Individual Music Sessions in the Time of Remote Learning
Updated: Feb 22
Individual sessions are an indispensable part of the musician’s syllabus. Like most aspects of learning, teachers were facing a sizable challenge conducting one-on-one sessions. Having said that, we saw a clear difference between the challenges facing teachers of composition classes and those teaching instrument classes.
Composition Classes: The Home Court advantage
Interviewees have described the shift to online learning as meaningfully improving the experience of composition classes. Some of them have mentioned they would even consider combining this format into their routine in the future. The most significant advantage is the fact that both teachers and students are participating in the lesson from home, while they have full access to the learning material. The student can present all the versions of his work, without being dependent on what fits on their portable hard drive at the moment. This leads to more flexibility in managing the lesson. This advantage’s significance increases when it comes to smaller institutes, with less advanced equipment, where the computers don’t necessarily include the software students are using at home. This new remote format can very much be described as a new experience for students, who experience the composer from within his own studio, in his “home court”.
Instrument Classes: Rehearsing at the Park
Still, for vocalists and piano teachers as well as teachers of voice and other instruments, the remote learning challenge still looms large. The difficulties begin even before class, when students oftentimes don’t have the possibility to rehearse comfortably or for enough time, due to their crowded home environment and lack of access to rehearsal rooms. Teachers who spoke with Musician Pro have told us about students rehearsing in their cars or at the park to deal with this issue - definitely creative solutions, but far from being ideal or productive. Even when students can freely rehearse at home, the prevalent ways to conduct a remote class are either by video conferencing or by sending video recording to the teacher. Each of these systems are full of flaws, the main one being that achieving a satisfactory sound quality requires extensive technical preparation as well as equipment. The only sector for which a partial solution exists is pianists, who have an electric piano they can connect to a computer or a phone and make use of software “transcribing” the music played into notes. Still, this solution is partial at best.
The significant advantage of individual sessions over group sessions is in the student’s participation. In an online classroom setting, students tend to participate less than they would in normal circumstances; However, in individual lessons, the student has to take a proactive part, no matter whether the session happens online or face-to-face. Thus, the challenge, in this case, is purely technological - making it more likely that the near future will bring better solutions.
Have you found other effective solutions for individual lessons? Share your innovative ideas in the comment section.