Online lessons and their effectiveness is a common conversation at the moment. We operate more and more virtually. Some embrace this, others not so much.
2020 was my first taste of teaching online, out of necessity. I’d flirted with the idea for a few years previously but I obviously needed a bigger push. Here’s what I’ve learned in the last 2 1/2years…
Lessons online can be very effective if they have the magical combo of a competent teacher and a student comfortable (or desiring to get tech savvy) with learning online.
They have proven valuable when people who usually attend face to face are unable to make a lesson eg time, car issues, childcare.. I had a student who had social anxiety and opted for 2 lessons online until she felt ready to attend in person again. Another student has been commuting from Glasgow to Liverpool for work, he has face to face when in Liverpool and online lessons when in Glasgow.
No location restrictions means I have students all over the UK and International students who have contacted me for lessons because they felt I was the right teacher for them or their children.
I had students migrate to online lessons during lockdown and a third of them have stayed online because it worked so well for them. These were families who have lots of time commitments and not always time or a vehicle to make it to lessons in person.
Things to do to make online lessons go as smoothly as possible..
1. BASIC TECH ABILITY
Lessons need someone with some technical ability to operate video apps and audio. Make sure the video frame has the parts of the guitar you need to see and conversations can be heard clearly and with enough light to see clearly. Look out for links to the lesson eg zoom
2. A QUIET (ISH) ROOM WITH NO (OR MINIMAL) DISTRACTIONS
A room with a TV, music, children playing or loud conversations is not helpful. I’ve had lessons with younger students who have siblings taunting them or pets (and an Xbox) they want to play with. Adults and children need a space where they are comfortable and can concentrate on the lesson. If this is not possible the lessons can still be effective providing other people in the room facilitate the environment being quietish. Otherwise it begs the question: Is this a waste of money?
3. FUNCTIONING EQUIPMENT AND A DECENT WiFi SIGNAL
Lessons with weak WiFi signals cause dips in sound and freezes to the video and audio, causing disruption to the lesson. It’s hard to get a flow. Being able to see and hear clearly is a must for student and teacher.
Teachers – Make sure you send any links in advance eg Zoom. Make sure the student knows where you’ll be sending the link to (email, phone etc) .
Have any reference material you need to hand (digital, website, paper). Being ready for the student is the strongest foundation for an effective lesson. Sometimes things will go off on a tangent, this is OK too if the student has asked a question. Just be ready to back it up and send them any follow up material or notes to solidify what you’ve covered.
Students – Have your guitar tuned. Have accessories like picks and capos ready. Sign into the lesson on time. Have your tablet already turned on. Have lesson materials to hand and ready to play.
If it’s a first time lesson make sure your equipment (tablet or computer) is working. Audio and video are functioning properly
Make sure the conversation and instructions can be heard clearly and the relevant parts of the guitar/hands can be seen in the video frame (student and teacher).
It can be difficult with things like accompaniment as there is a time delay. I make sure students have backing tracks they can start and stop from their end when they are working on grades. If somebody is working on improvisation it’s also best if they have a link or file of a backing track they have control over starting and stopping.
I really enjoy the lessons I have with students online. It’s really about the person and whether they respond to it well. If you put in place all the suggestions I lay out above it gives the best chance of a smooth flowing effective and enjoyable online guitar lesson.
If you’d like online lessons with myself or have any questions please get in touch: