While most subjects must be taught face to face, music performance is successfully taught online. Is anyone else doing
this? I tutor a score of folks each week this way now, some of them local (even through Wyzant), but many more of them are
from all over the world from places I could never physically visit.
Instead of connecting to a student in a physical space, we connect in a virtual space. My student and I are both at home
on our own computers, with an audio headset, a common chat channel and sometimes a mini-camera active. We can tutor over
Google-Talk, Second Life, There, MS Chat, or Yahoo Messenger, but my favorite music-teaching platform is Skype. Skype
service is free for all, the sound and video streams is fantastic and I can inhibit new callers so the student and I are
not distracted by incoming calls during our session.
I always spend the first few moments of the tutoring session making a good connection so we can hear and see each other
clearly. If static, break-up or background noises interfere at all, we spend a few moments taking care of those, checking
connections and setting levels. After that, the online tutoring session is very like a live face-to-face tutoring session.
There are some differences, of course. We can see and hear each other clearly, but I cannot point to a symbol on a physical
paper page to direct attention to a detail. I cannot touch the student to correct a posture or hand position. However, I can
instantly send a link to a website video, picture, or article that we can look at together and talk about right then. I can
chat notes about an exercise while the student is singing or playing without distracting her and send it immediately on
completing without distracting her from focusing on her performance technique. Using a recording program, I can make and
upload short clips of our session so the student can review them after our session. In trade off, I think the online session
offers the student more resources than the face-to-face.
I do not think this practice is widespread yet, but it’s effective and economical for teaching vocal and instrumental
practice and technique.