Online classes have become the trend in teaching students nowadays, and music lessons are not an exception. It’s no wonder why a lot of music teachers are now thinking about setting up an online music class.
Are you planning on teaching online music lessons too? That’s great to hear! But it is not surprising that plenty of teachers are still adjusting to this new method of teaching music, particularly for the ones who need to use musical instruments alongside their lessons.
So to make things simpler, here are some important steps on how to set up online music class, along with tips on how to build and promote your music teaching online.
Note that this article covers all instruments, including but not limited to – guitar, bass, piano, drums, even vocals / singing!
1. Set up the essentials
Before putting up an online music class, you should at least have established the basic things that are required to make it possible. Here’s a list of what you’ll most likely need:
Reliable internet connection
Everything will happen online, so obviously you will need a reliable internet connection.
Now take note of the term “reliable”. Your online class experience will be utmost pleasurable if you have an internet connectivity speed of at least 25 mbps. This will minimize the glitches and connectivity problems while the class is going on.
Buffering issues can be frustrating, both for you as an instructor as well as for your students. Take an internet speed test using websites like SpeedTest.net, and ask your students to do the same to ensure a stress-free experience.
Remember, it is best to stick with 25 mbps or higher for your online music class.
Computer, cellphone or tablet with built-in or external camera
Next on the checklist is your device. Will you use a computer, cellphone, tablet, or you’ll simultaneously use two devices? These devices will connect you to your students through the video calling platforms that you’ll install later, so this is also an important factor in online teaching.
Aside from the specs of your computer or devices, take note of the camera angles that you’ll need. Visualize your set-up based on your method of teaching and the instrument that you need to play.
In some instances, you’ll have to establish a camera angle wherein you can show the proper technique of playing an instrument. For instance, in playing piano, you can effectively show the movement of your wrists in a side view angle. This means that you’ll have to set up another device such as your phone, or an external camera that you can connect to your computer to capture this angle.
Musical instrument (Acoustic vs. digital)
Now let’s proceed to the musical instrument that you plan to use. Will it be acoustic or digital? It is important to take note of this factor beforehand because you’ll need different devices to connect each type of instrument to your computer or use them for teaching.
In an acoustic instrument, you might need a separate microphone to effectively capture the notes of your musical instrument.
Some music teachers use an external USB microphone with headphone output as well as volume control for recording their music. This way, they can easily position a USB mic near the instrument and monitor the sounds using headphones.
If using multiple microphones, getting an audio interface that will allow you to easily monitor and adjust the levels of each microphone separately would be ideal.
It would also be much easier to combine your voice with the sound of your acoustic instruments if you have several external microphones available.
On the other hand, the electric or digital musical instruments usually come with several ports that you can use to connect them not only to your computer but also to other devices. This will come in handy as you play in real-time during yoru class as well as in making recorded tutorials to share later.
Preparing an ideal workspace is another essential task when planning to teach music online. Check the following elements of a good working space:
Good lighting condition would make you appear livelier on screen. In fact, often times better lighting does more to improve video quality than a better camera does!
Choose a spot wherein you’ll be facing the source of light such as in front of a window. If this is not available, you can take advantage of deck lamps or ring lights to help you appear better on the camera.
A plain background will help your surroundings appear neat and tidy while recording or while teaching. You could also experiment on various drapes that will complement your source of light.
Also, take note of the differences of a dark vs. light background. A dark background will usually highlight your image on the screen, making your face appear whiter or brighter. Whereas a light background can cause your camera to result in a darker face on the screen.
The best thing to do is to play around and test this before hopping on your video call.
It would be best to spare a quiet spot in your home to minimize distractions and unwanted noise while the class is going on.
2. Determine which platform to use
Skype and Zoom are two of the popular platforms to use for hosting online music classes. Each of them has their own advantages and the good news is, both platforms are very easy to set-up!
How to set up online music class using Skype
Skype has been a popular platform for video calling for quite a while now, which is its major advantage. A lot of people already have a Skype account, so it’s more likely that your prospective students have it also. Here are the steps to set up your online class using Skype:
- Download and install the software from their website for your Mac or Windows, or download the Skype application for your phone.
- Create an account or simply sign in if you already have one.
- Add your students to your contacts by typing their Skype name or email address on the search box.
- Check the quality of your sounds and video by clicking “Skype” on the menu tab, then “audio and video settings”.
- After making sure that everything is okay, you can now call and begin an online session with your student.
How to set up online music class using Zoom
Zoom has been increasingly famous as a videoconferencing tool for students and professionals alike. Though Zoom has only recently risen in popularity, it has several cool features that can promote learning, such as:
A record button for recording your online sessions
You can share the video later to your students or review it yourself for improvements.
You can use this to share links or files that are related to the lesson.
You can generate a meeting ID or link that can be shared beforehand. The meeting will automatically start once both parties have clicked it.
Share screen button
You can use this to present something that is stored on your device.
Hi-Fidelity Music Mode Option
Zoom’s default settings are optimized for videoconferencing with a fair amount of background noise. They are programmed to suppress or limit the noise that it will pick up on the surrounding environment. Because this may affect the quality of the audio, it unfortunately may not be desirable in situations like this, where realistic audio is a priority.
