Friday, March 19, 2010

Teach From the Beach: Summer Band Lessons Go Virtual

By Mark T. Burke

It's 9am on a beautiful summer day and you've just finished your morning bike ride.  You've read your daily blog feeds and even gotten in 2 cups of favorite morning beverage. You check your watch and it's now 9:20, time to setup the laptop and prepare for your summer lessons scheduled for today. You head out to your sun deck, setup the laptop and get your instrument ready. 9:28 am and you're camera is showing your picture as you await the arrival of your first student.  Right on time, Joanne logs in and joins you online. 

"Good morning Joanne. How's your first week of summer vacation going?" you asked Joanne.

"Great Mr. Clarino, how about you?", asks Joanne.


"Wonderful, thanks for asking", you respond.  "Joanne, before we left school, we covered the first Lesson in Unit 1 of your online course, and since then I reviewed your 2 submissions online. Did you see my comments in the Message Center?", you asked Joanne. 


"I did Mr. Clarino, but I am still having trouble moving from the E to the F and not stopping. What can I do?" asked Joanne. 


"Let's hear number 3 on page 7 Joanne.  Use the software based metronome I showed you and set it to 80 BPM.  After it starts, begin playing when you are ready", you instruct Joanne.

The lesson proceeds for the next 30 minutes.  Before you disconnect with Joanne, you give her the assignment for the next lesson.

"Joanne, for next week, lets again review number 5 and 6 from Unit 1, Lesson 1 as well as start on Lesson 2.  I know we talked about half notes so the written descriptions will help you review the materials. And, check out the hands on activities described in the lesson. Once you feel you understand all the topics, take the online practice quiz and let me know how you do. In Lesson 2, there is 1 assignment to submit to me. Follow the same process as you did last week and submit your recording to me.  I'll listen to it and give you feedback before our next lesson.  By the way, I understand you are going on vacation next week" you say to Joanne.


"Yes, we leave Sunday and will be back on Wednesday. Can we have our lesson on Friday next week?", Joanne asks. 


"How about Friday at 3:00pm?" you ask Joanne.


"Great!  I'll submit my assignment recording before I leave. I'll have my computer with me, so I'll review your feedback.  I won't be taking my instrument with me, but my mom says we can check your suggestions. Is that ok?, Joanne responds.


"Sounds great Joanne.  Have fun on vacation. If you need input, send me a message through the message center. I'll check in each day and get back to you", you reply to Joanne.  "See you next Friday."  
This entire scenario is not a dream for the future, this is a 100% real life application demonstrating the benefits of our online instrumental music courses.  Summer band programs can pull teachers, students and families away from life so much that they become more of a hassle than a beneficial education program. 

The benefits of using our program for summer lesson are:
  1. No need for students or teachers to travel to the school for lessons.
  2. Create flexible scheduling to meet student, family and teacher needs.
  3. Keep a line of communication open "BETWEEN" lessons through submitted recordings and assessments.
  4. Provide instant access to music concepts for student reference. Students no longer have to wait to work directly with you to learn what music symbols mean, or ask parents that are not musicians for help.  No more web surfing only to find incomplete or inaccurate descriptions. Online courses provide full content explanations to help students when and where they need help.  
  5. Encourage open question and answer interactions with secure, Message Center communications (no emails sent to personal accounts, no phone calls to teacher's homes, no using outside Social Networking).  All communications are maintained in a teacher account for future reference and record keeping.
  6. Make the best use of teacher time should a student need to reschedule.  There is nothing more frustrating than being at the school without the ability to be productive on other tasks. 
  7. Use technology to motivate students during a really busy summer routine (we all know students are distracted by the long, sunny days -- not us teachers though :-) 
  8. No need to schedule facilities over the summer, during times when maintenance crews are working on building projects.
  9. THE MOST IMPORTANT:  Keep year 1 and 2 students musically active over the summer.  If teachers don't meet with them each week, tracking their progress online can be done through a series of recordings and messages.  Teachers can easily tailor interactions with students to include more web cam lessons, or more submissions, whichever works best for the students.
Creating a summer program just got easier than ever.  Maybe you have a summer program that's been windling over the years due to various conflicts and lack of family support.  Give us a call 570.437.8826 or on SKYPE at "viaAcademies". Let's talk about how we can help your summer program grow and prove more valuable than ever.

For more information, contact me directly at info@viaacademies.com. 

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