Every week that I teach online, I get a little better at all of the details. I am learning what helps me keep my energy up and how to best help my students through the assignments I give them. I am learning what equipment helps prevent eye strain and how to best communicate with families in my studio right now.

We recently asked teachers to share some of what they had learned “the hard way” about teaching lessons online, and here is what they had to say:

  1. We learned the importance of teaching everyone to tune! Many teachers have been teaching families to tune at home for the first time while we conduct online lessons and have realized that they could be teaching students and families to tune their instruments much earlier. We’re discovering what an important skill this is for when we can’t be together in person.

  2. It’s harder to get a feel for how hard to push or when to back up and simplify a practice spot when we’re interacting online. Often in the same room, we can pick up on body language and frustration from a student that gets lost in translation through the computer or screen. It takes extra communication to figure these things out right now. It’s also extra important!

  3. Teachers are learning to manage their energy: teaching through a screen takes a different kind of energy. Our eyes are getting tired unless we find a way to block blue light: some teachers have started using blue-blocking glasses, and others have adjusted the settings on their device to help.

  • Microphones, external speakers, and headsets have helped as we try to hear our students the clearest way possible and keep from losing our voices as we talk at the screens.

  • Sometimes we need to space out our lessons, or give ourselves time to do other activities like bake, or start a new hobby and step away for a while, more than we used to, during our off hours.

  1. The needs of our families might vary: Different families have such different situations right now that we need to openly communicate and remain flexible. Some parents may feel short on patience or ability to focus on practice with their child, and we can offer them ideas and, for sure, a listening ear as we all navigate this together.

We may see some students able to focus and spend more time with their instruments and make dramatic progress. Others may be treading water a bit and need to be encouraged to keep going.

These are all great reminders for parents and teachers alike. What have you learned the hard way during this time of online lessons? We’d love to hear you share them on our discussion thread here: Teacher’s Corner

A big thank you to everyone who shared ideas about what they were learning through the distance learning forum on Facebook and through our Google form.