• Elisabeth Hope

Preparing for Productive Online Lessons

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many music lessons have moved online. It’s wonderful to be able to continue our lessons, which would have been impossible a decade or two ago! But even with technology that allows us to have real-time video lessons, online lessons bring a different set of challenges than those we encounter in person. So what can a parent do to help their student prepare for great lessons?


  • Give your student adequate warning to prepare physically and mentally for their lesson. In normal times, most of us have a commute to the lesson, which helps the students get into the frame of mind for their lesson. While it’s tempting to work on something else until the very minute that we need to sign on for the lesson, remember that your students need time to transition from their previous activity to their lesson time. My kids need time to detach from their previous activity and get into the violin mindset, a snack, and time to use the bathroom and wash hands before the lesson, so our pre-lesson ritual is almost as long as our commute to lessons used to be.

  • Prepare the violin before the lesson. This seems so basic, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of lesson time that I end up spending on tuning instruments. Make sure that the instrument is in tune, the bow has rosin, and that you’ve gathered all the necessary books and materials.

  • Prepare the lesson space. Eliminate distractions from the lesson and practice space. Make sure the music stand is set up and that the teacher can see the student from a good angle. I like my students to position their webcam just above eye level if possible, with their music stand just to the left of their screen, showing the student from the waist-up, so that I can observe their violin position and see both hands.

  • Practice open communication with the teacher. Even the most observant teacher feels limited in what we can pick up over a screen. We may miss some of the nonverbal communication that we rely on in person, such as body language, subtle facial expressions, etc. Please keep your communication open with the teacher so that we know how the student is feeling and how the practice week has gone for them. A pandemic brings a lot of stresses to parents and students alike, and these emotions and pressures can affect interactions during the lesson. Sometimes a struggle during the lesson is about the violin and sometimes it’s not. Let us know what’s going on and how we can help.

  • Encourage the child! Practice noticing the good things that you see and sharing those observations with your student and their teacher. You student wants to know that you see their hard work and the positive things they’re doing, not just reminding them of mistakes! Find a way to be on the same team as the student and celebrate their progress.

All prepared for a great lesson? Check out the next post: "7 Ways to Get the Most Benefit from Online Lessons"

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