Learn by Doing Music Caveats and F2F / OE Leveraging via Coaching

Every F2F (Face to Face) music teacher I’ve studied under, or chatted with has mirrored something like the following: Learn by doing seems a reasonable approach to music, but its also dangerous as it can open the door to bad technique which a student wont necessarily know until they hit a brick wall. When students hit said wall, they either plateau at that stage, or have to go back and unlearn things, often with significant difficulty. In addition, learn by doing also runs the risk of ineffective practice habits. Six hours of daily unfocused practice is no where near as helpful as 30 minutes of highly focused activity on the right stuff.

With F2F, student contact is usually limited to scheduled lesson frequency which is for the most part driven by student finances, but also instructor workload. With a weekly contact interval, some students will completely forget what was worked on, or even assigned the prior week… Yep, life happens sometimes, but in other cases, its just that playing / practicing the some cool material one learned a year ago is more fun than achieving proficient with 5-10 new jazz chords.

OE (Online Education) presents an opportunity to address the above factor by using a bi-weekly, or even daily coaching model. In addition, if done with a fair bit of automation, a coaching model could present significant value to the student, with a low workload on the part of the instructor (after one has developed their coaching methodology of course). The upfront workload to develop a online music coaching system will likely be pretty intense… but once developed, the scaling potentials are huge.

As far as how such might play out, consider the following scenario.

  • Student has been assigned piece ABC for the following week.
  • You know that various sections of the piece tend to be trouble areas, and have a tips / tricks sheet already to go.
  • On Day 2, the student gets a communication as to how its going, specifically referring to the trouble areas and/or practice habits.
  • If the student indicates no problems, offer some words of wisdom / encouragement, and perhaps a few more difficult exercises to practice.. If the student indicates problems, send off tips and tricks for the particular section of difficulty, and or practicing tips and tricks.
  • On day 4, check in with student, see if they have run into any other difficulty. If no problem, words of encouragement as above.
  • If difficulty, on day 5, review tips/hints trick with student (the only significant workload) and try to diagnose. if the student expresses no problems, discuss the additional exercises from a couple days ago if applicable.
  • On day seven, F2F lesson is scheduled, you already have an inkling of students trouble areas, student has already tried to address them, and you have a semblance of a diagnostic framework ready to go… This is a lot better than trying to fit diagnosing, dialoging, and offering suggestions for improvement all in the span of a 30 minute lesson. In addition, if life happens during the week, the next lesson can be adjusted to compensate for such, thus avoiding frustration on the part of the student. (Sometimes, its a good idea, just to run over ‘fun” stuff mixed with a tad of instruction in order to bolster motivation etc).

The value the student gets when online coaching is added to F2F lessons has a ton of potential… and for a lot of students will be worth quite a bit more than the nominal fee increases needed to cover the instructors time. In addition, once the instructor has built up their curricula / coaching plan, such a method scales in a huge way unlike 1:1 lessons. Lastly, the dramatic increase in the rate of a students achievements under such a model is likely to serve as a recruiting tool for to reach other students.

Granted, such an approach is not for everyone. Students needs and desires need to be at the forefront and online coaching may not be part of where they want to go… but as an option for others, it could be huge.

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