During COVID-19, teachers have quietly stepped up to the biggest challenge of their careers. With only a week or two of notice, they’ve had to adapt their lesson plans and deliver them by distance, learn how to use many new online platforms, and field an avalanche of emails from parents all while still meeting curriculum requirements. They are among the quiet heroes of the shutdown.
One group of teachers has had to face an additional set of challenges, these are music teachers. If you’ve ever tried to have a conversation via video call, you’ll know how hard it is to cut in when someone’s talking, it devolves into a mash of voices followed by failed starts and awkward pauses. Now imagine the difficulty a music teacher faces when they must stop a student mid-performance to coach them on technique, it’s impossible. This is just one of the many challenges of teaching music via video call.
For most music teachers, teaching online at short notice was a daunting prospect but they’ve found support from the wider music education industry, where many websites are supporting teachers and students for free during COVID-19.
Free music resources, services and multimedia made available by music education websites are being utilised by music teachers as essential elements of distance learning. This collection ranges from entire online platforms to tools and printable sheets right through to live symphonies from The Met in New York.
Oli Braithwaite is the founder of Stars & Catz, a music education website that has made many free tools and resources available—including a page detailing 83 free online music games.
He had this to say: “We’ve seen traffic to our online tools and resources triple during the worldwide lockdown. We don’t charge anything for these and users don’t need to sign up to use them, we’re just happy to know that teachers and students are getting the support they need at this time.”
Many sectors, including music education, are speculating as to which innovations and adaptations practised during COVID-19 might become part of normal operations long term. After many years of technology enthusiasts calling for modernisation of the delivery of education in general, COVID-19 has forced a type of unplanned experiment and mass upskilling of teachers in digital education. It will be interesting to see, now that adoption has happened, which elements of online and distance education prove valuable enough to keep when in-person education becomes the norm once again.