Are in-person lessons really better than online instruction?

Online and Offline Classes at Musically Minded Academy

There is a common assumption that in-person lessons are more effective. We believe that in-person mid and large sized group lessons are more effective than online group lessons for the main reason that one cannot play synchronously with other students online. Yet, in terms of private and very small group lessons (with the 3 students per class), we strongly disagree that in-person lessons are more effective for students that have a strong internet connect and our suggested setup for online lessons.

Music teachers all around the world switched to online teaching during the pandemic and exchanged a wealth of information regarding tools and methods for having great online lessons. Much to our surprise, and the surprise of our students, many found that online lessons were  more effective for so many reasons!

• Insight into the home learning setup. We could suddenly see the student’s home setup and help them to adjust it to create a better working space for their practice.

• Camera Angles Provide better views. We use a variety of camera angles and have our students do the same, and with those, we can demonstrate techniques very effectively.

• Most Sheet Music is now instantly accessible online. Most publishing companies suddenly made all sheet music available online and, during online lessons, our students search for music at their level that they want to play. They have instant access to a world wide library of music that we can both see, hear and purchase immediately, and then annotate online.

• Annotations are enhanced with new tools! We share annotations via pdfs and often update them every week. Our students learned how to write on their own scores and organize their materials as we could no longer physically do that for them.

• Students practice more. We also find that their practice times are greatly increased and that parent support is better. Students practice right before their lessons, then join the lesson zoom with the device that is ready to go, then keep working right after the lesson with no transition time.

• Time is more efficient–cost is reduced as shorter lessons work! In-person lessons require packing the materials, travel time, unpacking, getting set up, re packing, traveling again, etc.. Time is used more efficiently without all of those transitions. Also, parents are no longer sitting in the car, or waiting in person, or juggling multiple other children and thus are far more relaxed. They can cook dinner, work or attend to household tasks while their family members study.

• More consistent scheduling. Summer enrollments are up as parents no longer need to cancel lessons due to traveling, “We are going to Chicago, and San Diego, but we have pianos in both locations, so we will continue online lessons straight through the summer!” Also, students used to occasionally have to miss lessons due to transportation issues, minor colds, unexpected scheduling issues and other reasons. Now, they can pop online instead of being interrupted by not being able to physically travel to the lessons.

• Better Focus. Students are much more attentive in online lessons. They look right in the camera and have less distractions. They are on their own instruments and are very comfortable at home. One of our adult students, a civil rights lawyer, said that he loves online lessons as he travels so much that he could never commit to in person lessons.

• Better suited to fit disabled students and those with multiple households. Students who have divorced parents also have an easier time with the scheduling as do students who are disabled and who require a customized setup to play.

We could go on and on. In short, we have found many benefits to online instruction for those enrolled in private lessons (1:1) as well as very small groups (1:3).  We have been encouraging our team not to talk about “going back” or “returning” as we approach the restart of in-person lessons. We have learned so much during the pandemic and our educational methods have improved. Now we need to carry these improvements as we move forward.

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