Online Teaching and Why I Think It’s Here to Stay

I’m never going to stop teaching online.



I know I’m a bit of a Pollyanna and I have a tendency to focus on silver linings. Even before the pandemic, people were occasionally taken aback by my optimism and self-assuredness. I can’t help it!


The topic that I want to discuss this week is online learning. I know so many musicians who are begrudgingly teaching online and they can’t wait until we have in-person lessons again. Not me! There may be a small handful of local students from pre-pandemic that I’ll work with in person, but the bulk of my students are scattered across multiple time zones! I love teaching online—it suits me well.


I taught online before the pandemic a few times with mixed results, but with recent updates in Zoom, I truly believe that online lessons are as effective as in-person lessons for most students.


There is some adapting that we have to do and some technology that’s worth investing in. I’ve found every upgrade to be worth it to improve the efficacy of my teaching.


There are a few reasons why I don’t think that online lessons are going away, and why I think that’s a great thing. I also created a quick guide called “Level Up Your Online Teaching” which outlines my set up and includes helpful tips which you can download here by subscribing to my weekly emails. (I promise I won’t spam you!)


The Pandemic Has Legitimized Online Learning


Millions of students across the planet have now attended school remotely. Even if it was just for the initial shutdown for a few weeks or months, the students who attended school online now understand that learning online is a practical medium to further their education.


They can be in the safe space of their own rooms and work with a teacher who has a plan to help them grow.


Parents know they can save time by not having to travel to a teacher’s place of work, when they can instead help their child connect to Zoom and call it a day. In addition to the hour(-plus) that they’ve gained, they saved money on gas and maybe parking as well. Likewise, for teachers that commute, we save time and money, and are able to book students in closer succession. No more eating dinner in the car!


A New Market Is Open


Now that folks in the 9-5 grind have had a chance to work from home, many will want to continue doing so. In this, they gain several extra hours a day that were previously spent commuting. Many of them are filling their spare time with joyful hobbies including music creation.


Previously it was rare to find adult amateurs taking lessons in their 30s, 40s, and 50s because they were in the height of their careers and busy with their families. Now, many are flocking to music-making as a source of comfort.


Best Teacher-Student Match


Students are no longer limited to teachers that are near them geographically. Instead of going to the best teacher in their town, or the closest teacher down the road, students can elect to study with a teacher that inspires them that they found on Instagram or YouTube.


A student can find a fantastic teacher-student match by recognizing the strengths of a teacher through content they’ve made available online. Releasing video tutorials can draw students to you who can instantly see the value you will bring them in lessons. Creating downloadable PDFs can effectively convey useful information while helping foster the “know, like, and trust” factor which is critical in decision-making.


I know which kind of student I am attracting through my content: students that are keen, hardworking, and passionate. They recognize that there are gaps in their knowledge and they are eager to learn and to fill those gaps.


Streamline Learning


There’s a lot of wasted time in in-person lessons that I think some of us, myself included, were unaware of.


Students can “arrive” warmed up at the start of lessons. For oboe this is a game changer. Arriving at a lesson and then needing to soak reeds, assemble the instrument, and then warm up eats away at 5-10 minutes of a lesson. It’s fantastic to be able to get to work right away.


Additionally, it’s great to be able to send my students the resources I make, including tutorials. They get much more value out of lessons when they can refer to relevant tutorials on an issue they’re working through. You can take this a step further and create a membership area on your website where students can download resources such as practice logs, diagrams, explanations, and more. Students can feel when their teacher is truly invested in their growth.


Adapting


As a teacher, I hope