What is the one factor that makes learning piano online effective? The simplest answer: the teacher. And while that’s a basic answer, there are 3 ways that the teacher makes (or breaks) the online learning experience.
As a teacher, I’ve taught almost every grade and every subject both here in Canada as well as internationally. When I started teaching piano it was in-person and eventually moved my studio online. While it may seem biased for me to give you advice on whether learning piano online is effective, I’ll be sharing this through the lens of being a parent. Because I get it. Online learning can be a fantastic experience. And, it can be incredibly frustrating. It all depends on the teacher.
If you are a parent, great. If you are a teen or adult student, this still applies to you. You deserve a great teaching and a great learning experience!
A Tale Of Two Teachers
Like many families, online schooling was not something we were prepared for as a family. Thankfully, I’d already had elements of online learning in my studio so we were able to draw on that. But, it was still a learning curve.
Our experience with our kids learning online wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Especially at the beginning of the pandemic.
We have twins which means we’ve gotten to see how different teachers handle things at each grade level. In this article, I’ll be sharing how Teacher A and Teacher B handled things at the beginning of online schooling. For privacy, I’ll be keeping gender-neutral pronouns and no names. Each of these teachers did the best they could in the circumstances and I respect that.
Teacher A was pregnant with their first child during beginnings of pandemic. Remembering my own pregnancy, I was amazed at how she juggled it all. And Teacher B used tech as a central part of their teaching in-person. What I found interesting was it was Teacher B who was the one who struggled with online teaching.
When Learning Piano Online Is Effective
The reason the teacher makes such a difference during online learning is because they are the ones that sets the tone, make tech decisions and determine levels of attention. And, there are 3 ways a teacher can make this a great experience!
#1: Relationships Are Key
You want to feel like your child’s teacher is in their corner, is advocating for them and making learning interesting.
Relationships are what keep students going when something doesn’t come easily or quickly. Anytime you’re learning something new, there will times when this happens. Having a supportive teacher makes all the difference.
Consistent Vs. Inconsistent Communication
The other part of keeping the relationship strong is making sure you feel heard so you know you’re part of a team working with the teacher.
In our situation, Teacher A met with students individually online to see how they were doing, emailed us to see how we were doing and offered to talk. Teacher B missed some classes or showed up late, didn’t return emails, and was very inconsistent in their approach.
As a parent who works afternoons and evenings, I value consistency in timely communication so we can plan our family schedule. It was much easier to support our kids online learning when we knew what was coming up and what needed to be done between lessons.
Knowing someone is in your “corner” can make all the difference. A teacher that focuses on building a solid relationship with your child and consistently communicates what’s happening during lessons (or coming up), makes family life a lot less stressful.
#2: Effectively Uses Technology
Back in the day, I used overhead projectors as my “tech” tool along with chalk on my trusty chalkboard. Things have changed quite a bit in the teaching world since then. And, that’s a good thing. I still remember attempting to decipher the notes one of my college professors had scribbled on the overhead projector. Some where upside down, others sideways or diagonal, with the occasional note written right side up. Needless to say, it wasn’t very clear.
Simple Is Often Best
With our kids’ teachers, Teacher A used simple technology they already had available: phone, email, and Google Classroom. These were things we were already familiar with so the learning curve as parents and students was minimal.
Teacher B used a Smart Board and once that was gone for online teaching just couldn’t adjust. The Smart Board had become their teaching method instead of what it really is: a tool.
Now it’s much more common for piano teachers to use apps, online storage for resources and a host of other tech tools. This has made learning piano online much more effective.
In our Must Love Music online piano studio, it means that students can have resources at their fingertips while they practice. Rather than waiting until the next lesson to ask a question. By keeping the technology ‘wizardry’ mostly on my side, it’s easy for families to access and use the resources week to week.
#3: Embrace A Personal Approach
There is a BIG difference between one-on-one lessons and a full classroom. This is one of the reason I left teaching in a school classroom. I hated not being able to be there when a student just needed to talk because it wasn’t fair to the other 30+ students to drop everything. Teaching one-on-one or small groups meant I could focus on those relationships I mentioned in “way 1”.
Types Of Online Piano Lessons
There are a couple of types of lesson options. Both of which we use in our Must Love Music online piano studio!
These are completely focused on the individual student which makes it easy to keep them engaged.andnbsp; After all, there’s nowhere to hide. Your teacher will see what you are doing (or not doing). And, that means it’s simple enough to switch activities or teaching approach in the moment.
Small Group Lessons:
These require the teacher to plan differently so students don’t have a chance to wander off or get distracted. Switching activities often, differentiating so each student can do things at their level and having backup plans (for when things go faster than expected) are the keys to success. Plus, the upside is that students get to be part of the studio community in a way private lessons (either in-person or online) just can’t provide.
Choosing The Best Option
No two people are exactly alike. Each student will thrive with the lesson size and approach that works best for them. It will be up to you decide which option works best for you or your child.
As a parent, I’ve seen firsthand that my twins don’t really learn in bigger online group settings (like a full classroom). However, they’ve thrived when it’s a private class or just the two of them.
When it came to the online classroom, Teacher A made time for each student even if it was shorter meetings. This meant she was teaching the whole group (since that was mandatory), but then also made time for each student.andnbsp; Teacher B focused on only the entire classroom which meant no one really got personal attention. When I looked at how engaged my kids were in those classes, there was a massive difference.
Some students do best with one-on-one lessons while others crave the social nature of group lessons. And, it could be that your child would love a combination of both those lesson types!
Why Learning Piano Online Is Effective
How a teacher approaches online learning makes a big difference. By focusing on building rapport with each student, making technology tools easy, and personalizing the learning experience, your teacher can make learning piano online effective and fun.
Which is most important to you: relationship, ease of tech tools or a personal approach to piano lessons?
Let me know in the comments below!
If you like this approach to learning piano, click to set up an interview to join our online piano studio!