This is when the Hi Fidelity Music mode will come in handy. The Hi Fidelity Music mode is an audio setting that will help you sound better while having an online music class.
Pretty cool, isn’t it? But first, you’ll need to set it up on your device. Here’s how:
- To install it on your computer, go to Zoom’s website, click “sign up for free” and follow the instructions on how to create an account.
- For your phone or tablet, simply download and install the Zoom application, then sign up for an account.
- You can go on with the default audio settings or customize your audio and use the Hi Fidelity music mode.
- For setting up Zoom’s Hi Fidelity music mode, go to “Settings” and click “Audio”.
- Under the “microphone” setting, remove the check on the box stating “Automatically adjust the microphone volume”. This will enable you to manually adjust your audio volume.
- Click the “advanced settings” at the bottom.
- Check the box for “Show in-meeting option to enable original sound from microphone”. (This will disable Zoom’s automatic noise suppression/ cancelation and enable you to play music on a studio-like set-up).
- Check the box for Hi fidelity music mode. (This will deliver the highest possible quality of music for your class. It is also best paired with an external microphone.)
- Check the box for Disable echo cancelation.
- Once you go back to your screen, you can find the “Turn off Original Sound” button on top. You can click this button depending on what setting you’ll need while the class is going on.
- Once you’re all set, you can start a new meeting or go on and click the link from your scheduled meetings.
- Share your meeting ID or link with students and they’ll be in your class once they clicked it. Easy!
3. Select a target audience
Determining your target audience will help formulate your goals for the online music class. It will also aid in your marketing strategy.
Who is your target audience? Children, adults, or both? What instrument will you focus on?
Once you established who you are planning to teach, it will be a lot easier to prepare your learning materials, environment, and teaching strategies. For example, you may prepare for a more colorful background and some energizers for the young students, or open a schedule that would cater the after-working hours.
4. Prepare your lessons beforehand
Hosting an online music class may be a bit different than how you do your face-to-face classes. It would help a lot if you prepared the things that you’ll most likely need for the online session beforehand, rather than cramming where to find them once the class already started. This will minimize the chance of having unproductive time during the class and will definitely keep your students more engaged to what you are teaching.
Some of the things that you may want to prepare would be:
You can use this not only in orienting students, but also in marketing your online class. Prospective clients may be interested to know more on what they or their children will gain in relation to the amount that they will pay. Making sure that you add up something unique that your competitors do not offer, will make your lessons even more attractive.
This will come in handy once you are live on the screen. Since some instruments need a bit of time to set-up, it would help to record some important videos that you’d like to share with your students beforehand, such as important techniques or hand movements while playing the instruments. Once needed, you can simply send the file or utilize the “share screen” feature to show what you’re talking about.
Another great advantage of taking pre-recordings is that you won’t need to repeat the same part of the lesson as you go on with the next batch of students. You can store it and share anytime you’ll be needing it for the rest of your online sessions.
Music sheets are now available in the digital format, catering for more professionals and students who might need them. You can either download the music sheets that you’ll need or convert your own music sheets into the pdf format for easy sharing.
Some teachers also use the free notation software MuseScore to share sheet music effortlessly. MuseScore also works for guitar and bass tablature, which is pretty neat!
Aside from your own learning materials and recordings, you may also take advantage of the video lessons that are widely available on YouTube. You may simply save the links that you want to share with your students for additional learning.
5. Promote your online music class.
Last but definitely not something to forget about is marketing. Now that your class is online, you can reach out to more clients. All it takes is just a good marketing strategy on the web.
Tips on promoting your online music class
Set up your own website
If you aim to expand your online music class and improve your credibility, one of the best things that you can do is to start your own website.. Once established, your website will open doors of opportunities, not just for prospective clients, but also for paid advertisements in the future.
Take advantage of social media
Whether you have a website or not, you can easily reach out to potential students through the popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Through social media, you can easily set-up a separate account or a page for your online music services wherein you can post updates or share to reach more people.
Invest in good blog posts or articles
Music-related blog posts or articles that would be helpful for many people will help attract visitors and encourage readers to visit your website regularly. Some of these visitors may actually convert to students in the long run, but what you’ll really be doing here is showing that you a credible expert in your area of music.
Posting high-quality articles may not appear to be profitable at first, but once you’ve established your credibility online, you will reap all the efforts in the long run.
Try guest posting
Guest posting on other popular music-related blogs is a nice way to generate an audience and promote your services. Depending on the blog, you may be allowed to link back to your own website, or promote your services. That’s an easy way to get some new eyeballs on your brand!
Hire an expert in internet marketing
If you simply can’t do the techy stuff or you lack time to do so, it would be best to hire an expert to do them for you. There are plenty of online marketing specialists, content writers, graphic designers and social media managers that you will find online. You can hand them over the job so that you can focus your attention on the most important stuff, and that is teaching your students.
So that’s it for the steps on how to set up online music class. Now that everything is set, you can begin sharing your expertise and earning money straight from your home. Good luck!