Tips for Moving Your Ensemble Online

For music educators, there are some days when connecting with ensembles seems downright impossible under the best of circumstances. But with education moving online due to Covid-19 concerns, music educators have the added challenge of teaching remotely in a passionate and effective way. While remote teaching has its challenges, students have never needed music education more than they do right now during these immensely challenging times. To help you get the most out of connecting with your ensemble online, here are a few tips for music educators.

Deliver enthusiasm and friendliness, not just discipline and accountability

If you think transitioning to online education is strange for you, imagine what it’s like for your students. On top of the usual challenges kids face, students are now forced to learn at home, away from their social networks, on devices that are proven to be addictive for them. When things get tough teaching your ensemble, try to have as much patience and empathy for your students as possible. 

The more enthusiasm, humour, and humanity you can display while working with your kids, the smoother your sessions will go. These characteristics no doubt help your in-person teaching experiences, but music students will need even more energy and attention from you in order to be engaged and interested in what you’re covering. Make dumb jokes, give out silly awards, and pull out all the stops when it comes to making your students feel recognized, special, and appreciated. 

Get the right gear and master it before classes, not during them

In order to have productive classes online with your ensemble, you’ll have to have the tech side of things figured out long before you teach. When it comes to online learning, your enthusiasm as a teacher is only as good as your internet connection. Before teaching, make sure that the device you’re teaching through is receiving a strong and stable internet connection. Classes should be taught using laptops, desktop computers, and tablets, not smartphones. If you’re planning on teaching with a tablet, make sure your device is propped up with a stand so your students can see you. 

Virtually all devices have internal microphones, but they generally are of low-quality and are unreliable. External headset microphones are great for ensuring that what you say during lessons gets heard by your students, and instrument mics will send audio of what you’re playing to your students in crystal clear clarity. And to ensure you’re hearing every note and nuance of the music your students are playing, speakers that can conveniently stand on your desk are recommended. If possible, try to outfit your kids with the same equipment so that their musical performances will be seen and heard in clarity. 

Don’t compromise your lesson plan, but leave room for when things go wrong

Kids learning music online is not an occasion for simplifying material and taking the easy way out whenever it presents itself. It’s crucial to deliver the same standard of teaching that you display in the classroom during online sessions with your ensemble. That, as you can imagine, isn’t always easy. It will probably take more energy in communication, accountability, and planning to challenge your ensemble online the same way you would in person, but it’s vital for keeping kids challenged, engaged, and on track. In the same way your ensemble improves with hard work and dedication, your remote teaching efforts will only get better with practice. 

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