This article was originally posted on my other website, Last Row Music.
Chances are you came across this article because you are curious about online music lessons. Some teachers may offer this option in the private lesson studios, and you have wondered is it worth it. You may have asked questions such as:
1) Will my child still receive the same personal attention?
2) What happens if we lose internet connection?
3) What if I don’t feel comfortable with my child receiving lessons from a “stranger”?
4) Can the student still progress as if taking physical one-on-one lessons?
5) Is there a timer that shuts off the lesson and connection after 30 minutes?
These are some questions I have come across in talking with students and parents regarding online lessons, and I am sure there are others. HOWEVER, there are more positive points to online teaching that allow for interaction to stay the same as if the student and teacher were physically in the same room. I believe that teaching lessons online can be a great benefit to both students AND teachers with these five factors.
1) LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION!
Real Estate agents always talk about the location and convenience of a house on the market. The house is in a good school district; it is close to shopping; the property taxes are at a good, affordable rate. Many of these factors and more are considered to find the right home at the right price. The same can be true for finding a music teacher—What are his credentials? What instruments does he teach? Does he have experience with 10-year olds?
In both small, rural towns and large metropolitan areas, it can be difficult to find a teacher that is close and available. Often times, parents and students have to drive a good distance for a good teacher. With teaching online lessons, students can learn in the comforts of their own home. No more being stuck in traffic; no more traveling to a music store on the other side of town; no more realizing halfway to the lesson that Johnny forgot his music books. Online lessons make all of this go away, and allow for lessons to be stress-free as well as for schedules to be more relaxing and convenient for the parent and the student.
For teachers, think about the advantages you have with teaching online. Each week you could be virtually teaching in the “same place” but physically you may be in a different venue. There have been many times I have taught an online student in a practice room, my home studio, a classroom, or my university office. All I needed was an internet connection! Imagine how teaching online could open up your teaching and performing schedule.
2) COST EFFECTIVE
With location being an important factor, online lessons also can save you time and money! Many times teachers have to charge a higher rate to cover the cost of a variety of things: travel and gas, music store rental fee, music books, etc. Teachers are not trying to rip you off, but they want to make teaching lessons worth their time since for many, it is their full-time business.
For the parent or student, you are having to pay to cover for those expenses AS WELL AS personally pay to travel to the location. With gas prices fluctuating so much, the cost of Roseanne’s 30-minute trombone lesson can add up. For parents, it can be difficult to take your child to a physical location for lessons because you have to factor in traffic during rush hour, and decide if you will have time to head to the grocery store plus have dinner ready by 7:00. As cliché as it sounds, time is money and EVERYONE wishes there was more to pass around! With online lessons you are paying for one thing—THE TEACHER! You as the parent are able to still accomplish all you have on your checklist while at home, still cook dinner (and maybe even relax) while your child has her trumpet lesson in the comforts of your home.
Speaking of cost, how would a lesson be paid for if the student never physically sees the teacher. One word: PayPal. This financial institution has allowed for easy transfer of money that is SECURED. The parent/student simply sets up a FREE account and links a bank account to PayPal. Once the payment has been initialized, the teacher will receive the payment in a few short days without any knowledge of the parent’s account number. Even though PayPal charges a very, very small percentage to use their service, I would hope a music teacher would not factor that into their lesson rates….I certainly do not charge more to use PayPal.
3) THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY
Born in the late 1980s, I have been able to be raised alongside the Information Age. I have seen the advantages and disadvantages technology has given to society as well as what society has done to keep up with the changes. The age of an electronic product is quickly becomes old and outdated compared to other items. It is almost unheard of that someone could be using a laptop computer that was bought eight years ago (I currently am writing this on a 2006 HP that is on its third hard drive and still has Windows XP). Regardless, many people cannot (and decidedly will not) keep up with the daily changes technology has to offer.
The same can be said of online music lessons. “I don’t think my child can learn the same through a webcam or tablet then as he would through a physical one-on-one lesson.” I hear this a lot from parents as well as other music teachers. BUT imagine the possibilities if he or she tried to. The student actually make get more out of the lesson simply because technology is involved. Technology has allowed us to communicate to people all over the world. Businesses and corporations are meeting virtually with multiple investors and partners at the same time from literally all over the world. If multimillion dollar corporations are using technology to save money while still engaging in their clients, why can’t music teachers do the same when giving lessons? And since technology is getting better and faster everyday, those communication outlets are happening with more real, live interaction. Technology is strengthening communication, relationships, and knowledge. Why? Keep Reading!
Search engines such as Google and Bing have allowed us to access research right at our fingertips. If someone wanted to know ANYTHING, search engine optimization (SEO) allows you to find exactly what you are looking for. If you are looking for someone that teaches bagpipes in Dallas, TX, by simply searching for those specific words, “bagpipe teacher Dallas Texas”, you will receive over 42,000 results with those words mentioned on websites (seriously, try it!) What this allows for private teachers is the opportunity to market themselves. Parents and students no longer have to go to the local music store or local university to ask for a private lessons instructor. Again, from the comforts of their home, a parent can find all that they need for locating the best music instructor for their child.
That being said, music lesson instructors need to have a way to market themselves and create resources that lead potential students to them as the instructor. The music community is so close-knit because of networking and referrals, BUT if you are wanting to build a private lesson studio, parents are not necessarily going to know where to turn unless they do an online search of “bagpipe teacher in Dallas, Texas.” All in all, parents and students are looking online for music instructors. By creating an online presence with music resources that are readily accessable, you and your lesson studio can be found much easier.
Probably one of the bigger barriers for deciding to do online lessons is security — “Is my child going to be taking lessons from a complete stranger who is just trying to scam me?” While technology has allowed for easy access to many things, rest assured that many private lesson organizations require a background check to teach children. Some parents may not even look at a music teacher’s profile if there is no background report. Sometimes credentials of teaching at a university or public school can cover this factor, but for freelance instructors, get a Background check and have it available!
For my teaching studio, I also encourage the parents to listen in on the lessons so they can feel comfortable knowing who and what is teaching their child. By welcoming this, I have found this helps build a relationship with the family since you may never actually physically meet them. It shows that you care about the student and his growth.
In closing, I hope these five factors will peak your curiosity as a student and teacher for looking into online music lessons. To give or take online lessons the question to ask is, “Why Not?” For students, online lessons allow you to receive a quality music instructor that is the best fit for you, at an affordable rate, that gives you a little extra time in your day. Teachers, if you do not offer online music lessons, you are limiting yourself to the potential of opening your teaching market as well as saving you much personal expense.