We have all been thrown into online lessons whether we wanted to be teaching online or not. I have been teaching online since 2016 when I moved from South Florida to Cleveland Ohio. I have several students who wanted to continue their lessons with me, so I started teaching using FaceTime.
Here are some things that make online teaching easier for me and my students and may help you as well. I am not covering set-up and technical issues in this post as most of you already have your online set-up in place.
1 – Get comfortable. Get a comfortable chair, set things up so you can stand if you need to. Being physically comfortable is step one in making online lessons easier.
2 – Grab a cup of coffee or your favorite drink. Treat yourself, you deserve it!
3 – Change your schedule. Online teaching is more demanding for us. However, just about everyone has some flexibility right now. I set my schedule up so that I don’t have more than six students in a row.
4 – Keep a pen and paper handy to take notes.
When Working With Your Students
1 –Assign easier repertoire. Cut your students (and yourself) some slack. Take a step back and assign some fun easy to learn pieces.
2 – If a student is struggling, work in small chunks. Learn a measure, learn the next measure then put them together, and so on. Cover what you can and assign this to your student for practice. For more advanced students who can read well and work independently, this may be a great time to take on some new challenges. But for a lot of students taking a step back and assigning something easier to learn is a good way to go.
4 – Offer to check in with students during the week. I have been telling my students that if they are confused about something or run out of things to do to contact me and I can jump on Facetime and help them out or give them some more work. (I do this even when in-person lessons are taking place.)
3 – Games and videos. I find these essential. About midway through the lesson, my students and I play a game, or I choose a short video for my student to watch. The mental break does wonder for my student’s focus and attitude. It also helps me.
4 – Choose a theme of the week. Last week I had my students focus on reviewing musical terms. We played a musical terms game. This week the theme is Baroque music, next week we will explore the Classical period. This not only is educational but fun as well!
5 – Be encouraging. Our students are getting used to this new way of teaching as much as we are. Tell them how great they are doing! Pump them up, help them to feel good about giving online lessons a chance.
6 – Keep track of assignments. I am using the Tonara app with most of my students which I highly recommend. It’s a fun way to keep in touch and keep track of practice. You can even send and receive messages and recordings. If your students are not using Tonara, Have them write their assignments in a notebook and read it back to you.
I have all of my student’s music in pdf format making it easy to email to parents. Of course, most of the music I use is on my website palomapiano.com. Teachers pay a small membership fee and are licensed to download everything on the website and use it with their own students for as long as they are members. (There are a lot of free things available right now.)
There are many other composers offering printable music with studio licenses. Making storing and sending super easy.
Keep it simple. Choose a few pieces at a few different levels for your students. For right now it’s Ok if multiple students are playing the same piece.
I love my piano parents! Every one of them is focused on what is best for their children. I really want to make sure they know that I appreciate them. If you have young children at home and out of school right now you know that this is an especially challenging time. Here are some ideas.
1 – At the beginning or the end of the lesson be sure to say hello to parents and ask how they are doing.
2 – Send emails regularly with updates and music and resources for the students.
3 – Send a text letting parents know when their child has had a great lesson.
4 – Be caring, be concerned, stay positive.
5 – Plan a zoom meeting and get together with families for some enjoyable and music educational activities.
I am working hard to provide the resources that my students need and I am sharing everything with other teachers. I am making more music and resources free so as to help teachers organize and plan their week. I have been sending an email out sharing my weekly theme including resources and a list of free pieces on Sunday evening.
To get yours visit www.palomapiano.com
Keep going, teachers. We all have a positive part to play. This crisis will pass hopefully soon.
Many thanks to our health care and essential workers.