How to deliver live online music lessons

Advice regarding transitioning to online teaching during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis


We are neither endorsing nor recommending any specific online teaching platform.

We are simply informing you as to what platform some people are using. It is your responsibility to make an informed decision as to which platform you wish to use.

Please submit your feedback so that we may be able to keep information provided on this page up to date, accurate, informative and safe for all our members and their students.

Last updated: 12-Aug-2020 09:38 AM

Transitioning to online teaching

Since the government has introduced measures requiring people to stay at home to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus, this means all face-to-face teaching must now stop.

To avoid cancelling music lessons, consider offering online teaching through the use of video calls, for example on Zoom or Skype.

Online teaching can be a huge success, even though you may be apprehensive with your first online lesson. But there's no need to be apprehensive - it can be engaging and fun for both the student and you!

Whilst teaching music lessons online may be efficient and convenient, it is not without challenges as some instruments do not transfer well from face-to-face to an online model. But with Coronavirus affecting everyone, you should find people more patient with any difficulties encountered. Forming an emotional connection with new students will be more challenging when compared to teaching one-on-one in person.

Some suggestions for your online lesson format:

  • You may want to offer shorter lessons, say 30 minute lessons.
  • For each lesson, add an extra five to ten minutes to allow for unexpected disruptions.

Selecting an online platform

There are numerous platforms that can enable you teach online. We suggest two platforms, namely Zoom and Skype. We like these two choices as they are established and both already widely-used.

Other platforms available include FaceTime with your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and Google Classroom.

We recommend you doing your own research before selecting your platform of choice. The platform you choose may also be dictated by whether you teach one-on-one or larger groups.

Testing the platform

Realistically, we are in this for a few months, at the very least. So, iIt is worth your while taking even a few days testing out the different platforms.

Test the platforms both for the duration of your usual lesson length as well as how they perform at different times of the day. This is particularly important with some free platforms as they often offer diminished performance at popular times of the day due to heavy demand.

Then, once you've selected your platform of choice spend additional time testing it thoroughly.

  • Check the sound quality. This will be in part determined by the quality of the microphone and speaker within your computer or device.
  • Consider using an external speaker should you find the sound quality inferior. Wireless speakers are relatively low cost and can significantly improve the sound quality, and therefore the experience of both teacher and pupil.
  • Consider purchasing a microphone or headset so you can hear and communicate with your students better.
  • You may even need to recommend your students acquire an external speaker and microphone or headset as well.
  • Before you get into the first lesson, make sure you know how the platform works - especially the key features you will be using.
  • Practice conducting a lesson with a friend or family member.

Setting up your online teaching environment

Whilst social media applications can encourage informality, observe your usual high professional standards at times. Always present yourself as professionally as you would if you were giving a face-to-face lesson, in dress and in manner: remember that . Preparation of the room you teach from is just as important as if the student came to you.

  • Pay attention to what the student can see, particularly behind you in the background. For example, a basket of dirty laundry in the background is not appropriate.
  • When giving an online lesson, close unnecessary apps and screens on your computer, including any that may distract you like your email or Facebook.
  • Use a wired internet connection as this type of connection is faster and more stable than wireless.
  • Make sure other people in your house-hold are aware that you're giving an online lesson so that they are aware of any noise or disruptions they may cause.
  • If you have a slow internet connection, ask others in the house-hold to refrain from streaming movies during your lessons.
  • Position your camera as close to you as possible, making sure the student can see you, your instrument and your hands clearly.

Safeguarding for music teachers giving lessons remotely

Safeguarding for music teachers remains as important in the online environment as anywhere else.

  • Discuss the offer to teach online with the parents or guardians of pupils under the age of 18.
  • Use the parents’ or guardians’ own account if possible rather than a child’s, to deliver lessons.
  • Tell people that your online teaching account will be used exclusively for the purpose of lessons and only during music lessons.
  • Get an agreement from students or parents/guardians for teaching online, in writing.
  • The pupil must take lessons in a room with an open door and parents/guardians must provide that one of them or for a trusted adult shall be in the same premises as the pupil while the lesson takes place.

