What to expect from online lessons at Inner West Institute of Music

Our recent rapid transition from face to face lessons to online lessons has been a steep learning curve for us all. Watching students and teachers embrace the intricacies of technology set ups has been amazing and every week we are all learning something new.

Here’s what to expect when learning via online lessons.

Our preferred platform is Zoom

Zoom is a cloud based video conferencing technology. It was primarily used by small to medium businesses as a way to connect remotely with team members and clients. Now, it has been embraced by educators everywhere as the video platform of choice.

Zoom has a number of advanced functions that allow a more in depth lesson through sharing of resources. However, we are also happy to use technology that our families and students feel more comfortable with.

Many use FaceTime and Skype on a regular basis to communicate with family and friends. So if this is what you prefer to use, we are happy to accommodate this as well!

Connecting with your teacher

We encourage our teachers to be flexible and adaptable to different situations, however generally you can expect to be given a link to use for every lesson. When you click on this link Zoom will open and you will be directed to a ‘waiting room’. This is just like face to face lessons, where you need to wait until the student before you has finished their lesson.

Once they are ready, the teacher will let you in to the classroom. And this is where the magic begins!

Use of cameras and your child’s safety

Just like our face to face lessons, you are always welcome in the classroom. We particularly encourage this for online lessons. All Zoom interactions now require a password to enter. This was an additional feature recently added by Zoom to ensure only invited guests could enter a conference.

In addition all of our teachers have valid Working With Children Checks which have additional child protection requirements required by law.

Depending on the instrument being taught, some of our teachers have moved to two cameras – one that shows their face and another the instrument. Our piano teacher Jason and drum teacher Alejandro use this type of set up.

This means that teachers can demonstrate techniques and show more clearly what their hands are doing with any piece.

More than just playing

Using Zoom gives teachers the flexibility to provide far more interaction that just giving instructions. Teachers who have a copy of the music that you are playing can share this on their screen and circle passages and points that require attention in real time. Students can transfer these notes to their own score in real time.

We also use various musical education websites to encourage music note and composition interaction. As an example Jason Ford allows younger students to take control of his laptop and control the games from their end! This helps to hold the engagement of younger students.

Older students can work on compositions with their teacher as well. Together they come up with a melody and then use a composition website to notate it.

Set up for success

If you can place a camera as close to the student’s hands, then this is usually the best outcome for the lesson. This is so your teacher can focus on posture and finger placement. Often this is best achieved by putting a tablet on a stand or a high surface next to the student. Here are a few ideas to try:

A lesson for the easily distracted

If you know your child loses interest quickly or struggles with concentration at the best of times, we strongly encourage that you take the time to attend the lesson with them, or check in on them regularly. Whilst our teachers know all the tricks in the book to bring a child’s attention back to the lesson, the addition of distance in an online learning environment can make this a little tricky!

We are all learning more about this new way of teaching and learning that has been thrown upon us, but there has been so many benefits that we are excited for the future. We now have added access to the internet during the lesson in order to share so many more resources, apps and games with our students.

We are continuing to work on our online offering and can’t wait to share them with you. If you are a student, come and join us in the IWIM Student Hub which has restricted access for students only. Teachers are adding recordings of AMEB and other pieces daily. Have a request? Send it through! We also have some fun competitions to enter to keep you occupied during the holidays.

You can also join us here for Blitz Grade 1 Musicianship online group classes.

Can’t wait to see you on the screen!