A month ago, my job, teaching music virtually, was obscure. I am a full time virtual music teacher. With all of the school closures due to COVID-19, now almost everyone is teaching music virtually. I know how overwhelming teaching online can be.
When I first started teaching online, I felt like I was drowning and I was lucky enough to have a ton of training and support. My goal is and has been to help music teachers as much as I can as they transition their classes online.
We have enough “what,” now we need “how”
There have been so many companies generously offering their resources for free from SmartMusic to PlayPosit. Now that you have the “what” or the resources, many teachers are looking for how to use them for teaching music virtually.
A resource is only good if you know how to put it to good use.
I have compiled a list of the trainings, articles, and podcasts I’ve done so far. If there’s a topic you’d like to see covered, please comment below! I’ll be doing as much as I can over the next few weeks.
Creating Opportunities for Virtual Performance
As music teachers, our end goal is often some sort of performance, whether that’s a elementary sing-a-long, band concert, or school musical. You can still create performance opportunities for your students in the virtual environment.
If you’d like to see an example of how I do that with my own students, check the videos below!
How to Create an Eric Whitacre Style Band/Orchestra/Choir
This is probably one of the most common questions I see. If you want to create an exact replica of Eric Whitacre’s virtual choirs, you’re out of luck unless you have a steep budget, expensive software, and a lot of expertise.
However, if you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of quality, you can easily do this on your own. I’ll show you the method I use and after a bit of practice, I’ve been able to put together student recordings every two weeks or so in under an hour.
I create these recordings every two so students can hear what they sound like together as we rehearse. The final recording I produce, takes a little longer as I add more effects. But don’t complicate things! Keep it simple. Ahe main thing to remember is that we are creating community through music, even in these tough times.
How to Host a Virtual Art and Talent Show
The art teachers and I put on a Virtual Art and Talent show for our K-12 school every semester. The winter art and talent show is grades 6-12 and the spring art and talent show is grades K-12. Hosting a virtual Art and Talent show for any grade level is feasible!
In the video below, I show you options to consider for both synchronous and asynchronous performances.
Rehearsing Performance Ensembles Virtually
Before I taught virtually, I was a band director. Teaching band is near and dear to my heart. Therefore, I knew I had to find a way to make it work virtually. Over the past three semesters, I have worked on developing and tweaking a model of virtual ensembles using Zoom and SmartMusic. In other words, I’ve done the work and already went through all the trial and error so you don’t have to!
If you prefer to read articles, check out 4 Tips for Moving Your Performance Ensemble Online and I Signed Up for SmartMusic, Now What? for help with transitioning your performance ensembles to e-learning.
And don’t forget to download a FREE warm up that you can upload right into SmartMusic!
Teaching General Music Virtually
The bulk of my week is spent teaching general music. Anything you did in brick and mortar can be done virtually(with a little bit of creativity). Yes, even singing games!
One of my favorite tools for teaching online is Nearpod. I think it is such a great tool and has a lot of separate tools all in one(polling, open ended, drawing on whiteboard, quiz/assessment, videos, slides, and even a game!).
If you’re a fan of podcasts, make sure you check out That Music Podcast with Bryson Tarbet episode 15, which I talk about teaching music virtually!
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out this elementary general music lesson using Zoom and Nearpod to learn and play Doggie, Doggie!
General Virtual Teaching Tips & Tricks
Teaching online is a completely different skillset. I use a combination of Zoom and BlackBoard Collaborate in my virtual classroom.
Check out these Instagram posts for my top tips:
- Part 1: Classroom Management in Zoom
- Part 2: Classroom Management in Zoom
- Part 3: Classroom Management in Zoom
- How Do I Do that Virtually? (think-pair-share, look up when ready, and independent work time)
- Host a Virtual Lunch Bunch
- Create Work Space Boundaries
If you prefer to learn visually, I created an Intro to Zoom for Music Teachers video. Check it out below!
How can I help you with teaching music virtually?
If you have questions, comment below! If you have an idea for what you want to see covered next, let me know! I am planning to continue to do demonstrations and trainings over the next few weeks.
And don’t forget, you can do this. Take a deep breath. It’s okay if you make mistakes. We’re living in unprecedented times. Ultimately, focus on bringing your students and creating community together through music.