Record lessons with caution

Recording lessons is a sensitive area and we advise caution. Always discuss this with your pupils or parents/guardians. If you are in any doubt as to the intentions of your pupils or the parents/guardians of your pupils, do not record lessons.

You must never record a lesson without the knowledge and written consent of your pupil, or the pupil’s parents/guardians.

As an alternative to making recordings yourself, ask parents/guardians if they wish to make the recording themselves. This way they can control what happens to the recording.

Setting up your student's learning environment

It is equally important for your students to prepare the room from which they will participate in lessons.

  • Conduct a test call with each pupil before their first lesson to check their set up, as this helps to ensure that the lesson will run smoothly and all technical difficulties are resolved.
  • When giving an online lesson, ask them to close unnecessary apps and screens on their computer, including any that may distract them like your email or Facebook.
  • Ask them to use a wired internet connection if possible, as this type of connection is faster and more stable than wireless.
  • Make sure other people in their house-hold are aware that they're having an online lesson so that they are aware of any noise or disruptions they may cause.
  • If they have a slow internet connection, get students to ask others in their house-hold to refrain from streaming movies during lessons.
  • Make sure the student and instrument are well in view at the start of the lesson and that you can see their hands clearly.

Skype is Microsoft's video conferencing app that is a household name. Skype offers a screen sharing option, and there is the ability to automatically blur backgrounds. Other handy features include live subtitling of conversations, and the ability to record chats.

Skype is a cross-platform app which supports group video calling for up to 50 people. Skype is free, but in the unlikely event that you need to have video meetings that involve more than 50 people, Skype for Business (which is now Microsoft® Teams) is a paid-for upgrade.

  • Teachers can access Skype video calls via desktop, laptop or smart phone using the app.
  • Creating an account is simple and only requires an email address.
  • Ideally set up a separate Skype account for your online teaching. As with all social media (e.g. Facebook), keep your Skype account separate from your personal online profiles. Make sure you use an appropriate image for your profile picture, and do not share any personal information about yourself eg personal telephone number, email accounts, Facebook and other social media links.
  • When you are on Skype, you can use the chat icon to open a dialogue box that allows you to send links, pictures and other files.
  • Teachers can use screen sharing to show websites, videos and other learning materials to students.
  • Calls to pupils are free if the pupil has a Skype account.

How to use Skype - Beginners Guide

Zoom has more advanced functions for scheduling and viewing past lessons and is a feature-packed, free video conferencing tool with secure encryption available for Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android. Zoom is great for teachers and students to successfully create virtual classrooms, participate in online classes, and use it for distance education.

Zoom is free but does offer premium versions with more features. But even in the free version you can hold either one-on-one meetings, or group meetings involving up to 100 people. However, for meetings with three or more participants, there is a 40-minute time limit.

  • Setting up an account only requires an email address.
  • Both you and your pupil would need the Zoom app to access Zoom, there is also a Chrome extension available.
  • Zoom allows users to have meetings or lessons via video call with audio and a chat function.
  • Teachers can also facilitate group lessons and rehearsals.
  • Zoom also allows users to schedule meetings, so you and your students will get reminders about upcoming lessons.
  • Teachers can send files and share their screen with pupils which is useful when sharing sheet music and other materials.
  • Calls to pupils are free if the pupil has a Skype account.

Please note

Zoom has seen explosive growth because of Coronavirus. That growth has also come with increased scrutiny and a multitude of security issues.

Read this article for more information about Zoom security issues.

Zoom for Remote and Online learning

Setting your profile's 'Live Online Lessons' option

When creating and/or editing your profile, the 'Live Online Lessons' option is set under 'Regions Serviced / Venues' as seen below.