Since the pandemic, the Northern Conservatory of Music made the switch to the platform of online lessons. Predominantly we used Zoom, save for those cases that were absolutely committed to using other tools. Most of that went just fine too. Our local business adapted and survived. Make no mistake these were terrifying times with 85% of clients suspending service in March of 2020. But we were also uniquely equipped to survive this because of other projects.
What we learned as a school and service was that there was now an opportunity to provide remote communities with a level of choice, teaching and instruction not seen before. We had long held a separate nationwide company that provided an in-home and in-studio service nationwide and there were lessons to be learned there too.
It is no secret that generally the most talented and competent teachers and musicians have long resided in urban centres. This is just to be close to the opportunities for performance and teaching that are present in these centres. With the advent of the pandemic and the Zoom revolution, we realized that now more teachers could offer more services to more locations. Teachers in Vancouver for example could enlarge their studios by teaching in the formerly dead zone of 1:00 to 4:00 PM. People who wanted an oboe teacher in Temiskaming Shores (basically impossible) or a tuba teacher in Dryden (pretty unlikely) could now have service and even a choice of teachers.
With the waning of the pandemic, we expected a great shuffle as people returned to in-person lessons. It didn’t happen and it hasn’t happened we feel for a variety of positive reasons.
Reason #1 - The Fact That Zoom Lessons Offer a High-Quality Experience
Zoom lessons actually work very well and with a minimum of technology. The minimal amount of difference is minimal compared to the benefits. There are even benefits to online in a 1-on-1 format which are explained further on. It may take some time to perfect the use of and adapt to the technology. Zoom is somewhat unique in offering a platform that has a high fidelity audio setting and another feature called original sound that are more or less expressly for music lessons. But after a month, both teacher and student should have learned the pitfalls and the skills needed. Headphones are a great idea.
Reason #2 - The Nearly Unlimited Choices of Teachers & Instruments
Zoom lessons give parents and students a broad choice of teachers. Finding an oboe teacher in Hearst Ontario represents a challenge. Learning the piano doesn’t remain the domain of whoever happens to live down the road. NCM for example has 14 piano teachers to choose from. Remote residents no longer have to accept sacrificing the quality of these services for themselves and their families as a part of the remote lifestyle. Also, during the pandemic, many excellent musicians and teachers left the cities and now offer their services online lowering their expenses and increasing their standard of living. So there is much love for online learning on both sides of this equation. Reason #3 - The Pedagogical & Instructional Concentration Benefits
Zoom lessons give parents and students a broad choice of teachers. Finding an oboe teacher in Hearst Ontario represents a challenge. Learning the piano doesn’t remain the domain of whoever happens to live down the road. NCM for example has 14 piano teachers to choose from. Remote residents no longer have to accept sacrificing the quality of these services for themselves and their families as a part of the remote lifestyle. Also, during the pandemic, many excellent musicians and teachers left the cities and now offer their services online lowering their expenses and increasing their standard of living. So there is much love for online learning on both sides of this equation. Reason #4 - The Economic, Time Management & Environmental Benefits
The economy of online versus in-person lessons is a great thing for the online student. If we all drive 15 to 30 minutes to a music lesson every week the expense of fuel and time adds up. In remote areas, it can add up to a lot. It's better for the environment, it's better for kids with charged schedules and it's better for parents. In a sense, everyone that doesn’t want to get in the car for 2-4 hours a month minimum might now consider themselves remote. Reason #5 - The Emergence of Hybrid Arrangements for Lessons
We have also seen the emergence of hybrid arrangements. In these arrangements, students take the majority of lessons online and visit the teacher in a larger centre as their schedule allows. So a person could reside in Huntsville or New Liskeard but they might see their teacher in person on the occasions they visit Toronto or Ottawa. This approach brings a little of the best of both worlds to more remote communities.
There are of course arguments to be made that online learning is ineffective in many applications. Lessons for the very young for example would be one such argument easy to make. However, we have found that as long as the parent is also willing to become a student these barriers can also be overcome. As a parent, I will make no arguments for the continuation of online kindergarten in future, although it did establish a connection and it was very short as well as sometimes hilarious. My kudos and congratulations to the teachers that accepted this challenge of group instruction online.
We do not know what the future holds at this point in terms of how the pandemic will continue to affect services. For remote communities perhaps this is less of a factor but that which is online or partly online will have more adaptability to going online.
If you are interested in setting up an online music teacher for yourself or your family NCM has 26 teachers ready to serve you and access to hundreds more. We can find exactly what you need to meet your needs. We look forward to serving you with online instruction and the very best our country has to offer. Cheers, The Northern Conservatory of Music