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6 Tips for an Awesome First Online Music Lesson

6 Tips for an Awesome First Online Music Lesson

This post will help parents prepare to smoothly and successfully transition their child from in-person to online music lessons.

first online music lesson
This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through an affiliate link, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you. For more information, read the disclosure.

This post will help parents prepare for their child’s first online music lesson and help smoothly and successfully transition their child from in-person to online music lessons.

This post is Part 3 in a series on starting online music lessons.

Read Part 1: “The #1 Predictor of Success in Online Music Lessons.”

Read Part 2: “6 Steps to Faster Internet for Online Music Lessons.”

Read Part 4: 4 Mistakes Parents Make in an Online Violin Lesson.

Why we’re moving to online music lessons

This topic is on everyone’s mind these days. With the spread of the coronavirus, so many institutions are responding to the call for social distancing. Private music teachers across the world are taking their lessons online, too.

But now is not the only time when online music lessons are coming in handy. Online violin lessons were a lifesaver for my music teacher colleagues and me last winter during the polar vortex. It was literally so cold in Minnesota that everything shut down and we couldn’t leave the house!

Whether your child is switching to online music lessons because of a health precaution, mandated quarantine, weather, personal preference, distance or schedule constraints, or another reason entirely, I’m going to share some key things that will help set you and your child up for online music lesson success.

first online music lesson

Here are 6 things you need to know before your child’s first online music lesson:

1. Online music lessons are not ideal for every child.

But then again, in-person lessons are not ideal for every child, either. Online music lessons are certainly better than no lessons at all!

Some children will immediately thrive when their music lessons move online, and other children may take longer to adjust.

That’s okay.

If your child is older or more advanced, the transition to online lessons will likely be easier for them. If your child is younger or is a beginner, you, your child, and your child’s teacher will likely need to be more flexible in coming up with creative solutions. But that’s part of the fun and adventure of online music lessons.

Having said that, there are certain things you can do to greatly increase the chances of success with your child’s online music lessons, including creating a home environment conducive to learning.

first online music lesson

2. It’s more important than ever to create a distraction-free zone.

No matter the device you use–whether it’s a desktop, laptop, phone, or tablet–turn off notifications before the lessons. Even a quick little ding with a text or email will pique your child’s curiosity and let them stray off course from what the teacher is trying to do.

Rest the screen somewhere at your child’s eye level. The bigger the screen, the easier it will probably be for your child to watch, discern small changes in technique, and pay attention.

Don’t try to hold your phone up for an entire lesson for your child to see. Your arm will get tired, the screen will wobble, and you’ll all get seasick!

A lot of students practice and have their online lessons in the same spot in their home. It’s fun for the teacher to see where the student practices. Knowing more about a student’s practice spot can help a teacher problem-solve any practice problems–for example, is the lighting too dim to read the notes properly?

It can be really tempting for you, as the parent, to get distracted with off-screen things, like sneaking a snack, helping another child with a project, or answering the phone. If it truly is urgent, then definitely go ahead and resolve the crisis. But most distractions can wait until the lesson is over.

first online music lesson

3. The technology will make or break your child’s online music lesson.

Every teacher has different preferences for technology and platforms. I know different teachers who use or have tried all of these platforms:

  • Zoom
  • FaceTime
  • Google Hangouts
  • Skype
  • YOUBRIO
  • Ding Talk
  • Microsoft 360
  • WhatsApp
  • WebEx
  • Google Duo

My favorite, hands down, is Zoom. But depending on your location and internet situation, a different platform might suit you and your teacher better.

Before your child’s first online music lesson, test your technology at home. Maybe most importantly, get your internet as fast as possible. Then spend some time on the platform yourself, familiarizing yourself with what the features are and where the buttons are. You’ll feel so much more confident!

Your teacher might ask you to do a test call before your scheduled lesson time. This is another thing that will not only familiarize you with the technology, but it will also help soothe any technical worries.

There are a few extra things you can do to help technology do its job.

  • Fully charge your device before the lesson and have a charger nearby, just in case.

Since video chat drains battery life quickly, you could even keep the device plugged in during the lesson.

  • If you or your student has a hard time hearing the teacher, you could use a speaker. 

And remember that taking online music lessons requires really good listening skills from everyone. You will all get better at listening and decoding with some time and experience.

first online music lesson

4. The content of your lessons may evolve, but the long-term goals stay the same.

My goal as a violin teacher is to help students learn to do two things: one, to play the violin correctly and beautifully, and two, to love music.

Online music lessons absolutely help us accomplish those two goals together.

However, some activities that are staples with in-person lessons are just not well suited to online music lessons. For example, playing simultaneously rarely works. If there’s any sort of time lag, it’s not really possible or helpful. So the teacher might direct you to some YouTube videos or audio files for your child to play along with during the lesson or at home.

Some activities that lend themselves really well to online music lessons are ear training, music history and putting a piece in context, and doing written work.

MORE: Check out these fun and free violin worksheets:

5. Always have a backup plan for when the technology glitches.

Occasionally, the video or sound quality will flake and the lesson can’t proceed. A back-up plan is a great thing to discuss with your child’s teacher before the first lesson. In fact, this is a great topic to cover during a test call with the teacher.

One idea for a backup plan is to take a video of your child’s practice session (roughly the same length as the lesson) and send it to the teacher. You can do this via Dropbox or Google Drive or use a video app like Marco Polo.

Then the teacher can send a video back to you, teaching to what they saw from your child’s playing.

But if the internet is seriously glitching and can’t handle any big files, your Plan C might be to email the teacher outlining practice victories and challenges from the week and asking specific questions. Then the teacher can write an email reply with specific teaching points and tell what the next steps should be.

Obviously, Plan A is the ideal. But don’t be afraid to come up with a Plan B or C or even D. Sometimes life just happens. An email lesson is still better than no lesson at all! 

6. Your attitude is the most important predictor of success.

If you see the transition to online music lessons as an adventure, your child will be more likely to mirror your enthusiasm. 

I feel that this point is so essential that I devoted another entire blog post to it: “The #1 Predictor of Success in Online Music Lessons.”

tips for online lessons

Your Turn

So there they are: 6 tips for an awesome first online music lesson. What tips and tricks do you have to share, and what questions do you have about transitioning to online music lessons? Let me know below!

This post is Part 3 in a series on starting online music lessons.

Read Part 1: “The #1 Predictor of Success in Online Music Lessons.”

Read Part 2: “6 Steps to Faster Internet for Online Music Lessons.”

Read Part 4: 4 Mistakes Parents Make in an Online Violin Lesson.

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Caitlin Smith

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Hey, I’m Caitlin.

I’m Caitlin, a violin-playing, Harry-Potter-reading, pug-adoring musician. I love kids and the violin, and I love teaching kids the violin. I created Practice Pizzazz to help you have fun learning and practicing, all while keeping technical and musical integrity. Read More

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