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The recent suspension of in-person lessons in Singapore is a stark reminder that the worldwide pandemic is an ongoing threat and that online learning will become a part of our daily lives. While we are unable to control the circumstances, it is a perfect time for us to stay optimistic and learn to adapt to learning online!
If you are a parent facing difficulties with online music lessons, do not be discouraged as there are proactive steps that you can take to lighten your burdens, and make online learning more effective for your child. Read on this guide to find out more!
Step 1: Create a conducive space
The first step to help your child have an effective online lesson is to create a conducive, designated learning space for him or her. Having a quiet space that is free from all distractions is extremely important and can have a direct impact on your child’s attention span. A neat and quiet learning environment can entail tremendous positive effects on a child’s behavior, emotions and intellect.
This space should be a designated space where a child goes to class every week. In this way, your child will learn to manage their behaviour and remember that they should behave themselves like in an actual class setting, whenever they enter this space.
For students learning the piano, it is understandable that the online lesson has to be held in the living room as the piano is situated there. If this is the case, parents should inform other family members in advance that there will be a lesson going on during a certain time, and parents should also instruct other siblings to stay in another area of the house during the lesson. This will reduce unnecessary distractions for the learner. The piano top should also be free from clutter and parents should refrain from placing things on the piano. Research has proven that physical clutter can cause children to have a higher tendency to procrastinate.
For younger children, it will be extremely helpful if parents can sit with their child during the lesson. A parent’s presence can provide a supportive and encouraging environment for a young child and this will make an online lesson much more effective.
Step 2: Prepare with the right setup and tools
Having the right tools and equipment set up for your child’s online music lesson can ensure that the lesson is set for success. The first thing you will need to prepare would be a reliable device for use. It is recommended for you to use a desktop, laptop or tablet as it will be easier for your child to look at a bigger screen if the teacher is explaining a hand position or showing certain parts of the music score. However, a phone is also usable but do make sure that it is positioned in such a way that your child can see the screen clearly.
Another thing to do is to ensure that your device is set up at the right angle, such that the teacher will be able to see the student’s fingers, and also such that the student will be able to see the screen clearly. The desktop, laptop or tablet should be placed on a table at a height where the device’s camera can capture the student’s fingers and posture, as well as the instrument. If you are using a phone, you should also get an adjustable phone tripod, which will help you to position the phone at a good height and angle. The right positioning of the device can make a significant difference to ensure the lesson is an effective one.
If your child is learning the piano, it is extremely important to position the phone at the right angle so that the teacher can see your child’s fingers and face in the same view. You can do this by positioning the device at a height slightly higher than the piano keys, and the device should be tilted slightly downwards so that the camera can capture the fingers. Refer to the pictures below to see how the captured view should look like.
Recommended camera views for piano lessons
Picture 1: Portrait camera view
Picture 2: Landscape camera view
Lastly, it is strongly recommended for a student to use earphones or headphones with internal microphones during the lesson as this will help the student hear and communicate with better sound quality.
Step 3: Check the sound quality
To ensure that the teacher can hear the sound from the student’s instrument clearly, you should “Enable Original Sound’ under the audio settings of your Zoom account. You can read more on how to do this here. Do ensure that you also uncheck “Automatically adjust microphone volume” in your audio settings. These settings will allow the raw original audio to pass through and remove any audio enhancement automated by Zoom. The audio enhancement automated by Zoom is targeted to improve the sound quality of voices but it often distorts an instrument’s original sound. After you adjust these settings, be sure to use earphones or headphones as the use of speakers might create unnecessary echo.
If you are unable to adjust the above settings, you may play the instrument one to two metres away from the device in order to prevent any sound distortion on the other end. Sound usually gets distorted when you play the instrument too close to the microphone in the device. This is because a device’s microphone is originally designed for speech, which is softer than the sound from an instrument.
Step 4: Set a schedule for your child
It will be incredibly useful if you can help your child with creating a timetable that includes weekly lesson and practice timings, along with tangible goals. This process is best done together with your child as your child will then learn to be involved in planning and gradually learn to manage their own time. A timetable will help to remind your child of their lesson as it is easy to forget about lesson timings when lessons are held at home. Having regular practice will also help your child to progress quicker and reinforce what they have learned in the previous lesson.
Step 5: Carry a positive attitude!
A child may tend to rely more on their parents for positive encouragement during times when they are stuck at home. Thus, parents can help to create a supportive environment by giving their children constant positive motivation and by carrying an optimistic attitude towards online lessons. Do remember that adjusting to online learning takes time and do not give up if the first online lesson does not meet your expectations. Trying it out a few times with your child will definitely break barriers and taking the time to familiarize will make things easier. Finally, don’t forget that music can serve as a fun and relaxing outlet for children in challenging times!
We hope that the 5 steps above can help you to make online lessons more effective for your child. When you have all the right tools, it is definitely much easier for children to be engaged in online lessons as well.
If you are interested in trying out online lessons, you can also get in touch with us here!