Technology has the ability to launch revolutions. And for the last two decades, at least, the internet has fueled innovations that have disrupted almost every industry. It has spawned technologies that have radically changed the way we learn, work, and play everyday. For music learners and teachers alike, the internet has opened a new model that has changed the way music lessons are conducted.
How the Internet Changed the World
From behemoth enterprises like Google, Facebook, and Amazon to the one man businesses, teachers, engineers, and other freelancers serving clients in disparate locations, there is no end to the internet’s sphere of influence.
According to statistics, a mind-blowing 3.7 billion people are now connected and thousands more are connected everyday.
How The Internet Changed Music Lessons?
Instant messaging and video conferencing apps, streaming services, file sharing, cloud computing, and different SAAS technologies have made it easier for teachers to conduct lessons via the internet.
And although online lessons have both pros and cons, there is no longer a need for teachers and students to meet at physical locations for lessons to take place. You can now meet your student or teacher online, at any time of day and conduct or receive lessons. Even if you're not sure what online lessons will be like and whether it will work for you, remember one thing...without the internet this simply would not be possible.
Neither the teacher nor the student needs any special knowledge or equipment for online lessons. Technology has gotten to the point where only some basic computer literacy skills, a smartphone or computer with webcam, and a reliable internet service is all it takes.
Technological Tools That Make Music Lessons Possible
Here is a list of the top resources that has enabled modern technology to change the face of music lessons forever...
YouTube has seen rapid growth since the first video was uploaded on this sharing platform in 2005. Current statistics show a staggering 3.25 billion hours of video content is watched on YouTube every month. The interactive nature of the site’s community of users is a big reason for its popularity.
Search data has shown the site is very popular with people looking for free music lessons. One of the most watched piano lessons’ video has over seven million views. In fact, guitar lessons are one of the most popular search queries on YouTube.
The prime reason why the site has become so popular for learners is because the content shared is practically free. But YouTube does have its drawbacks, mainly because it does not offer paid subscription options where qualified and experienced teachers can charge for their time.
For that reason, more reputable teachers shun the medium. Those who choose to use it will likely only offer free, teaser lessons with the intention of luring learners over to their own websites or other channels like Skype where they can schedule paid lessons.
The pioneer of video chat, Skype has over 300 million active worldwide users. The app enables music teachers to give lessons to students from all over the world via video chat. As long as the teacher has a means of accessing their payments, they can pretty much enroll students from any part of the world.
Skype offers limitless opportunities for music educators, as well as students who may not have access to qualified teachers for one on one lessons.
That Skype has an embedded instant messaging feature also helps. It makes it easy to schedule lessons, and even to share study material as users can send and receive documents, audio, as well as video material.
Skype is a viable medium for conducting distance music lessons. But the app has its own challenges. To make the most out of every lesson the teacher has to perfect their verbal skills. You will need to speak at a pace and tone that the student can understand.
As you are not in the same place, you cannot physically help a student do some things, like how to hold an instrument properly. You have to explain it to them.
Complicating this factor is the common challenge of lag, where sound takes a bit longer than video to transmit over the line. As a result you end up speaking at the same time and fail to hear each other properly.
3. Google Hangouts
Hangouts is a latter entrant to the video chat market but offers pretty much the same experience of online interaction for people in different locations. Just like Skype, it offers voice and video chat, and text messaging capabilities.
Both Skype and Google Hangouts allow group video conferencing, which enables teachers to conduct lessons for students in different locations at once. However, Hangouts does have one significant benefit over Skype. It integrates with the Google suite of apps, including YouTube, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Keep, and others. This enables greater real time collaboration and resource sharing.
Many music teachers now run websites and blogs, which help them stay engaged to their communities. Besides this, websites present a viable option for organic lead generation. By consistently publishing free content, teachers can connect with potential students who search the internet for reference material and study aids.
Besides promoting their businesses, music teachers can restrict sections of the website to paying members only. Subscribing students will have access to a library of content in different formats, including video and audio.
Perhaps an online tool that is more adapted to online music lessons are webinars. Basically video conferences to which students can register, webinars enable teachers to schedule group online classes for specially segmented students. This is a rapidly growing model that more and more music teachers are now pursuing.
A great attraction for webinars is that they are significantly cheaper than private lessons. They are a viable way for teachers to offer affordable instruction for students on tight budgets. Just as well, teachers can use webinars to continue providing lessons for students who have either moved or can no longer travel to private lessons due to other commitments.
There are apps like onlinepianist that students can download and use to learn new songs. But there are more mainstream apps that teachers especially can use to prepare lessons and manage their businesses. There are now applications and tools for all manner of tasks including:
These online tools and apps have made it easier for music teachers to research, prepare, and share new learning material with students from one place. Tools like Evernote and the Google suite of tools are great for this, but students too can use the same tools, and a lot others, to enrich, and keep track with, their training.
How Things are Better Now
Without doubt, technology has changed the face of music lessons forever. Granted, online music lessons are not without its own set of challenges. For one, there is no physical interaction. Broadband issues and a poor quality computer can also disrupt lessons.
And some instruments, like piano, are generally more difficult to teach online than others. But the impact of the internet on distance music learning has been transformational.
Yet, even with all the benefits we have argued for online music lessons, you can’t look past their ability to produce truly motivated students. As students have greater control over their learning experience, they tend to be more satisfied.
Teachers know that students who sign up for these lessons are driven to learn because the lessons require absolute concentration. These are students who want to learn.
If the teacher provides the right quality of instruction and learning material, there is no reason why online lessons can’t be as good as private face-to-face lessons....not to mention being cheaper and more accessible!
About the Author: Helen Baker
I am a freelance teacher and writer based in Ann Arbor, MI. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, I spent some time teaching English in Paris and, thereafter, returned to Ann Arbor where I was involved both in the media and academics. Currently I am a stay at home mom, working as a freelance writer and teacher. I love all my guitars and I also have an affinity towards old grand pianos. I love singing, traveling, reading, writing, watching films and spending quality time with my husband.