Expanding Your Music School Online

Online learning is becoming the new reality for many people around the world, and music lessons are certainly no different. What was previously completed by sitting together in-person, now needs to be accomplished through video conferencing, planning, and lots of verbal instruction. 

There are many benefits that music teachers receive from expanding their school online, but there are also significant changes that need to be addressed. In this article we will examine the key differences that should be considered when moving music lessons virtual.   

Online vs. In-Person Music Lessons

As with anything, there are both benefits and limitations when it comes to teaching music online. Arguably the biggest draw for music teachers moving their practice virtually is the convenience and flexibility in terms of scheduling, working hours, and studio location. 

Since teachers are no longer constrained to local students, they are able to find clients from all over the world, making it easy to pick and choose what hours to teach. Because local students are no longer the target market, music teachers are able to save on transportation costs and time that could otherwise be used to see more students. 

One of the advantages of holding in-person music lessons is the ability to physically correct body posture, hand position, and technique in real time. Although many music teachers have found increased verbal instruction to work just as well, sometimes this comes with some frustration when there’s technology issues hindering the lesson. 

Technology difficulties are likely the most typical and well-known limitation for any online lessons or classes. Sometimes the lag and latency in video transmission coupled with faulty internet can be annoying and time consuming for all users involved. Luckily, with some consideration and planning these problems can be prevented or mitigated completely.

Key Considerations When Teaching Online 

Below are some of the most prevalent considerations to keep in mind when expanding your business online.

1. Software

One of the most obvious differences between in-person and online music teaching is the actual medium of instruction – the software. Video conferencing makes it possible to still forge connections with students and guide them through increased verbal instruction. 

Among the many software available to music teachers, there are a few that really stand out. Many of these software have both free and paid versions, so depending on your business needs and budget considerations, choose what would work best for you and your students. 

Zoom 

Advantages

  • Well-known, stable platform.
  • The video and sound quality are great.
  • No need to schedule calls, just send a link to access the lesson.
  • High Fidelity Music Mode available in the settings for professional-grade sound and background noise cancelation. 
  • Ability to record lessons for easy playback. 

Disadvantages 

  • Both teachers and students need to download Zoom to access the platform. 
  • Group calls (3+ people) have a 40 minute limit in their free version. 
Skype

Advantages

  • Versatile – works on all devices. 
  • Longstanding reputation, many people may already be familiar with Skype. 
  • Ability to schedule calls in advance. 
  • Ability to record lessons for easy playback. 

Disadvantages 

  • Both parties must download Skype and create an account to use.
  • Requires you to add students as contacts before a video call, making it less user-friendly and time-consuming.
Google Hangouts 

Advantages 

  • Versatile – works on all devices. 
  • Receive a link to access the lesson. 
  • Ability to record lessons for easy playback.

Disadvantages

  • Only available if the instructor has a Google account. 
Lessonspace 

Advantages 

  • Dedicated video conferencing platform for teachers. 
  • Receive a link to access the lesson. 
  • Teachworks customers have access to special pricing.

Disadvantages

  • Requires a paid subscription. 

Regardless of the video software you choose for your music school, it’s important to be adaptable to the changing needs of your students. There may be times when teaching online that students may not be able to access your preferred software, and may need an alternative like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, or even Facetime (if you have an iPhone). 

In addition, It’s important to keep your software up-to-date to avoid any potential technology lags or falters. Not only does this protect you from potential security breaches, but the newest version of software usually contains important updates like bug fixes and additional features. 

Likewise, having an excellent video lesson platform doesn’t mean much if your home internet is underperforming. Before starting any online lessons, double check your internet speed (you can do so here) and if your connection is steady. Try to position your studio set-up in a location close to your internet router, or even connect via ethernet cable for optimal connectivity. 

2. Marketing 

Advertising your online music school is a bit different than when done in person. One of the major ways of attracting potential clients would be through word of mouth or print advertising, which isn’t as relevant if your focus has shifted globally. 

If you were first teaching locally, you may have long standing students which can still be valuable when marketing your music school. In this case, you could collect their testimonials and/or reviews and advertise them on your websites or biographies on marketing platforms. 

