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The 10 best strategies to motivate your students during online courses

Monday, June 7, 2021

The health crisis has forced music schools around the world to adapt, replacing face-to-face classes with virtual, distance and computer classes.

Teachers have to rethink their programmes and the organisation of each of their sessions, students have to adapt to follow their courses online, timetables are modified… the list of changes they had to do is so long!

Although instruments and sheet music are the foundation of all musical education, it is also important today to know the keys to a successful distance learning course.

Motivation is an important factor in the success of your students and should not be taken lightly. But it is not easy.

If you want to know the secrets of motivating your students online, you have come to the right place!

1. Be clear and communicate to your students how each session will be run

It can be difficult for students to know how to behave during an online course. They switch from being in a classroom with a group of musicians and a live teacher to being alone in a room with a computer.

That’s why it’s important for them to know what they’re going to learn and understand the course of the year.

To do this, you can tell them at the beginning of each session what you have planned for the course, the different exercises you will do and the lessons you will teach them. This way, they will be able to project themselves and invest themselves more easily.

2. Vary the musical experiences and exercises done in class

Distance learning can sometimes seem more difficult to follow. There are more outside temptations, and students are alone in front of the camera.

Even if the lessons are no longer face-to-face, this does not mean that the exercises have to be different. Use your imagination and build different exercises together to motivate them and keep them interested.

Playful activities keep them involved and entertained despite the distance. If you are short of inspiration, here are three ideas for collaborative exercises you can try during your online courses.

There is nothing more motivating than learning while having fun!

3. Give your students responsibility

Making your students active is not just about doing their work in class or their homework. It is also about the different responsibilities you can give them.

For example, you can give each student an assignment at the beginning of the course, such as finding a piece they particularly like and asking them to work on it for the next session.

4. Prioritise team work

Music is an art to be shared. Of course, it is possible to play an instrument on your own, but it is above all meant to be shared and played with the people around you.

You can play on the collective aspect of your teaching. As well as being fun, it can stimulate them and develop their creativity. For example, organise an interpretation or composition competition between your students!

5. Tailor your teaching to the needs of your students

Not all students in a class function in the same way. Some are more interested in practical work and others in quieter exercises such as score reading or sight-reading. That is why you need to pay attention to what motivates them and makes them personally involved in your distance learning courses.

6. Give them achievable goals

Giving your students goals is essential to get them to excel and work hard during the course. However, you should not be too demanding or give them goals that they feel unable to achieve on their own at home, otherwise they will lose motivation and become disengaged.

7. Ask for their feedback on the content and delivery of the course regularly

When you build your online courses, you set up the course beforehand, without your students. It is important to ask them regularly what they think and how it affects their learning to ensure that it is going as you intended.

In addition, it can be difficult for students to really analyse the progress of their distance learning. In this case, monitoring can be very useful, not only for teachers, but also for students. You can use it to motivate students.

8. Take advantage of the tools you have access to

Distance learning requires a reorganisation of your working methods. There are various supports available to make your transition to digital music learning easier.

There are many tools that can help you in your transition to digital learning. Apps such as Newzik allow you to modify your digital scores with colour, audio and video documents, etc., and to store your annotations in a cloud. Many online scores sites (free and paying, put the article on the restrictions) are accessible from your browser and give you access to many usable contents.

It is up to you to find the methods that suit you and to use them to enrich your musical experience!

9. Encourage participation

Participation is the worst kept secret for motivating your students. A motivated student is one who feels involved. If, during your lesson, you involve your students by asking them questions, by making them think aloud, you can be sure that they will follow the lesson from beginning to end. On the other hand, a lecture in which a student is not questioned and is only there to listen will have the opposite effect. The student will not feel involved and will find it difficult to stay on task.

10. Encourage your students

Encourage them to progress and show them that you are there for them if they need it. Make yourself available to answer their questions, and be available by email.

You now have all the keys in hand to make your distance learning courses!

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Margaux Desprez

Content & Communication Manager