As governors across the country monitor their states criteria for re-opening businesses and other organizations, children’s music studio owners should be developing a plan for how and when they will resume their in-person classes in a safe and responsible manner. Many childhood music classes have not ceased with the shutdown of their physical studios, and have taken advantage of technology to hold virtual classes online. Even though online classes do provide a continuation of curriculum for students, home activities for parents, and continued revenue for the business, many teachers are understandably looking forward to when they can see their parents and students in person again. Here are some thoughts and ideas on what to consider looking forward:
- Remember who ultimately decides when your
business reopens – While
politicians can announce or declare the economy reopen, they cannot force a
music studio to reopen if the owner does not feel that it is a good choice for
their staff or customers. But ultimately, its neither politicians nor business
owners who decide when the economy is reopen. It is the decision of the
consumer. If the population does not feel that it is safe to patronize
businesses, then as living in a free market society, they will “decide with
their pocketbooks.” Parents are particularly careful when it comes to their
children’s well-being, and you can bet that they will not take unnecessary
- Communication and a good plan is the key – Children’s music studio owners understand that communication with parents is the key to running a successful curriculum and business. As parents start to become more comfortable with the overall safety outlook, they will next want to see what a studio is specifically doing to keep their children safe. A written plan shared with parents about intentions of how and when to reopen for in-person classes nurtures that important customer relationship and reinforces trust. This written plan may include conducting only outdoor classes for a period of time, social distancing procedures, and/or processes for keeping studio and instruments clean.
- Have a contingency plan in place – No one wants Covid-19 to have a resurgence in our communities, but in the event that does happen, it’s important that you have a plan in place for your music studio to quickly and efficiently deal with it. Contingency plans help to put consumers, business owners, and employees’ minds at ease so that a situation does not quickly go into crisis management mode. Finally, remember that a good contingency plan can be applied to a wide variety of unexpected situations, so write it so that it can be quickly applied to almost any unexpected situation. As some studio owners have already shown, continuing business through virtual classes may be part of that plan.
advocating when or exactly how children’s music studio owners should reopen
their particular business, these tools and techniques are provided to help
determine the best and safest way to help keep your business open through
unprecedented times. By understanding the official guidelines, understanding
and communicating with your customers, and finally contingency planning
makes the next unexpected crisis a bit easier to manage.
For many teachers across the country and the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has required that they embrace technology in a way like never before. Whether they were already tech-savvy or tech averse, teaching virtually has become a necessary reality for educators. This is no exception for many children’s music teachers and music studio owners. While many of the hurdles are the same for all teachers, virtual children’s music instruction poses its own set of challenges to studio owners. Here are a few tips to help you and your students/parents get the most out of your virtual music class:
- Explore your virtual learning technology – There are various ways to produce a virtual learning class, and which one you select is more up to your taste and comfort level than one “best” solution. The two most popular formats are live or pre-recorded. Live technologies offer teachers a more interactive solution with their students and or parents, while pre-recorded allows more production options for those who want a more polished output. Virtual live classes can also be recorded for future use. Keep in mind that there are hundreds of software and app solutions available out there for virtual teaching, both paid and free. A search on Google will give you a myriad of choices, so think about what is going to be easiest and best fits your needs. More importantly, however, is to keep in mind what technology your students will have available to participate. If you already have a children’s music curriculum, then you may not need the features offered by many of the available solutions. If you have already been teaching children’s music in a classroom setting, then all you may need is a digital camera and a way to serve your videos such as YouTube.
- Don’t worry about being perfect, just jump in! Once you have chosen a technology to serve your virtual classes, start teaching! Everyone understands that this is a challenge for teachers, so don’t be afraid to dive in and learn alongside your parents and kids. You know that one of the best ways to learn is by doing, and you will find that each and every class will be better than the last as you absorb both the technology and how to leverage it to mimic your desired classroom environment. Keep in mind while it’s never going to be perfect, video and audio quality are important for a music class. However, most newer smart phones, tablets, and laptops have decent video and audio output.
- With younger children, keep in mind that its music AND movement – In many virtual classes, all that you will see is a “talking head” and perhaps some screen shots of notes and diagrams.In children’s music classes, movement is very important. Therefore, be sure that your screen frame shows your entire body so that you can demonstrate the movements while you teach. Imagine that your audience is in a live class with you, and what you do and would like for them to see and hear. Usually this requires that the camera is set back far enough to show your entire body in the screen, with enough space on all sides to allow room for movement.
and interact with your entire audience – Whether
you areperforming a live virtual
class or recording a video, be sure to address the camera just as it was your
students. Offer encouragement before, after, and during your activities.
Imagine you are in your live, in-person class, complete with asking questions
and call and response activities, leaving time after each for your audience to
respond at home. Lastly, if parents are involved in the class, don’t forget to provide
helpful instruction and encouragement to them as well.
While pivoting from a live classroom environment to a virtual online environment may be scary, keep in mind that great teaching skills will serve you well online. Everything you already know will still be with you in a virtual world, so have confidence that you can do this! Lots of children’s music teachers and studio owners who were not previously offering online classes are now doing so. Watch how they have overcome the technical challenges and apply that knowledge to your own production. Remember that they were once as apprehensive as you may be now, so you will become ever more comfortable as you go along.