Online Music Lessons Vs Other Options

Over the past year, numerous lockdowns and government guidelines have forced educational institutions such as schools, colleges and universities to pivot into a new territory and deliver all lessons and lectures online. Likewise, many music education services followed the same protocols and continued to deliver lessons via platforms such as Skype and Zoom. As restrictions ease and we begin to find ourselves in a post lockdown world with options in abundance - a question asked by many is how do 1-1 online lessons compare with other options for music education such as lessons at schools, music schools, and home visits? Can weekly calls over zoom really contend with a conventional face - to - face music lessons? I will attempt to answer this in a logical and un-bias comparison of the four common options parents and students are faced with when considering music lessons: online, at school, at a music school, and home visits. I'll preface this by saying that I've been active as a music teacher for over 10 years, with extensive experience working in well established music schools, primary and secondary schools, as well as home visit services. I will also draw from my experience as both the employed teacher, and the employer who recruits teachers and runs the operation. All four options will be scored out of 5 based on the following five areas: 1) Results - how likely are you to achieve your goals - such as progressing through grades, learning the techniques to allow you to play your favourite style of music etc 2) Cost - the price of your lessons 3) Convenience - considering the actions and measures necessary to deliver each lesson 4) Time efficiency - travel time and waiting 5) Flexibility - to what degree can your lessons be arranged and rearranged to fit your schedule Your local music school Results - Assuming you have a professional teacher who tailors the lessons to you and your specific needs, there's no reason for why great results can't be achieved in these face-to-face lessons. Point - 1 Cost - Running a music school isn't cheap - payroll for admin, rent and maintenance of the building, as well as utilities such as water and electric. This is before even the fundamental costs of running a business are accounted for - such as insurance and VAT. Needless to say, these expenses and the luxury of using the toilet while you patiently wait for your child to do their lesson are passed on to you. Point - 0

Convenience - While it's handy to roll up to a music school and use their instrument for the lesson (albeit the instrument is usually badly maintained to cut costs) you still have to navigate rush hour traffic to take your child for their lesson, and then patiently wait in the reception or in your car for the next 30 minutes to an hour. This is anything but convenient - even if the music school is a few minutes away. Point - 0 Time Efficiency - You will probably agree that the time spent travelling to your nearest music school (or teacher) and waiting around in a stuffy reception room while your child has their lesson can be utilised for other more productive means. Point - 0 Flexibility - Due to the costs of simply keeping the lights on - it's in a music schools best interest to fully optimise the space and the time it can be used. Music teachers are often booked with back to back lessons for a number of hours to ensure the rooms are fully used to their maximum capacity to guarantee a maximum return - therefore it's unlikely that you will be presented with an option to reschedule or cancel your lesson in less than 48 hours, if at all without forfeiting the cost of the entire lesson. Point - 0 Score 1/5 At School Results - As with the music school option, if you have a great teacher and your child is consistent with their practising and commitment, you can expect great results. However, it's worth noting that music teachers generally operate peripatetically and aren't considered school staff, so you're unlikely to ever meet them. Point - 1 Cost - While there will be basic business costs included, a service that operates at schools rarely has to pay to rent the space or any other utilities. This allows for lessons in schools to be delivered at a lower cost than a conventional music school. Point - 1 Convenience - For many parents this is a very convenient option as there is no need to take their child to the lessons as they are delivered during school hours and on school premises. There are major pitfalls with this however, as lessons at school are rarely convenient for the actual children. Quite often the music teacher is faced with a challenging dilemma; to pull the child out of class during a core subject such as maths that they're less likely to enjoy yet need to attend (quite often the classroom teacher will prevent this anyway) - or to pull them out of class during art or P.E, which are considered less important yet they thoroughly enjoy. Usually school guidelines dictate that the child must attend their music lesson during their afternoon classes when core subjects aren't covered - thus the student is likely to be pulled out of class midway through their fun art project or football match; which already creates a less than positive scenario - only to be returned 30 mins later upset that they've missed out. Point - 0 Time Efficiency - As no travel is needed, this is a very time efficient option for parents and children. Unless the child has to stay at break time or lunch time to catch up on the work they missed out on during their music lesson (I've known this to happen on several occasions). Point - 1 Flexibility - Music education services operating in schools rarely allow for lessons to be cancelled or rescheduled unless the absence date is mutually agreed upon before the term starts or shortly after. Expect to forfeit all lesson fees for the school trips/events you didn't account for when you enrolled at the start of term. Point - 0 Score 3/5 Home Visits Results - Again, we'll assume you've found a professional teacher to tailor lessons to your needs. This lesson format will work if you do. Point - 1 Cost - Despite there being no overheads such as rent and utilities, the music teacher must still travel to your home to deliver the lessons. This means their fuel costs and time spent in traffic will be reflected in your higher lesson fees. Point - 0 Convenience - This can be very convenient for parents and children alike as no travelling is required on their part. The child can be left with the teacher for the duration of the lesson while you as a parent take care of work, chores or simply just relax. It's even better if you have a designated space in your home for these kind of activities. I have known some people to feel uncomfortable with home visits as they feel under pressure to maintain a high level of tidiness and cleanliness and feel anxious about being judged despite the state of the house being of no concern to the teacher as long as they're able to do their job. Point - 1 Time Efficiency - This is a great option if eliminating waiting time and travel time is important to you. Let the teacher navigate rush hour traffic as you take care of more important things. Point - 1 Flexibility - Cancellation and rescheduling policies will differ depending on the service, however this also massively depends on logistics. If 2/3 students of their students in your location cease to continue lessons or ask for alternative slot, this may mean that the teacher has to move your lesson to another slot to make it financially viable. Otherwise the teacher can end up doing more travelling than teaching and operating at a loss. Point - 0 Score: 3/5 Online Lessons Results - Assuming that your teacher is a dedicated professional and the work is done on your part then you are guaranteed results. Many believe that the lack of a physical presence of a teacher means the teacher can't correct the student's posture and technique by physical touch. This is a common misconception - as no teacher should be making physical contact anyway due to child protection guidelines. Information must be taught through concise instruction and clear demonstration - and both can be done via a webcam. The lessons can also be recorded and replayed by the student when practising - which is more useful than trying to recollect what your teacher said or by reading the scribbled notes from last week's practice diary entry. Point - 1 Cost - As there are fewer overhead costs and no travel costs, online lessons are generally offered for a considerably lower price than that of a conventional music school. You don't even need to purchase special equipment or additional accessories for your device - a simple laptop or tablet with a working mic and camera will do. Point - 1 Convenience - This is the ultimate convenience option as it doesn't necessitate travel for the student or the teacher. You don't even need to worry about your home being tidy before the teacher rings the doorbell. Point - 1 Time Efficiency - As no travel is required, you have more time to do all the things you want to do. Point - 1 Flexibility - The degree to which you can cancel and reschedule lessons without forfeiting the full lesson fee depends on the policies of the service you're enrolled with, however they tend to be far more flexible as rooms don't need to be used to maximum capacity and no travel is required. Point - 1 Score: 5/5

Considering these five areas, online lessons offer the same, if not more value for less cost and with better flexibility compared to other more conventional options. While it's true that some students may have needs that can't easily be addressed with online lessons, generally speaking if you can at the very least achieve the same results as you would with in-person lessons, but for a lower price and on more flexible terms with online lessons - most would agree this less conventional option is the better and more pragmatic one to choose. Got a question on how online music lessons will work for you? Send us a message :)

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