3 Tips to Help Students Practice in the Era of Online Learning

A few days ago I joined my scheduled zoom lesson meeting with a student who warned me with tired eyes and heartfelt intention that I was his “13th call today”. We both had a good laugh about it, and though he was genuinely excited for our lesson, I couldn’t help ask myself what we can do to make music lessons fun for the kids? After all, the fun in music is what brings me back to my instrument after a long day’s work. We thought of three simple tips for making music lessons fun!


1. Establish a Creative Learning Space

Where do we keep instruments and hold music lessons? Is this a space where there are many distractions – TV, video games, siblings, etc.? We find that the healthier the environment is for lessons, the more fun they usually become. One simple tip is to remove any clutter from our learning spaces, so that there are few distractions. Another idea might be to have music lessons in a different room from other online classes.


2. Technology is Our Friend

It is wildly impressive and sometimes scary how skilled the kids have become in using and troubleshooting aspects of online learning. This has indirectly become a powerful lesson in itself for our students, and so I think it’s crucial that we all use it to our advantage. When practicing new material at home, students can:

  1. Record themselves playing (on zoom or with free voice memo apps). Listening back to our playing can teach us a whole lot.
  2. Slow recordings on Youtube down to 75% or even 50% speed (by clicking Settings > Playback).
  3. Students can create practice loops in some applications (like the free Garageband app). This is a great tool in repetitive practice.


3. Create a Rewarding Practice Schedule With Your Teacher

Some days it can feel like online school/work makes our days efficient and shorter, while other days can be extended by technical difficulties. We find that establishing any sort of fixed schedule to be built into our students’ routines can go a long way. Perhaps this can mean writing up a collaborative practice schedule with our teacher. Even 15 minutes of regimented practice a day followed by jamming or improvisation can certainly do a lot! Students can even make online calendars and set regular practice time aside. Another idea is for students to send compositions or updates throughout the week!

By making online learning easier and less stress-free for our students, we in turn make it much more enjoyable too. It is our hope that music lessons can be a consistently outlet for fun and creativity for the kiddos, even if it is their 13th call of the day!!!

Matt Bent