Let’s take a minute to imagine your ideal music lesson studio… (Queue dream sequence) What might that look like? How much space do you have? Are all your teaching tools up to date? Have you embraced the changes technology has brought? Are beautiful elven butlers bringing you boxed apple juice and candied nuts on golden platters? Oh, too far. Back up a bit… Think of your own teaching space now in comparison; is it everything you want it to be, or even need it to be? Here is a list of 4 things that come to mind when I think of things I would want to be in my ideal lesson setup:
1. Quiet Space
A Quiet Space free of distractions that’s large enough to accommodate you, your student, your tools, and your instruments!
This seems like a really obvious one, but speaking as someone who has taught harp (not a small instrument) in a bathroom next to a loud and busy hallway, I can’t emphasize this enough! Make sure you secure a place that others are not likely to wander into during the middle of your lesson to minimize distractions and get the most out of your time with your student. Have a dedicated shelf or set of drawers to keep your books and sheet music on, or, if you’re a traveling teacher, a bag specifically for carrying your teaching supplies. Maybe even one with a pocket specifically for scratch ‘n sniff stickers…For the elven butlers…
2. Adequate Lighting
This is an oft overlooked step for both in person and online lessons. In an in-person studio, consider the space you are teaching in. Is there a beam of sunlight that blazes through the window at 12:00 sharp every day in the summer and you don’t have a curtain there (I’ve seen people get headaches that way)? Or, is it so dark that they’re squinting at their music? Think of what time of the day you are teaching and what the light is like in the room at those different times.
If you are doing online teaching, try to position yourself so that there is a light source pointing at you, not coming up from behind you. If you sit in front of a window, for example, you are likely to be difficult to see in the video. Cameras aren’t as sophisticated as the human eye, so it is imperative that you have good enough lighting for the end result to be clear and easy to follow.
3. A way to record audio/video
As mentioned before in an earlier blog post, making recordings for your students will raise the retention rate of what was covered in their lesson and will subsequently make for better lesson experiences. Having a computer or a phone on hand to record with will do wonders, and Collabra has been designed with the lesson space in mind, making for quick, easy recordings. If you happen to want a camera that is of better quality than what may be found built into your phone or computer, we highly recommend this webcam. And, if you wanted to increase your audio quality as well, we also recommend this microphone. Instructors, keep in mind that Collabra stores your lesson files for free, so that saves space on your hard drive!
If you are able to record your student’s lessons, not only will they be able to retain more information, but you will be able to track student progress as well!
4. Internet Access
Related to #3, this is especially crucial (and kind of a no-brainer) if you have an online music lesson business! Or, perhaps you’ve never tried using a computer during a lesson before. It’s an undeniable fact of our day and time, the internet is a major presence in our lives and we rely on it quite heavily. What if you wanted to look up reference videos, or email them something on the spot so you didn’t have to try to remember to do it later? Having an internet connection in your lesson space will also give you access to useful online music teaching tools such as Collabra, giving you more opportunity to have a deeper interaction with your students.
Here’s a picture of where I teach my harp lessons, and also where my husband teaches his fiddle lessons. We share a space, so we have to make sure that it’s well organized for both of us:
Both of us teach without the use of very much sheet music, so our students use a lot of recordings to learn their pieces by ear.
What about you?
What are the tools that you use most in your music lessons? What would be on your must-have list? Let us know in the comments!