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Best free tools for online music teaching

Monday, March 23, 2020

“We started thinking about this out of necessity”, the director of a conservatory tells me this morning.

The necessity to use digital tools to try and maintain the connection between teachers and students is now more apparent than ever, in this context of sudden and unplanned shutdown of this kind of institution for an unknown duration. And, unfortunately, all conservatories and music schools are not equal…

Some of them had already taken the plunge and made the transition to digital scores, allowing them to find solutions such as internal networks or using iPads. Many others, however, are not there yet, and now find themselves in urgent need of intuitive solutions to set up an effective strategy for online teaching.

In these harsh times, our first reaction was to bring our whole team together to come up with solutions and support.

After several conversations with different people affected by this situation, we realized we could also help by sharing the communication tools we use every day as a company. These tools have been tried and tested for several years and are currently in full use, since we are now all forced to work from home.

Here is a non-comprehensive list of the tools that could change your professional life, just like they changed ours.

Work with collaborative sheet music

collaborative sheet music Use layers inside Projects in Newzik to share your markings with your students.

Let’s start by telling you about the Newzik App, which we built to allow musicians to collaborate remotely around sheet music. What’s more, each annotation made on any given device will be shared with all of the other members’ devices!

The App is available on iPad and iPhone and allows users to import PDF and MusicXML files. It is possible to add Youtube videos, audio files and more to your scores and share them with as many musicians as you wish.

The cherry on the cake: by opening Zoom.us from your iPad and then using Newzik, all your students will be able to see you live-marking and playing your digital scores!

Store your resources on an online Drive

collaborative sheet music Newzik recommends Google Drive for sharing folders and files.

At Newzik, all of our documents are stored on Google Drive.

Once your files and folders have been uploaded, it is possible to access them online but also locally on one’s computer thanks to Google File Stream. One of the great advantages of this is that you can collaborate on Word, Excel or Powerpoint documents without the need of a Microsoft license installed on your own computer.

The first 15 GB of storage are free. This will allow you to start experimenting at no cost.

Manage and motivate students in between lessons

collaborative sheet music With Tonara Studio, teachers, like yourself, can easily manage their music studio and motivate their students to practice more in between lessons.

You can access the mobile or web-based platform where you can add students, create lessons, send assignments, track your students’ practice progress, and chat with students for extra support and encouragement. This is all made easy with features like the Activity Dashboard, Assignment Repertoire, Media Library, and more.

On the other hand, students experience more fun and engaging practice sessions, which leads to more practice time and faster improvements in their musical journey. Students are able to earn points from their practice sessions and climb the leaderboard, collect stickers as they complete more assignments, and receive real-time feedback on their playing.

The platform truly lets you manage all the details before, during, and after lessons with your students, so you can stay more organized and help your students even more! It’s a win-win-win solution for teachers, parents, and students!

Tonara Studio is free for students and offers a 30 day free trial for teachers. Once the trial is over, the teacher will need to choose a subscription plan that best first their studio size.

Communicate and share information

collaborative sheet music Use a professional messaging service such as Slack to communicate with your students. Like many other companies and organizations, we communicate internally through the professional messaging service Slack.

One of the main advantages of this service is that it allows one-to-one direct messaging, but also group chats (kind of like WhatsApp) and the integration of notifications and alerts from other software.

There is a free version of Slack that can be used with any device, and also has video and audio call features for groups of up to 15 people!

To try it is to love it.

Teach remotely with videoconferencing

collaborative sheet music The Newzik team uses Zoom.us for daily meetings.

Here is the most important point of this article: our daily use of Zoom.us, a videoconferencing software, accessible with a simple click from any device or operating system.

What convinced us to tell you only about this specific tool (rather than Skype or other solutions) is its simplicity, stability as well as audio and video quality.

This software program is free for up to 40-minute conversations and will enable you to communicate with your student(s) and give them real-time feedback on their practice. We must point out that latency is unfortunately inevitable, and it will not be possible to play or sing together in real time using videoconferencing.

Trust us: we tried, and we probably shouldn’t have…

Create collaborative work programs

collaborative sheet music Manage your class programs and stay organized with Trello.

We strongly recommend Trello, a free online and/or desktop tool that enables users to create collaborative boards and to-do lists and to share them with students and/or fellow teachers.

We already use Trello to keep track of the progression of our projects by dragging “cards” from the “To Do” column to “Doing” and finally to “Done”. The members of a board can comment and add all kinds of documents, in a simple and interactive interface.

We sincerely hope that these resources will be helpful. We remain available by email at contact@newzik.com to answer any questions you may have.


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AUTHOR

Aurélia Azoulay-Guetta

Co-Founder & CEO

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