Since I began teaching lessons many years ago, I have noticed more often students seem to have smartphones, tablets, and computers.
In fact, they seem to be getting them at younger and younger ages. These students often have a natural inclination towards technology in general.
The use of devices can be quite beneficial, especially when harnessed toward achieving a musical end.
If you are technologically inclined, you may find this article helpful in determining what sort of device to bring to lessons and how to take advantage of what students may already own. Here is a list of some popular devices.
1. Smart Phones
Since most students own phones, you might as well take advantage of this by having them download apps that will help enhance their musicality and sense of discipline. If you are trying to encourage students to stay at their instruments long enough, a solid timer application is a good place to start.
My personal favorite is the metronome app. As you are probably aware, metronomes are very helpful in empowering students to master their material and develop a strong sense of pulse. With smartphones, they never have to be without one.
Another great smartphone feature is high-quality audio and video recordings. Sometimes, the most helpful way to teach a concept is to have the students listen or view themselves.
2. Tablets and 2-in-1 Hybrid Computers
Tablets and 2-in-1 devices (computers with foldable or attachable keyboards) can do many of the same things as smartphones, but they are also are fantastic tools for media consumption and even viewing sheet music.
(Piano teachers love the opportunity to gain unlimited access to our sheet music library and pull up our sheet music and resources on their iPad regularly for their students. Click here to learn more.)
They work well in lessons especially if you are limited on space or don’t have a place to set things down (they can simply rest on the music rack).
Tablets are great for writing out musical notation and can function as portable, digital whiteboards. Who wouldn’t find that useful? Having reliable access to this convenience can really change how you teach subjects like music theory and even basic note reading.
These devices also work well to facilitate online lessons for both students and teachers. While not as convenient as laptops for this purpose (they require a special type of stand or mount), they often have better cameras and microphones. High-end tablets can really offer the best online lesson experience possible.
Last but not least, tablets are the superior choice for viewing and categorizing sheet music. Older students working on many individual pieces will certainly appreciate the convenience of storing their music digitally.
Applications designed for this purpose include ForScore for Mac and MobileSheets for Windows. This has really revolutionized my own practice, performance, and teaching and there is plenty to share on the subject.
3. Laptop Computers
For teachers, laptops are very helpful for managing a variety of tasks. Laptops with slim minimalist designs work very well in lessons for the purposes of note-taking and of viewing videos or listening to music selections.
This is in addition to the standard sort of things like organization, administrative tasks, and book keeping.
For those considering online lessons, laptops are the most convenient choice for students and teachers, because the screen (and camera) can be directed to view an instrument without any special hardware or mounts.
With a keyboard instrument, you may need to rest the laptop on an elevated surface.
Laptops tend to have the biggest screens while still remaining portable. Latest laptops feature touch screens that can accomplish many of the same things as tablets. This makes the laptop computer a safe choice if you are looking for one device to do it all.
4. Online Assignment Applications
One advantage of having your own tablet or laptop in the lesson is that you can take notes and manage assignments for students online rather than in a written notebook.
This comes with several advantages:
- You can probably type faster than you can write.
- While students may lose their assignment journals from time to time, you will always have access to the assignments.
- You can manage assignments from home.
- Videos and other media can be added as links into the assignments for students to experience.
- You can leave notes for yourself and plan upcoming tasks.
- Persistent documents eliminate the need to rewrite things.
- You can more easily transition between in person and online lessons.
Students only require access to a special link that you can provide them.
Before I wrap up, I wanted to mention one other thing. While I believe incorporating these things in the lesson can offer a better experience, it can also distract you and the student from the central purpose of lessons. You must know your stuff when it comes to managing these things in the lesson. I recommend focusing on one device or application at a time so that you aren’t overwhelmed on the job. Just as with music, practice makes perfect.
Now that I have been teaching for a while, I am at the point where I can use all of these devices effectively. My device of choice for lessons is the iPad Pro with the larger screen and attachable keyboard.
I use metronome applications, view sheet music, make recordings, show videos, store lesson assignments online, and even teach piano lessons over the internet. My overall experience with this has been excellent.