The hidden benefits of live, online piano lessons

The hidden benefits of live, online piano lessons

I have talked about the benefits of online piano lessons many times in the past. It’s sort of plastered all over my website. 😉

I am talking of course about things like the convenience, the time-saving and how you can learn from the comfort of home. My studio also offers increased flexibility making it easier to stick with lessons.

But did you know there are other, less well-known benefits to online lessons?

As most teachers in the world had to adapt to online teaching in recent months, some interesting discussions have arisen on various teacher forums and social media platforms. Overall, teachers were pleasantly surprised how effective online teaching was.

Most have commented on how productive and fun their online lessons turned out to be. Yes, even for small kids.

Here are just 5 pros that were highlighted in teacher Facebook groups:

1. Lessons are better prepared

To teach online means you have to plan thoroughly.

I must admit, I was slightly astonished how a minority of teachers mentioned that they ‘suddenly had to prepare lessons‘ because personally, I can’t imagine teaching without some form of prep.

It’s true of course that in-person lessons can have an element of the unplanned.

For some teachers this is the greatest delight – depends a little on the individual teacher’s personality.

In an in-person lesson, it’s easy to move away from the lesson, take out books, plop them in front of the student or for the student to bring in never explored before music. 

In online lessons, however, spontaneity is more limited. It’s harder to have an ad hoc lesson because there isn’t as easy a solution as pulling out a book and popping it in front of the student.

But while that may sound like a downside, the upside of all this planning is that your teacher will have a better idea of your progress and your overall musical development.

I have a very thorough, carefully put-together skill curriculum that spans all the technical, aural, theoretical, creative skills I want my students to possess when they move through the different levels. I keep track of what skills and pieces we are learning, what has been mastered and what can be taught next.

I go into each lesson with a plan for students – and while of course this will be flexible depending on each student’s musical aspirations, at the end of the day, there are minimum standards I set to myself.

2. Increased, better student-teacher communication

The previous point leads me nicely to this benefit: the increased communication between student and teacher.

This isn’t a given, but I actively encourage my adult students to be open with me about their practice habits, their time requirements, their struggles and triumphs.

Because ad hoc or spontaneous lessons are much harder to do online (see point above) I ask students to be mindful of what they’re doing each week and to communicate with me should practice have been slow or little.

I also use a practice app in my studio that helps us with this. The app makes communication quicker and easier and that allows me to give some small suggestions and practice help during the week.

3. Enhanced focus

Teaching or studying online requires a lot of  ‘brain power’.

Online teaching and learning involve more careful listening, being more attentive to the details and interestingly, all this enhances focus on both sides of the screen – teacher and student are very focused on the lesson.

Because of this enhanced focus, the learning possibilities are also deepened.

Students need to pay close attention to their piano teacher while watching technique demonstrations. Students need to listen carefully to the verbal instructions and in the end, they are fully self-reliant on interpreting and executing things for themselves (though the teacher will be there to guide them by watching in turn).  What a brain boost!

After all, the teacher can’t physically intervene and touch their hands or arms. The student needs to take more responsibility, listen carefully and learn to be mindful in how they move and do the exercises.

4. Building independent learners

Students need to take charge more often in online lessons than in in-person lessons.

Take for instance the simple act of writing in the score.

When I was a student, my teachers always wrote in my books and scores for me. Marking passages to practise, circling wrong notes, charting fingering or even dynamics.

The online student needs to do this themselves right off the bat. While I can share my iPad screen with them to show them WHAT to write down, it’s still up to the student to take a pencil and write things in themselves.

The great thing about this is that students get in the habit of marking up their music right from the start. And you know what they say about writing things down – it’s much easier to remember something once you’ve written it down!

Professional pianists will all tell you that analysing and writing in the score, be it fingerings, thoughts, or signs to draw your eyes to important score-related markings, is a key part to learning a piece of music.

A Marked-Up Piano Score
Yep, my teacher used to love to scribble in my scores to help me learn 🙂

A pristine score means an unloved score. And online students learn that by doing, rather than watching.

5. Enhanced responsibility and self-sufficiency  

Finally, online lessons require a degree of responsibility from the student sometimes not found in in-person lessons.

You need to be communicative and willing to take instruction. You need to be organised and patient when wanting to learn new pieces, and be willing to use technology.

Online learning means you need to take charge of your learning and be flexible and adaptable.

Take for instance the use of backing tracks. In a typical, face-to-face beginner lesson, as the student learns a new piece, the teacher might sit next to them and accompany their playing.

Online, unless both student and teacher have a digital piano/keyboard and a software license to Internet Midi, playing duets is not possible due to lag.

Instead, online students need to become more self-sufficient and use backing tracks and accompaniment tracks as they are learning.

If they don’t use these tools, they miss out on a lot of learning experiences, from building their ears to their ability to play in time.

This means students need to bring a degree of willingness and open-mindedness to their lesson. A great aptitude to have in any job or in life in general.

All of these aspects of online learning combined make online piano lessons such a great option for adult learners!

As un-instinctive as this may sound, adults can sometimes be incredibly complacent. Not because they want to be, but because for many it’s been years or decades since they last learned anything new.

As an online teacher, all I can do is give you the tools. You then need to do the work.

Online lessons mean learning to learn, learning to plan and leaning to build your own practices and habits.

Becoming more self-sufficient and more responsible will give students a boost in self-confidence. That can only be a good thing.

To conclude, online lessons may have some hidden, secret benefits that most are not aware of, and yet make this kind of learning really powerful. 

I see it every day in my students.

If you’d like to find out more about my online piano lessons, why not download my brochure?

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