Best free tools for online music teaching


by Aurélia Azoulay-Guetta, Co-Founder

“We started thinking about this out of necessity”

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.

First, we decided to give free access to the Newzik app to all music teachers who wish to use it to manage, mark and share sheet music and media resources with their students. This offer was warmly welcomed by teachers in France and around the world, and we are glad we can help a little. We will maintain this offer until June 30th and will also conduct video training sessions for all those who need to quickly get acquainted with Newzik products.

Then, 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.

1/ Work with 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!

The App is free for up to 15 imported files. If you are a music teacher, you can get a Premium access for free until June 30th, so seize the opportunity!



2/ Store your resources on an online Drive

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.

 

3/ Communicate and share information

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.

4/ Teach remotely with videoconferencing

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…

5/ Create collaborative work programs

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 phone or email to answer any questions you may have.

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