For centuries, the landscape for arts education has had a certain unique niche that often has often consisted of the one-on-one ‘master & apprentice’ relationship between teacher and student. The necessity of passing down a craft has come from a few places, notably the economic need from working artists as well as he love and interest of the art from prospective students.
This has manifested into one-on-one private lessons that have set the standard for how, most notably instrumental music education, has taken place over the years, but now with the shifting landscape of delivery methods; the student market has changed as well.
Because of the now universal access of information and communication with experts, it’s fairly obvious that the student market for freelance educators currently spans the entire globe. With online instruction in music or the arts, the freelancer has the tools and resources to set up their own classes and lessons online, and every possible means to promote them to a global online community. While we have heard about many academic classes and course tutoring happening online, but what about for these one on one music lessons?
While this vast educational opportunity is there for the taking, there are certain considerations a teacher must take in while strategizing their approach to setting up online classes or lessons. Here are just a few things among others to think about in doing this that may make the endless options and approaches a little easier and more reachable (for those tech-savvy, experienced, or the complete beginner):
Think about prerecorded vs. live video chat. This is one consideration that is a double edge sword, but no teacher is simply limited to one model. With pre-recorded classes/lessons, one can gain a bigger class size without the linear trading of time for money with 1-on-1 classes. On the other hand, the private lesson approach is a more familiar take, which allows one to translate their current skill set to teaching online. This way you don’t have to adjust your teaching style as much as you would have.
Promoting/marketing your own classes vs. teaching for a ‘marketplace’ based website. While there is a certain amount of freedom in hosting your own class with having complete control, there is also the added stress of scheduling, taking payments, etc… There are many sites out there that take much of the marketing and logistical work for you, leaving you with the sole responsibility of teaching the class (taking a commission of what you charge). These are sites such as Skillshare , MusiCloud Online Music Lessons, PowHow and others.
If you are a working musician, artist, etc… you don’t have to re-invent the wheel to get new students. Use your current following as an artist (or even existing in-person students) to translate into online students. Use social media tools, YouTube videos, etc, to promote your online music classes and lessons, art classes, yoga, etc… to fans that you may already have outside of your geographic location.
Research the existing tools out there and figure out what you need and what is best for you to set up your online classroom/studio. For live video-chat many people use the obvious in Skype, but in truth, there are much better platforms for education. Several videoconferencing software’s out there (such as WebEx by Cisco) features extended tools such as simultaneous document sharing that you can make real time notes to. This may also include virtual classrooms such as Coursera. It’s also helpful to take any existing coursework and materials and turn them into .pdfs for easy transfer and sharing. Take into consideration images, play-along tracks for music lessons, or anything else you may use in instruction.
Think about the big picture with online education and yourself as a freelance educator. The more seamless and natural the transition is from one’s online class from their in-person class, the better the success rate and retention of students, and ultimately from this, your own personal success.