As we all know, the world changed greatly in 2020. Out of necessity, working and learning remotely have become the norm.
My world as a drum teacher (and a drummer) changed completely on 20th March 2020. I could no longer visit people’s homes, nor could they attend lessons in my studio. Over that weekend, I had to find a way to proceed with lessons or be forced to hang up my sticks for the foreseeable future. If you’d have asked me about virtual lessons prior to that date, I would have been reluctant.
What have I discovered teaching on Zoom?
Ever since 2005, I have always taught face-to-face, in the same room. I have taught groups and one-to-one. I thought about virtual lessons but I concluded they wouldn’t be as good, for the student, or for me.
What I have discovered since March 2020 is that not only are virtual Zoom lessons as good as face-to-face lessons, they are in fact better in many ways. My students have progressed at the same rate using virtual lessons as they have with traditional lessons, and I have been able to better support them with video recordings and progress tracking.
It seems that however we interact with a tutor, the most important thing to achieve progress is to be inspired on a regular basis and to be accountable for one’s practice in between sessions. The clearer we are about exactly what we should be doing next to progress, the more excited we are about practice. And when you’re excited and having fun with your instrument, you naturally make progress.
So, why did I think virtual Zoom lessons would be inferior?
- I didn’t think I’d be able to see clearly enough to adjust technique
- I thought the time delay would be insufferable!
- I didn’t think we’d be able to play along with music together
- I didn’t think kids would concentrate
- I didn’t think anyone would make any progress!
As it turns out, I was wrong on every count! All those things were possible. Sure, there were a few connection hiccups along the way, but with even a half-decent internet connection, the video and sound quality are perfectly adequate for online drum lessons.
What are the Advantages of Virtual Lessons?
So immediately after I realised all the downsides were non-issues, I started to realise that there were several upsides to virtual lessons, some of which I could never have foreseen.
Firstly, my students were very happy to be able continue. Lockdown was a lonely time for some and we all had lots of free time, it was important to maintain some semblance or normality and the release of playing the drums is an instant mood-lifter.
Subtler things also came to light: there were no travel times or parking fees. My students and I simply switched on at the same time and we were ready to go.
To support learning, I started to create videos of the things we were practicing. This met with great approval, not only did it serve as reminder of what to practice between sessions, but it meant they could play along with the video over and over until they got it right.
I started to up my game with student progress tracking, taking extra care to keep track of where every was and thinking about what they should be studying next.
In about two weeks, I went from thinking I’d never offer virtual lessons, to realising that they at least equal in effectiveness for supporting and nurturing a students development.
Virtual Drum Lessons
Virtual drum lessons are a great way to access high-quality musical tuition from the comfort of your own home. All you need are a tablet or laptop and a pair of headphones. Virtual drum lessons differ from subscription services and YouTube tuition videos because you are actually in touch with a tutor who provides a personalised learning experience with tailored material to help you progress swiftly. A tutor can be viewed as a navigator; there is plenty of information out there but without guidance it can be disjointed and overwhelming. Consulting with someone who has already walked a similar path saves you time and keeps you sane when things get a bit tricky.
How to Organise a Virtual Drum Lesson
By now you might be curious to try a virtual drum lesson for yourself. To see if this way of learning is right for you, I offer a free no-obligation 15 minute consultation for new students. We use the time to optimise the setup for learning, discuss what you’d like to learn and your goals and to get to know each other. I’m always happy to answer questions and of course, if you’d prefer not to continue with formal lessons, there is no obligation. It’s completely free. To book your consultation, or to ask me a question, head on over to the Contact page.
What Do I Need to Get Started?
I’ve written a post about how to get set up with Virtual Lessons. It varies depending on whether you’re using an acoustic or an electronic drum kit. Have a read here: How to Configure Zoom for Virtual Drum Lessons. If you have any further questions, please let me know.
What’s the Setup?
Lessons are organised at your convenience after an initial free consultation and setup session using video conferencing platform Zoom. It is very easy to use, we agree to meet in a virtual meeting room at an agreed time, we set up the webcam so we can see one another and the microphone so we can hear each other and we’re good to go. I use a high quality camera for streaming so you can clearly see what I am doing. I also feed the audio from my electronic drums and accompanying voice microphone directly into the computer so the audio signal is clear and strong.
Position your camera in a way to show as much of the kit and yourself as possible. An external webcam can be useful if you have one so you can place the screen in a comfortable place to see me and still get a good camera angle.
Ready to book a free consultation and setup session? Send me a message via the contact page and we can start our learning journey together.