Guest Post: Moving Towards an Online Musical Curriculum- Finding Unexpected Benefits and Silver Linings in Uncharted Territories
UniSound loves to feature talented writers from its member organizations! Want to learn how you can write a post for the UniSound blog? Contact us!
We are several weeks into this journey of making and teaching music across the miles. Students and teachers have settled into routines, having their tech abilities stretched to new heights. Along the way, our students are surprising us- they are making it work, with great attitudes, steady progress, and joyful music making.
Teachers are pleased with the afforded possibilities and intentionality that are present in the online lessons. Working together, the teacher-student-parent team is creating beneficial and enjoyable moments of learning.
Instructors at the Center for Young Musicians were asked to reflect on one unanticipated benefit of online teaching. What follows are the silver linings in an unusual time.
Greater engagement: Each must listen with intent to hear comments, directions, and music. “Both teacher and student are strengthening their listening skills, attention, focus, and mindfulness.”
Creative lesson prep: Teachers are finding online resources that enhance their teaching, such as musictheory.net. Students and teachers can interact with notes, pitches, and chords. Some are “making more recordings of melodies and accompaniments for their reference”.
Focused modeling: “…being able to see things in 2D is actually a plus – I can sometimes model a hand position more clearly on a screen….their screen view of themselves makes a handy mirror for self-assessment.”
Student pianists on their own instrument! An added benefit for pianists- they are “more at ease playing their own piano, as opposed to adjusting to a different piano for their lesson.”
Time well spent: Having Zoom lessons is creating resourcefulness on the part of families. Students and parents are getting set up ahead of the lesson to make use of every minute: “I’m able to get a lot of teaching done! When the lesson starts, the student is already waiting, has their violin tuned, and is ready to go! “
Independent thinkers! “I’m not there to lean over and write in their music, so they are learning how to find measure numbers, identify notation, etc., much faster than in in-person lessons!”
Interactive visual aids: “The ability to share screen and use technology in new ways …. We are using Finale Notepad to write rhythms and melodies, starting to do ensemble arrangements, trying some recording sessions together, and games during lessons.”
Resources at the ready: “It is easy to pull up performances of music that students are working on, and listen together, and convenient to share sheet music quickly and brainstorm new pieces.”
Connection to home: Seeing how home music rooms are arranged has given teachers unique insight into the home environment.
Joy of music making as a family: Musikgarten classes are demonstrating joy in the little ones’ participation, musical growth, purposeful listening, and parent involvement!
Now that we have navigated seven weeks of teaching online, the lessons are more about learning, and less about the format. We are stretched in good ways. We can easily see the advantages now and are thankful for the new perspective, though we long for in-person collaboration. And perhaps now more than ever, we are all thankful for the gift of music, which continues to bring beauty and enrichment to our world!
To get some insight into CYM programs, check out this write-up on one of CYM’s graduating seniors!
Amy Rucker is a Staff Writer and Piano and Early Childhood Music instructor at the Center for Young Musicians. She is a National Teacher Trainer for Musikgarten, the current president of the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association, and adjunct faculty at Duquesne University.