Where to market your yourself

One of the ways that music teachers find students are through directories or online job boards. These websites are designed to help students find online teachers of a specific subject from all over the world. Typically these sites require you to register, apply, and then create a professional account, and sometimes even include a subscription fee.  

Some directories that are specific to music lessons are: 

  • Music Teachers Network – For advertising your services to students in the United States. Requires an application before you have access to their directory. They have two options for accepted teachers: (1) use their network for lead generation which requires a subscription fee. (2) become a Music Teachers Network independent contractor that pays by the hour.  
  • Music Teachers Directory – This directory is a great way to find students in the United States, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand who are looking for both online and in-person lessons. It also requires an application process and has multiple options that are both free and subscription based.
  • Music Teaching Online – This is a global community specific to online music lessons that also requires an application process, at least 2 years of music education experience and a background check. 
  • Take Lessons – Designed for online music lessons, Take Lessons is a platform that allows you to advertise yourself on their interface while connecting you with a great number of students all over the world. 

Other great resources to market your online music lessons are freelancing sites like Fiverr and Upwork. Although not specific to music, these are large communities that can help you find more clients from all over the world. 

Developing an online presence 

Running an online music school means developing your authority on teaching your instrument. Now more than ever, clients do an increasing amount of research on products or services before actually purchasing them. They’re looking for indicators that suggest that your personal brand is professional, polished, and worthwhile to pursue. 

Setting a good first impression for prospective clients can be achieved through establishing an online presence. This can be done multiple ways, like through social media, content creation (like blogs, videos, instructional handbooks) and perhaps even investing in a website.  

Creating a website

Although not necessary, some online music teachers choose to create their own website to better establish their online presence. There are many options for building a website that are both free and paid. Wix is a great free option to create a basic website through their templates. Other options like WordPress are paid and allow more flexibility in design and integrations with your business.  

Content creation 

Content creation is something that many in-person music teachers would never fathom having to do, but it’s become a large part of an online teaching experience. Creating blog posts and youtube videos aren’t required to in order to teach online, but they’re worth it. Quality content, especially when updated frequently can be a way to build up an email subscriber list to generate leads, and increase your website’s overall visibility on search engines. This means your website is more likely to be seen by potential customers.  

Being active on social media 

An active social media page is a great way to advertise your music lessons while engaging with potential customers. On platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, you can publish and share posts that your students can relate with, target potential customers with hashtags that all increase your brand awareness. Additionally, if you choose to create content like blog posts or videos, social media is a great way to share it with a larger audience. 

3. Pricing

Pricing online music lessons is a little bit different than teaching in-person. Teaching within your home town typically means that you only need to compete with the average prices set based on local competition and availability for your specific instrument. 

Now that your target audience can be found throughout the world, your competitors are no different. With a larger competition pool targeting the same instrument or skills, prices can often fluctuate to stay competitive, making it a bit difficult to set definitive costs for your services. 

Figuring out how much you should be charging for online classes requires you to do some market research on your competitors. You can find them on the same music school marketing softwares that you use to advertise your own services.

Find what these people charge their clients by searching these directories specifically for the type of instrument you offer, and take note of what others charge per lesson. It’s important to keep in mind your own level of education and experience when comparing to others online. 

4. Business Management 

Managing the business side of things was a bit more straightforward when teaching music in-person. Students could previously pay via cash or check and be on their way. However, teaching online requires some pre-planning to arrange payments and sending invoices. Without the right music teacher software, this can be difficult to execute efficiently.   

Online music teachers require functional solutions to help them manage their business completely virtually. In addition to invoicing and payroll, music school management software should have many different functionalities like scheduling, reminders, and student progress tracking in order to run your business as smoothly as possible. 

Teachworks has many options and advantages for music teachers. Some of the notable features include the ability to send out SMS/email reminders for scheduled lesson to reduce the likelihood of no-shows, invoice customers and accept payments, provide clients easy access to sign-up and join classes, send detailed notes, as well as keep track of the pieces students are learning and performing using the Repertoire Tracker Add-On.   

Conclusion 

The advantages to moving music lessons online are plentiful. This is why so many music instructors are expanding their business to include virtual lessons from students around the globe. However, there are some large differences in the logistics of teaching online that need to be addressed. With some planning and market research, music teachers can ensure that the transition online is a successful one.

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