Should You Offer Online Music Lessons?

September 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Posted in music education | 1 Comment
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Beethoven once said “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” Music teachers know lessons can be just as rewarding for themselves as for their students. Unfortunately, there isn’t always a steady influx of students seeking conventional lessons. Using the Internet to facilitate music lessons privately or even in online college classes can still be enjoyable and beneficial for both you and your students, but there are some things to consider before you take your services to the Net.

How Comfortable Are You With Technology?

Connective technology has made it easier to offer music lessons online. Widespread access to broadband internet coupled with the emergence of social media and file sharing services has made the realm of virtual music education part of our current reality. Free video chat programs such as FaceTime and Skype make it easy for you to offer music lessons from your home on one side of the country to students on the opposite coast, and instructors can easily check progress and keep up with former students.

However, all of these marvels depend heavily not only on the technology to facilitate them, but on your ability to use (and help your students use) that technology. Decide how comfortable you are with the technologies you’ll need to use before offering online music lessons. Give yourself some time to get comfortable with how the tools you’ll need before you dive into actually offering lessons online. If students get cut off or have trouble staying in touch with you, they aren’t going to be happy.

Meanwhile, no matter how great technology gets, there’s still something to be said for face to face contact between a teacher and student when learning a musical instrument. If you don’t feel it’s enough to offer tips and note progress as you watch a student practice over the Web, offering lessons online may not be right for you in the first place. Remember, it doesn’t have to be one way or the other. You can still offer lessons in person while offering online lessons, or supplement face to face lessons with web-based practice.

Sound Quality

Being able to hear the notes played by a student is a big part of a music lesson. This serves two main purposes. First, you judge students’ progress. Second, you can hear if their instruments are properly tuned. Some audio experts contend that some of the original quality is lost in digital audio. Realistically, though, there isn’t generally ever going to be enough loss that you won’t be able to tell how students are progressing or whether they’re in tune.

However, some instruments, such as cello and other string instruments, have certain subtle notes that are easier to detect in person. Ultimately, it’s a judgment call based on the instruments your students want to study. If you’re concerned about sound quality with some instruments, make a list of what lessons you will give online and which you prefer to offer in person.

How Do You Want To Reach Your Students?

By offering music lessons online you have the opportunity to reach more students. It’s very easy to advertise your lessons online. Without the need to transport yourself for lessons, it’s also easier to manage and keep appointments. Before you consider offering lessons online, decide how many new students you’re willing and able to accept. If you only have time for a few students a week, chances are you don’t need to offer lessons online in addition to your in-person clients. Decide how many students you can realistically manage and set limits. Additionally, consider if you just want students from the United States or if you’re willing to accept international students (and the additional associated administrative complexities).

Once again, remember you don’t have to stop giving lessons in person if you start offering them online. Particularly if you need more business as an instructor, it might be a good idea to consider web-based lessons. You’ll have the opportunity to reach potential students without the limitations of location. Assess your current financial situation to consider if it is worth the effort to set up online lessons. Web-based music instruction is great, but it has to be an option that will ultimately benefit you as well as the students you’ll be teaching.

How Flexible Is Your Schedule?

Not being bound by specific geographic location allows you to teach music to students anytime and anywhere. You have more flexibility in setting up your lessons. By the same token, students from across the country or even around the world will want to learn at different times. This means you’ll need to adjust your schedule accordingly depending on when you and your students are available. However, this doesn’t mean you have to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Keep in mind that you can set a schedule and make video presentations and audio files available to students to practice on their own when you’re not available.

How much effort can you put into it? Online lessons require active involvement as much as face to face instruction. Decide if you have the time to promote yourself online. This includes creating an appealing website detailing your services and placing ads online. You can also promote yourself through social media at little or no expense. Whether you decide to offer lessons online exclusively or in addition to what you do now, the endeavor will only be worthwhile if you have the time to make it work.

Learning how to play an instrument is a skill to be appreciated for a lifetime and passed on to future generations. It takes a special person to teach music to others in a way that inspires and instills true passion and commitment. If you’re willing to make the effort, you can extend the scope of your teaching with web-based instruction and bring that passion for music to students you otherwise never would reach.

 

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