During the lockdown, many things have become much more difficult. Non-essential shops had to close, entertainment venues were shut down, schools were suspended, and almost the entire country was confined to their homes. All of this meant there was a drop in overall spending (apart from to panic buy toilet roll) in all sectors. Many places lost business almost overnight, and many businesses had to close permanently due to the sudden loss in income.
However, one of the places which seemed to have thrived on adapting to the new circumstances of the pandemic is music schools. Applications for study have been rising because of the manner in which institutions have been rising to meet online course demands. Here’s how they did it.
Frequent and clear communication is important regardless of whether a global pandemic is happening or not, however it is especially key for teaching, and even more so online. Being able to have student-teacher communication is imperative to student learning. With online communication, students are able to ask questions and receive quick responses from their tutors, just how they’re able to in person. Frequent communication is key to making sure students aren’t falling behind due to the pandemic. This kind of communication allows for more personal and attentive teaching as each response is individualized. While it may not be perfect, this kind of communication is key to distanced learning.
One of the most utilized tools during the pandemic has been video-communication. Whether that be Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other forms of video chatting, these communication platforms have been invaluable. Another reason music schools have been having an influx of applicants is, as a music student, all that is needed is high-quality sound for an online appraisal of your practice. While it’s true group practices are harder to achieve, individual practices aren’t hindered, and another workaround is available for group practice. This also means that once distanced learning is no longer necessary, students will still know the sound of playing with others and find it easy to adapt when able to practice with others again.
Another further reason music schools are thriving during lockdown is their huge access to online resources. Although other institutions also have access to subject-specific recourses, music schools are already refined within their niche of music, allowing for further funding to be allocated to specialist resources within different music niches. Having extra funding allows students great online resources to learn from: teaching videos, sheet music, access to the latest books, and so much more. With high-quality online resources, students are still able to receive a good education.
We’ve discussed teacher-communication and video platforms to teach students, but not much on how important student interaction is. In order for students to learn and retain what they’re taught, students need to be more active in their education than ever before. Some music schools in particular have set up precursor agreements for their online applicants. To be accepted as a student, all applicants much agree to the following terms: a recording of their practice must be sent once each week to be appraised and critiqued by their tutors, along with a slow tempo recording of their technical work, as well as written music scores. This means all students must be engaged and their progress monitored and logged. All students must adhere to these tasks to ensure they are on track and keeping up with distanced learning. It is one of the many safeguards put in place to help make sure no student is falling behind due to the new, unavoidable teaching methods the pandemic has made staple. Schools have also allowed these requirements to be sent via any platform the student finds easiest to access. This ensures no student is disadvantaged due to software or hardware access, and for more flexibility during the difficult time of distance learning.
Although there are negatives to distanced learning, many have said learning online will help students become familiar with music software and the skills needed to operate them, such as how to mix in key, overlay their own music to others, and record their work with good sound.
Although the notion of distance learning brings many unknowns, it also brings new ways to interact with students, as well as teaching them to learn and access their music in different ways.