ready to go past playing prescribed parts?

Teaching on Skype to Leverage Your Expertise & Make an Impact

Teaching online myself for over 12 years, I can tell you the two MOST IMPORTANT things about moving your studio online:

  1. Use whatever software works for you Don’t want to fuss with Skype? You don’t need to. Use Facebook messenger (video chat). It’s easiest. Zoom works too. And Facetime. You can teach over a phone call.
  2. Just do it. Get on skype (or FB messenger, et al..) and ask your students to play their stuff for you. Tell them what to do and play for them and you’ll be surprised how easy it is. And how effective. Trust the process and yourself. It will be great you’ll see

What Makes A Great Teacher?

The main things about that make you a great teacher are these three things:

  1. you care about your students
  2. you come to them at their level
  3. you know your stuff

None of this changes with technology

Move Your Studio Online Without Losing Income

One of my clients runs a private teaching studio, he’s married with two kids, and their entire family was moving across the country
How could he avoid losing months worth of income while he tried to get students and freelance gigging work?

What would you tell him?

As his freelancing coach, it was my job to give him a solution.

I told him to simply tell all of his existing students that he was moving, but that he planned to keep teaching them, – on Skype. He retained 80% of his existing students and brought on new students as well.

I know-we imagine all the reasons it couldn’t work. But it totally worked.

Just because we’ve always done something one way doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it.

His studio families couldn’t be happier. In fact, they’re probably getting MORE value from working with him on Skype, which I’ll get to later.

Whether you move across country or not, and whether you’re a classroom or private teacher, there are a few easy ways to leverage technology to improve teaching for the students and the teacher.

The other moral here has to do with solving problems related to your freelance career. If you work for yourself, like this musician I mentioned who does a mix of private teaching and freelance gigging, you may wake up some days wondering how you’re going to get more work or make enough money to survive. You may wonder how to work more with the clients you actually like, or do music you actually like. You may get tired of doing something a certain way, or with certain people, and want to change up. Or you may move to a new city and need to start over.

For most of us, this can create overwhelm, as our minds race in between what goal to pursue and how to offer your services effectively.

The normal approach would be to ask “how” to get new students in a new town. I flipped the goal on its head, changing the “what”, because we all know that it’s easier to keep existing students than get new students.

There is a “HOW” component as well, i.e. how to keep existing students while moving onto Skype.

And this was a question asked to me by a reader in Chicago who was not moving, i.e., “How do I move my existing private students to Skype?”. It’s actually his question that prompted me to write this.

The short answer is this: Just do it. You don’t have to ask permission. It’s your studio and you get to define the terms and ways in which you work. And you can make it great for your students
Students work with you because you care enough to show up for them and do your best.

That won’t change if you use Skype.

Don’t ask permission. Trust the process, be confident, and let them know that you’re committed to making it work.

If you’re not sure, take a Skype lesson with another teacher who’s accustomed to make it work, and you can observe your own experience as a student during the lesson. There are a few small things anyone can do to make Skype lessons effective. I even offer a free skype lesson to anyone who signs up the first time to my home study course, so you could try it with me and see all the ays I flip the classroom to make education more efficient here.

The long answer brings us back to the first moral, i.e., why this is important for teachers.

Private teachers as well as Classroom teachers can improve retention, assessment, accountability, and more, while saving tons of time. Here are specific benefits of using skype and/or video exchange:

SKYPE for Private lessons saves time, commuting for the student, parent, and often for the private teacher.

The main drawbacks are that you can’t play simultaneously with your student and you can’t touch them.

But there are ways to minimize and more than make up for these drawbacks:

Backking Tracks

If your students are prepared with backing tracks to play to this can make up for not having you accompany them. In many situations they can perform unaccompanied, but setting them up with a doc telling them how to find and set up backing tracks can help.


For that matter, you can easily prepare a simple FAQ for them with “everything you need to know to prepare for Skype (or Zoom, Facetime, Facebook messenger, or other platforms) lessons with me”. This could include how to become connected, how they can set up an account if needed, whether to use a laptop, headphones, set their audio and video settings, what to expect, etc…

For students under the age of 9, presence of parents may be helpful. Similarly, some seniors may be less accustomed to technology. But again, if you are willing to help get them through it, they will likely be happy to adapt to it.

Leesson Replay

One of the benefits of Skype lessons is the ease with which you can record the lesson through apps such as call recorder. I always send a video recording to my students following the lesson, for added value. You can do this with Zoom as well. Which brings me to a really important suggestion:

Video Exchange

I offer all my students the opportunity to send me videos as progress reports on their work. This increases retention, assessment, and accountability.

Teachersyou could assign your students to make a video and send you a link, to verify that they practiced by mid week, or every day if you want. Classroom teachers can assess students this way.

Teach to One, Repurpose for Many

When you make a video of yourself teaching a specific sequence to a student, you can repurpose this video for all your students. To increase the effectiveness of a lesson, you can send students the video prior to the lesson. They watch the video prior to meeting you, and when they meet you, you help them work on it. This is known as “flipping” the classroom.

To decide on content to make, answer the question or problem of one student. Then, do it many times over, and you will have a library of your best teaching videos, teaching all the challenges, in your way. This library can be given to your students ahead of the lesson, making the lesson more effective. You can charge a subscription to the library, or you can simply give it as added value. You can release some of these videos in your library on youtube as a way to promote and recruit more students.

This is great for working with a clinician in a residency as well. The residencies I do all offer online support before and after to support the event. And for classroom teachers, bringing me in is a good way to see how to incorporate these ideas.

You can bet that I feel really good about having the right answer for my friend and client, and knowing that he might not have found it without my support.

We all can benefit from support, and there are various ways to get it. If you’re interested in growing your business this year, or just want help weathering the storm, learn more about my support group here.

For more on how you can Use Video to improve your teaching and/or marketing, see the article, video, and podcast below:

How to Use Video to Improve your Teaching & Marketing

I’ve taught online for 12 years. Get my Best Actionable advice for FLiiping the CLassroom here:

How to Actually Teach Online.

Classroom orchestra teachers: Use my FREE YOUTUBE PLAYLIST to provide Done For You Lessons to your students in grade 4-12 here:

Done For You Orchestra Lessons

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