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How to teach music on Skype

How To Teach Music On Skype

Dear friends, today we are talking about a topic that concerns or interests many of you: How to teach music on Skype.
This is a very delicate subject because we know very well, as good musicians, how important it is to have a good teacher from the very first notes. The questions that led me to write this post were:

If I am a good teacher why can’t I help and give the opportunity to learn with me even if there is so much distance?

  • Is it possible to give real educational help on an instrument through a screen in (almost) 2020?
  • Turning between questions and answers I decided to ask a fantastic musician and teacher who made her work an opportunity open to the whole world thanks to music lessons on Skype.

Meet Jolene!

@JOLENEFLUTE : Jolene Harju Madewell

I had the honor of being able to interview this fantastic woman who every day helps her students to improve their technique on the Flute. Through the videos and her life experiences between difficulties and successes, Jolene gives her support in the routine of a true musician life.

1. Can you please introduce yourself and tell us how it starts your business on skype and how did you grow?


I’m a flutist and teacher located in Austin, Texas, and I’ve been living here for about 5 years. Prior, I graduated with a Master of Music degree in Flute Performance from Florida State University, and a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance from the University of New Hampshire. When I first moved to Austin, I had immense trouble finding students locally because I didn’t yet know anyone here, so I immediately took a job working in insurance while trying to get students on the side. Since I had already established myself online through my blog and social media, I started leaning my efforts towards establishing a Skype studio, and I’m now split between teaching online and in-person lessons.

2. Which are the best tools to use or what is your tech-setting (for you and your students)?

For online lessons, I teach from my MacBook pro with a Rode NT-USB microphone plugged in. We either use Skype or FaceTime. I also find Zoom to be a quality video calling platform for lessons. Many students use their laptops or iPads for lessons, often without a microphone. As long as the connection is good, the image and sound quality are suitable for teaching and learning. I recommend being connected to directly to Ethernet where possible, or checking your WiFi connection before starting to ensure the call will have no issues. 

3. Since you are not there in person for a hands-on lesson, do you have a protocol/specific instruction for each student? 

My main interests in teaching are based around self-awareness, which involves a lot of questioning, guided exploration, and discussion. My goal is to guide students toward a clearer vision of their own experience so they can have a deeper understanding when it comes time to problem-solve and improve on their own. I find that this approach works well for online lessons.

Through my years of teaching experience both online and in-person, I’ve developed a strong sense of what a student may need based on how they sound through the speakers, where the difficulty is in what they’re playing, how they’re holding their instrument, or even their facial expressions. I don’t need to see a full-body view to know when a student isn’t connected to the ground, for example. One difference from in-person lessons is that I can’t walk around to get another view of the student. If I want to see a student from the side versus the front, for instance, I’ll just need to ask them to turn.

4. Do you have an age-range or everybody are welcome? I can imagine that with really small children it can be more difficult online.

I personally require students to have a minimum 2-3 years of experience and to be at least 14 years of age to take online lessons. By this point, students typically have a comfortable relationship with their instrument and can take verbal instructions and comment on their own experience with greater sophistication, which ties into my core theme of Effortless Playing Through Self-Awareness. The majority of my online studio is made up of advanced players that are looking to elevate their playing and deepen their understanding of fundamental skills to find greater artistic freedom.

Here you can find her GUIDELINES

5. How to avoid internet problems during a lesson? 

Sometimes, technical issues are unavoidable! Luckily, students taking online lessons are aware of this, as well, and tend to have patience and understanding if something goes wrong from either end. The most common issue is that the screen freezes due to a connection interruption. Usually, ending and re-starting the call fixes the problem. Other tips to avoid issues are making sure your FaceTime and Skype apps are updated, (sometimes, the call won’t go through if they’re not), avoiding streaming or downloading large files to avoid a slow connection, and making sure your device is available to receive the call, meaning you may want to close your phone if you want the FaceTime call to go to your laptop, for example.

6. What do you want to say to who is totally contrary to skype music lesson? 

When it comes to any music lessons, finding the right teacher for you is the most important thing. If you find a teacher that you feel is a good match, aligns with your values and goals, and teaches online, give it a try! I have witnessed countless moments of growth and improvement in my online students and can confirm that one can absolutely improve and achieve their goals through online lessons!

Jolene flute studio

I thank Jolene immensely for her availability in this interview about How to teach music on Skype. I think this can be a big change of the future music lessons. How many of us can’t/couldn’t afford to join the dream teacher?
Jolene is the example of a teacher who puts all herself into the goals of her students. No matter how many kilometres they are apart, the important thing is to know that she/he is the right teacher, the one who keeps you going and makes you grow.

What do you think about this topic? Leave a comment or spread the word.