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Virtual and in Person Music Lessons

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Virtual and in person music lessons: How to adapt your lessons for virtual and/or in person learning, to save time and engage your students!

Do you have to teach both virtually and in person? Wondering how to present the same lesson in both formats? In this blog post, I’ll discuss how to adapt lessons for virtual and in person, and how to offer extensions to a lesson, if you have to offer extra practice for an in-person lesson.

Length of lessons

First, let’s discuss length.

If you are teaching virtually, or have to present some virtual options, I suggest decreasing the length. My in-person lessons are 50 minutes each, for grades 1-5…but having students sit in front of their devices for that long would be rather taxing, especially with all of the other work they’ve been given!

I like to decrease my virtual lessons by about half.  This may seem like a lot, but when you consider that for virtual lessons, they don’t have lots of other students in the room distracting them, and can stay more focused on the lesson, then you can fit a lot into half the amount of time!

Find or create videos you can use in either lesson

If you are in person, you may not be able to sing with students. If not, then a good alternative would be to record yourself singing, so that students still hear the song, but you’re not spreading aerosols by singing in front of them. A bonus to creating these videos is that you can use them for in-person or virtual lessons!

For example, if you record yourself singing “Apple Tree,” then you could show the video in person, and send the video to your virtual students. You could also find great teaching videos and use them both in person or virtually. For example, I love this video for practicing sol and mi. 

If students are in person, and they can’t sing aloud, you could have them hum or sing inside their heads. If virtual, students could sing to their heart’s content!

Lessons in Google Slides

Whether you are in person or virtual, Google Slides can be a wonderful way to deliver lessons. Like I mentioned above, you could pre-record some videos, then insert them into Google Slides. I use these templates, which you can download for free:

If you are in person, you can present live. If you are virtual, you can send students the link to Google Drive, or embed it into a Learning Management System (LMS) like Google Classroom or Schoology. Here’s a trick for sending Google Slides: once you click “share,” change the last part of the link (after the last slash) to “present.” If you do that, the slides will show up in present mode automatically!

HyperDocs

I began using HyperDocs more this past year, before COVID-19. I absolutely love them for free exploration around a specific topic. In this blog post, I have links to several different HyperDocs that could work for in-person or virtual learning. When I was using it for in-person learning, I would teach half of the lesson as active music making, and the second half of the lesson as free time to explore HyperDocs.

In a virtual lesson, you could have half of the lesson be direct instruction, like videos, Google Slides, etc., and then the second half of the lesson be time to explore on a HyperDoc. You could even add a link to a Google form within the HyperDoc, so that students could let you know what they completed on the HyperDoc, what they enjoyed the most, etc.

Topics for HyperDocs could be just about anything: instruments of the orchestra, moods in music, composer of the month, genres of music, theme and variations, musical symbols, etc. The sky is the limit!

Virtual Music Classrooms

Virtual music classrooms have been all the rage lately; to read more about them, check out this blog post, or check out this helpful webinar from Katie Wardrobe. These could be a great way to deliver a lesson, or to offer students chances to explore different websites, activities, etc. With both in person or virtual lessons, you could simply ask students to explore the classroom, and find all of the activities, or find a specific amount of activities to explore.

Here is an example of one of my virtual music classrooms, which I've added my Bitmoji to, with the Bitmoji Chrome extension

When students click the piano, it takes them to Piano Roll in Chrome Music Lab. When they click the ball, they are taken to a video of me teaching them “Bounce High.” When they click the “Places you'll go” bulletin board, they are taken to this lesson in Edpuzzle, in which they watch a video and then answer questions throughout.  Lastly, when they click the quarter rest on the board, they are taken to this fun set of Boom cards to practice quarter rest, from Sillyomusic!

The next time I do a virtual music classroom with second grade (which could be several lessons after I assign this one), some of the visuals might be different. For example, instead of a ball on the floor linking to “Bounce High,” there might be an apple on a table, which links to “Apple Tree.” If we are practicing sol, mi, and la, I could link to a game or activity to practice that from the white board. It's super easy to change and adapt for different grade levels and concepts!

Looking for lessons that could work in both an in-person or virtual setting? Check out these sets:

I hope this is helpful to you, as you consider how to present lessons in a variety of ways. Happy planning, and happy teaching!

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