As many music educators have discovered, learning a musical instrument is a mind and body activity. Online resources are available to help music students and teachers know remotely.
For example, music educator Ollie Tunmer, a British body percussionist and former STOMP cast member, offers online lessons for children and teachers. He promotes movement and embodied music intuition through an approach known as Dalcroze Eurythmics.
Online learning is becoming increasingly popular, but it’s important to consider the accessibility of your curriculum and resources. Accessibility refers to the ability of a person with a disability or situational limitation to interact effectively with a product or environment. For example, a website that provides video content is accessible to people with visual impairments if the videos are captioned, and the controls on the player are clearly labeled.
Educators who must provide instruction to students with cognitive impairments must ensure that their websites and other digital products comply with Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act and other government and school-based accessibility policies. Providing virtual learning resources for music educators that are accessible to the broadest possible range of users reduces your liability and helps educators reach new audiences.
Many music organizations have stepped up to make their educational offerings available online. For example, Carnegie Hall offers a variety of free online activities for students of all ages, including Musical Explorers and the Weill Music Institute’s NYO-U. These offerings can be a great way for teachers to supplement their curriculum without traveling or teaching in person during the pandemic.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many music education and performance resources are becoming available for students and teachers alike. Various tools provide flexible ways to learn music from home or on the go, from virtual instruments and lessons to free songwriting and guitar lesson videos.
Some new online learning tools are asynchronous, meaning students log on at scheduled times to work on course material with an instructor’s guidance. These tools are well suited to learners with the self-discipline to follow a structured work timeline. Other new digital learning tools offer a combination of synchronous and asynchronous elements, such as live video conference sessions with instructors and chats for students to ask questions or collaborate with peers.
Although nearly three-quarters of participants in this study received some professional development aimed at supporting them during the pandemic, most rated their support as lukewarm (Mdn score = 4), the most frequently cited areas for further professional development were general technology applications and a more focused focus on wellness.
Educators often use music to help students explore and express themselves while developing important social-emotional skills like confidence and resilience. These resources help to keep students musically inspired and engaged from a distance.
As these resources are available on various platforms, they can be used by any student at their own pace. This can be especially helpful when addressing the needs of students experiencing COVID-19-related disruptions to their music education, including those their schools have mandated.
Curated Ideas for Classroom Musical Engagement
Many of these curated ideas are project-based and encourage students to reflect on their perspectives and learning. These types of projects can also be great for supporting various learning styles. Students could create podcasts on a topic, collaborate with peers to create a song, or create and record music using a web app. This enables learners to continue sharing their work, reflecting on and discussing their process asynchronously, and demonstrates how they can be flexible in their online learning experiences.
Online learning resources can be used to develop a richer musical experience for students, providing opportunities beyond the usual classroom practice of Creating, Responding, and Performing. For example, virtual instruments can allow musicians to engage in the creative process without needing a physical device. These instruments, along with interactive improvisations and ways of showing and telling, are a way to introduce musical methods to students while helping them to build the confidence and autonomy they need for successful participation in their music classes.
The sudden requirement for emergency remote teaching in 2020 threw up new challenges to teachers, which required them to adapt their practice in unfamiliar ways. The impact of these new pedagogical shifts may not have been immediate, but, as the papers show, they will undoubtedly be felt in time to come. The challenge for researchers will be developing a research methodology that enables educators and students to capture these changes to support their long-term development.
Virtual learning provides opportunities for students to work collaboratively with peers from all over the world. This allows students to apply music fundamentals in unique ways that may not be possible with an in-person group lesson. It also opens up opportunities for students who need help to afford traditional musical instruments to get involved in music education.
Despite the availability of online music instruction resources, many participants hesitated to shift from their primarily in-person teaching methods to an entirely online delivery model due to concerns about student and parent adaptability and technology’s suitability to music education. Additionally, professional development geared towards the general classroom teacher often did not address the specific needs of music teachers and their ability to integrate online education into their pedagogical approach.
Whether teaching in a fully online environment or a hybrid classroom, music educators must be prepared for the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. To help navigate these new hurdles, NAfME has compiled a collection of online resources, from tips and considerations for teaching in the virtual classroom to various music education resources that both in-person and virtual instructors can use.