Until recent times, online saxophone lessons have made up a small percentage of lessons given, but COVID-19’s arrival has changed all that. With most of the Western world’s population locked-down at home, music teachers have been forced online; it could be weeks or months before we are permitted to give person-to-person lessons once again.
Since expanding my saxophone teaching by starting my online sax school last year, I’ve given online lessons for some time now (as well as having developed numerous courses and videos for self-learning). I would like to share some tips with you on how to make your online lessons work well:
- The most important thing is having good internet speed. If your picture or sound freezes, it is impossible to keep the flow of the lesson going. (Chuck the rest of your family off their streaming services if necessary – you need to make a living to pay their subscriptions!)
- Use an external microphone and audio interface if you can, this gives much better audio quality.
- Using a bespoke music audio program like Source Connect in tandem with Zoom for the picture gives the best quality.
- Having a good selection of the repertoire you want to teach from in pdf format allows you to share your screen with the student while you demonstrate, listen and point individual notes out to them while reading from the same music. Zoom has the added feature of being able to write on the music with a coloured marker pen. Of course, the pdfs can be emailed to students.
- Use of Youtube style backing tracks for demonstrating improvisation techniques, this will maximise person-to-person time in the lesson, and enthuse the student into practise.
Teaching music ensembles online:
This is more difficult! I’ll admit it has been a steep learning curve for me out seeing what works and what doesn’t, primarily because of internet delays. I have found that having matching pdf and audio/video tracks for all to play to gives the continuity needed to the rehearsal, but the internet delays between participants gives timing problems. The solution is to ask participants to mute their microphones, letting the teacher/conductor unmute students individually as needed. This may seem limiting and un-ensemble like, but it works!
The Newbury Sax School has regular live workshops, virtual band rehearsals and video projects that students can participate in. Why not join us with this months workshop and video project.