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  • Writer's pictureElisabeth Hope

7 Ways to Get the Most Benefit from Online Lessons

You've prepared for a productive online lesson. You've logged on and the teacher has appeared. Now it's time for the lesson to begin! One of the challenges of Suzuki lessons during the pandemic is simply the screen. The interactions between parent, student, and teacher feel different when one of them is separated by a screen and heard through a speaker. How can you help your student get the most benefit from their online lessons?

  1. As the Wise Old Suzuki Saying goes, “One teacher at a time.” A student who is receiving instruction from multiple people at once gets easily overwhelmed and frustrated. You work with your student all week and are used to being the responsible adult during practice sessions. Once the lesson starts, it’s time to sit back and follow the teacher’s lead. Correct the student’s posture if requested by the teacher, but avoid instructing your child while the teacher is asking the student to focus on something else. Teachers see much more than we mention during the lesson! We’re constantly strategizing our approach to correcting any issues that we see, in an order that works physically, musically, and emotionally for the student. By helping the student focus on one thing at a time, parents and teachers can nurture a positive environment which allows that student to succeed.

  2. Be patient. Wait for a break in the flow to ask about issues that you see. If the student doesn’t know the answer to a question, don’t jump in to rescue them! This gives the student time to think, and it allows space for the teacher to re-phrase or lead the student to the answer. Even though it might seem like it delays the progress of the lesson, remember that the teacher is trying to help the student learn and discover answers in a way that the student will be able to remember.

  3. Take great notes. Sometimes during my girls’ lessons, it is tempting to think, I’ll remember that. But if I don’t write it down, there’s a chance we’ll be caught off guard when the teacher asks for it next time. Note taking helps you to remember your student’s assignments and the specific elements of focus that week. Even more importantly, it helps you to model good note-taking for your student. What a life skill for their future advanced lessons and even beyond to college and the work place!

  4. Take a video of specific things the teacher models. One huge advantage of online lessons is the ease of taking a video! If you’re using Zoom on a laptop or iPad, ask your teacher to give you permission to record. They can make a step-by-step practice video or demonstrate exactly what they want, which you can use throughout your practice week. They could even make a play-along practice video (did you know Dr. Suzuki used to create "practice with me" cassette tapes for his students?)

  5. Be fully present. It is so tempting to take the lesson time as time “off,” especially if you’re trying to work from home and oversee your student’s virtual schooling. Please resist that urge and show complete attention during their lesson. Put away your phone, in a different room if needed. Show your student that this is not just something to check off your to-do list for the day, but that it is something that you truly value.

  6. Be aware of your facial expressions! Smile at your student to show them that you enjoy spending this time with them. If you’re observing closely, you may be surprised at how many times your student sends you a quick glance to see your reaction during the lesson. Make sure your face reflects the beautiful love and joy you take in spending this time with your student!

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