Taking online classes for any subject can be challenging, but for music classes, distance learning presents a new set of unique challenges. For one, taking music classes online means that your teacher can’t physically guide your fingers to the right note or easily show you how to hold your instrument properly. Moreover, there is a problem of latency that comes with online classes, and it can affect the quality of your learning to some extent.
Nevertheless, it is still very well possible to learn music online. Here are some great tips on how to make each lesson count:
1. Get familiar with the technology
If you’re a parent with a child taking piano lessons for kids online, for example, help them become familiar with the technology that is going to be used during lessons. Teach them how to use the controls on the video conferencing software (mute the mic, turn the camera on and off, etc.) and how to plug in their instrument (if it’s electric).
If you’re an adult taking music lessons, on the other hand, familiarize yourself with the tech you’re going to use, including the video conferencing software and any necessary accessories such as microphones, speakers, and amplifiers.
It is also a good idea to invest in high-quality accessories to increase sound quality. In this way, you’ll be able to hear your instructor well and they’ll be able to do the same on their end.
2. Prepare a learning area
Designate a quiet spot in your home as a learning area. This could be your bedroom, a corner in your kitchen, or the home office. This area should be away from the main living areas in your home so that other household members don’t disturb you during lessons. If possible, conduct lessons in the most soundproof room in the house with minimal noise coming in or out.
Furthermore, this area should have adequate lighting so that your instructor will be able to see you clearly on the camera. Natural light is the best, so sit beside a large window if possible. If not, sit in a room with adequate overhead lighting and use a lamp or ring light to eliminate shadows on your person.
It is also advisable to hang a sheet as a background if you can’t face the camera with the wall behind you. This will help avoid any distractions from family members or pets coming into view.
3. Wear noise-canceling headphones
Noise-canceling headphones can provide the best sound quality you can get, as opposed to using your desktop or laptop computer’s stock speakers. And for online music lessons, having the best sound quality is imperative to learning efficiently.
Aside from providing great sound quality, noise-canceling headphones also reduce distractions around you, which is especially useful if you live with other people or live in an area with lots of neighborhood noise.
4. Deal with latency
The time delay on video conferencing platforms makes it impossible for musicians to play at the same time online. No matter how in sync you and your instructor may be, there will still be a one or two-second delay in the sound that comes out of both of your speakers–yes, even if you have ultra-fast Internet.
The only solution for this is to play your instrument with the accompaniment playing on your end instead of the teacher’s. Doing this eliminates latency and allows your teacher to hear your instrument and the accompaniment at the same time. If your online music teacher is not yet aware of this trick, let them know when they tell you to play with an accompaniment.
5. Zoom in when necessary
If your instrument requires delicate finger movements, zoom in on your hands so that your teacher will be able to see what your fingers are doing, and thus will be able to offer you better guidance. Avoid moving the camera itself when not necessary to keep the set-up consistent–just zoom in the camera whenever you’re playing.
6. Practice, practice, practice
There’s only so much that music lessons can do, regardless if it’s online or not. In between lessons, make it a point to practice at least half an hour to an hour every day. Watch tutorials online and self-study. If there are certain difficulties that you can’t overcome on your own, ask your teacher for help during the next lesson.
Thanks to modern technology, taking music lessons is still possible amidst the pandemic. Although learning an instrument online can be much harder than taking in-person classes, there are many ways you can make online music lessons easier, starting with the tips mentioned above.