjects.  Also, with people loosing their jobs, music lessons won’t be priority.  I have lost a few students unable to pay….

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