Teaching Music Today: How Things Have Changed + What It Means for Teachers

Since the global pandemic of COVID-19 swept the nation in 2020, mainly targeted in the United States, there were multiple shutdowns for all events and activities and most businesses. Teachers also had to overcome many obstacles. The pandemic created numerous challenges, especially for those who taught from home.

Music teachers had to pivot their teaching styles to continue to provide lessons for their students, which was tricky. For many students, general music classes in school were either canceled or not included within the new online setting for learning. For music teachers, this meant that they became essential for music learning for parents and students.

Many things changed for music teachers in both digital and in-person learning for both them and students over the last year. However, the opportunities and challenges presented have led to more lucrative music professionals’ options across the industry.

The Pivot to Online Music Lessons

It started mainly with having music teachers move their lessons from previously in-person to online lessons through Zoom. Moving to online classes presented many obstacles for both students and teachers to overcome. Distractions for students or not having a safe, quiet place to learn was among the leading contenders during online lessons that both parties had to work together to find a solution.

For teachers that were typically more hands-on and enjoyed demonstrating things like proper posture, breathing, finger placements, or mouth placement on instruments, the virtual setting did not allow for that. Teachers had to become very descriptive in their speech to explain how to do things to their students and demonstrate through a computer screen. 

Rethinking teaching methods, researching new ways to mentor students who needed extra assistance, and strengthening students’ music skills were part of this new online learning way. 

The Music Industry and Teaching Options

The transfer to online and digital teaching had many teachers upgrading things like computer software, video equipment, and audio hardware, among other things. With these upgrades, it became clear that besides teaching, music professionals could find ways to distribute their music or musical knowledge in an array of different options.

Suddenly, music teachers could create videos to develop a masterclass or course for students. They also found other creative outlets to assist their students, including online video recitals, fundraisers, and more. They could submit their copyrighted music for licensing, market to new students worldwide, and develop new online courses to educate. Music teachers who focus on musical theater even found that Broadway had designed workshops online for teachers and students together. 

Working from home also provided teachers with more time that they could put to use in creating more value in their students’ learning. Teachers have made leaps in bounds in adjusting and finding innovative ways to teach. 

One big adjustment for music teachers came in the form of the audio. No matter how good or strong an internet connection is, there is always a lag within the audio from computer to computer or phone to tablet. Teachers have found different applications that work well, and many have adjusted to the lag to teach by playing with it in mind effectively. 

One other solution that has also worked for many teachers is that the instrumental/vocal performances have to incorporate not just one but TWO different devices for the students when in their lesson, so there is a clear distinguishment between voice or instrument and music. So, an example of working with a voice student – there needs to be a separate audio device for the music (such as a cellular phone or maybe a Bluetooth speaker) so that the teacher will hear both the music and voice.

The current situation in online teaching lends itself to those who hadn’t considered it previously to use education as a viable career for anyone with musical knowledge. If you have ever considered teaching a musical instrument or teaching students how to sing, the online world allows you to teach from anywhere in the world, without the restrictions of driving distance.  

Music Teachers Working Together

Music educators also got the opportunity to collaborate with other musicians and teachers. Some would combine classes and create one extensive online masterclass with a primary focus. Each teacher could utilize one of their strengths and impart knowledge to students. With newfound ways of teaching others, music teachers found ways to sustain and create more income for themselves.

Teachers created online forums to assist each other in what programs, equipment, and more work best when teaching virtually. Those who were new to teaching in an online platform found so much assistance and help from others to guide them through the challenging transition to digital.

For example, a vocal teacher whose focus was on performance, and another who focused more on solfege and sight-reading, were able to combine their powers to create an online class for multiple students to learn both skills. It’s a win-win for students and teachers, providing students with more knowledge and teachers with more satisfaction in keeping music education alive during such a difficult time.

Teaching Music Today

Now it seems that teachers have been able to find value and opportunity going online to teach. That doesn’t mean that working online doesn’t still propose various challenges or obstacles for students and teachers, but having a broader reach and creating new methods to teach online have given teachers a new, viable, and workable option.

With more time working from home, teachers have also taken on more students by not being limited to specific locations. Music teachers who have enrolled new students from far away will most likely continue to teach on an online platform. Online lessons have helped create a new breed of music educators – those who will teach online and in-person. Why limit yourself to just one or the other anymore? 

Virtual learning has opened up an entirely new world for teachers. With vaccines reaching more and more people, it does seem that there can and will be more in-person learning again soon. Though many music teachers are excited to see their students again and teach in that setting, it is clear that there are also many other options to continue working in a virtual environment for teachers today. Virtual learning will not at all fall by the wayside.

About The Author: 

Before having her kids and shifting her career toward teaching students how to play their first instrument, Nicole was pinching pennies in her 20s while singing at dive bars and coffee shops across the country. She took what she learned from those formative years on the road and now spends her days contributing to music blogs, penning new songs, and learning new production skills. She finds great joy in sharing her insight with other musicians trying to make it in the industry.