Why are we still skeptical about online music education?

Today many parents and a large number of teachers, secretly or publicly, still doubt online education and its outcomes. At first glance, this is not surprising, because online education came to life not so long ago. In 2019, quarantine forcibly transferred all of us, including education, to the virtual world and exposed us to a new challenge.

Many teachers unpreparedly jumped into the digital environment, where they had to learn quickly, under great pressure from the newness, how to ‘get on’ in the digital classroom. This isn’t surprising at first sight either – faculties could not have foreseen that online education could be one of the real options for education, and therefore, they did not formally prepare them for that kind of a solution.

Under such circumstances, professors were exposed to some kind of a test. Whether they will create an aversion to the new or will they adapt to all possibilities that are offered by the digital environment and rearrange teaching methods in order to create effective and quality online lessons. We can clearly evaluate their results with the results of students, which logically leads us to the satisfaction or the skepticism of parents towards this type of education.

If we look from a different angle, at the history of the use of computers and internet video calls, we can say with certainty that many professors from various institutions actually failed this kind of test. Computers were owned by most households at the beginning of the 21st century, the Internet was created more than 20 years ago, Skype, which everyone tried at some point, was created in 2003, Zoom application, which is gladly used as an online classroom, was founded In 2011, and the most used internet platform, Facebook, included video chats in 2014. So, we can conclude that most professors are at some point familiar with today’s technology and that online video calls are not so new that professors of all ages, especially the young ones, remain disarmed in the face of a new challenge.

A brief overview of current events in the world of education easily leads us to the general conclusion – a good online teacher is not afraid of the new. Good teachers have adapted to the digital environment in a short period of time and have seen the most effective ways that will successfully transfer knowledge to students.

 

Is it even possible to teach someone to play an instrument via camera?

When we talk about online music lessons, the first fact with which many people became averse to this type of classroom is the impossibility of physical contact. Such thinking is not surprising, because playing an instrument is a skill, and everyone understands that skill is not easy to explain without physical contact. However, many of them didn’t take into account that the other three teaching tools could successfully transfer all the necessary knowledge – the professors excluded the power of speech, visual materials, as well as the importance of sound (sung or played) performances. So, an online professor will explain in detail with words and with body movements all the necessary knowledge that he would point to in a traditional classroom silently, with one movement of his hand.

Although verbally describing a physical movement requires the patience and additional energy of the professor, our experience with over 200 students so far has shown us that all the knowledge acquired in the online classroom is more long-lasting than in the traditional ones. The reason for that is simple – the student must first understand the words that the teacher is telling him in order to perform them successfully.

For example, if you want to explain to a small child in an online classroom the correct position of the hand for piano playing, you can describe it with words that are familiar to him: the hand should look like a little spider walking on the piano, his legs (fingers) are rounded and strong, and if we bend our fingers while playing, the spider’s legs will break and that will hurt the spider a lot. The wrist will not be high, as if the T-Rex is playing, but will be relaxed like a butterfly’s wings. With that kind of description, not will he only understand what the hand should look like, but he will always remember what the hand should look like.

Defining any musical aspects can be more understandable if the teacher involves body movement during his speaking. Just as the conductor includes various body movements during the performance, giving clear indications to the performers when certain passages are performed quietly or loudly, staccato or legato, sharply or gently, an online music teacher should also include body movements in all his descriptions. This is especially important for technical parts of the performance. Besides showing the correct setting and the movement of, for example, his wrist while playing a certain part of a song, he can also demonstrate with his finger of the other hand how that wrist was moving.

Such an approach logically leads us to the next conclusion, which is that for online lessons it is extremely important to set up both cameras correctly during the lesson. As all professors and students were looking closely at the body movement in traditional classrooms, such diligence should be also transferred to the digital environment with the correct placement of the cameras. So, a few seconds of setting up the view should not be underestimated. In addition to the very affordable camera setup equipment, such as stands of various sizes and shapes, there are many informal ways to set up the camera, such as leaning the camera on an object or if possible on an instrument.

Comparing the traditional with the online classroom, good music teachers have seen the great advantage of a digital environment that provides more attractive, diverse, and understandable content for students, and these are the ‘tools’ offered by classroom teaching software. With them, students and professors can easily write and erase in a variety of colors and shapes, and all data can be saved and shared in just a few clicks. Also, any additional materials, such as photos, presentations, audio and video recordings (both professors and others published on the Internet), can now be included in lessons with ease with the screen sharing option. So, music lessons in the digital environment are no longer based only on verbal communication, which is mostly the case with traditional music lessons, but they are more interactive and more diverse with the presence of multimedia footage.

 

Conclusion

For a good teacher who has the desire to teach a child, no obstacle will debar him – he will always shrewdly look for all the ways to succeed in it. Period. That is why we always recommend to the parents of our students to observe our lessons so that they can see for themselves that it is very possible to hold successful online music classes when they have a good online teacher by their side.

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