I miss my students. I also have concerns about being back at school with hundreds of students in a pandemic. It’s easy to get pulled down right now, so today I am focusing on the positive.

If you are disappointed that you have to try to teach music through a computer, come back to this list and see what you can really take advantage of. (If you are returning to the classroom, pop over to this post.)

  1. I had a chance to really see and hear each student as an individual musician.
  2. I had more space to give meaningful, personal feedback. Because I was using Seesaw, I could record myself speaking to the children, and they could record themselves responding back to me. I had some really interesting discussions with my students, and I found it was still quite effective when I wanted to support them in shifting their thinking, or improving their singing, or looking at something a different way.
  3. I saved my voice because I didn’t have to repeat myself or talk over students/instruments. Teaching without anyone telling me that their birthday was coming up was kind of refreshing!
  4. It was much easier to offer choice. I didn’t have to set up the equipment, students didn’t have to compete for aural “space”, and time wasn’t an issue. I was able to offer a wider variety of options for how students interacted with a lesson, practiced their skills, and showed their learning. See some ideas for Early Childhood classes here, or Upper Elementary here.
  5. In a similar vein, differentiation was much easier. Not only could I post a choice board where students could approach the learning in their own way, but with Seesaw it was actually very easy to post different lessons and engagements for different students.
  1. It’s a time-saver: Once I’d recorded a lesson, I could use that for all my classes in that grade level. Sometimes I did lessons on fundamentals that I could use for two grade levels, like both my PreK and Kindergarten classes.
  2. It’s a future time-saver: Now I have a folder full of lessons that I can leave for a sub. That means I don’t have to sit at my computer for two hours writing lesson plans when I should be lying in bed getting better.
  3. Students can work at their own pace, rewatch lessons, and are not restricted by the class time or the logistics of being in class with 20 other students.
  4. I got to see what students are interested in, and what they engage with at home.
  5. On top of that, I got to learn about their home lives. Some students posted videos of themselves making music with family members. It was clear where some of my students picked up their perspectives on music, or their interests. I found it really fascinating to see my kids interacting with parents and see the influence at home.
  6. Parents were able to see what we do in music class. I had comments from several parents that they had NO IDEA how much great stuff we do. How many of your parents think that music class still looks the way it did when they were kids??
Online learning opened up more realistic opportunities for #differentiation and #agency. Students were more motivated because the learning engagements were more in their control. #musicedchat #remotelearning #pypmusic Share on X
  1. My highly social (easily distractible) students were able to focus on their work so much better.
  2. Everything the students turned in was documented digitally, and in one place. That sure helped a lot at report-writing time!
  3. Students who wanted/needed more interaction were able to get it when it *in the moment*, when they were working on the assignment, and then had time to think it over and apply it in their own time.
  4. I was able to show the students my own music space at home. I played some of my instruments for them, which they loved, and they were inspired to show me what musical things they had in their homes.
  5. Maybe it’s just me, but I sure appreciated having the opportunity to re-record if I messed up what I was trying to say! The downside of this is that I can be a perfectionist sometimes, so in the first weeks I kept starting over. But by the third or fourth week I was allowing myself a little more wiggle room.
  6. Students weren’t getting in each other’s way. They didn’t have to wait for their turn, and there were no classroom management issues due to students distracting one another.
  7. The thing that thrilled me the most during our time learning online was those students who are shy in class really opening up with their singing, playing, or creativity! Students who barely made eye contact in class were suddenly singing, dancing, paying pieces from their lessons, even playing their own compositions for me! I have a student with selective mutism who never makes a peep in class. She sent me videos of herself singing and dancing, improvising, and explaining what she heard. The way some students really came out of the woodwork was inspiring. When students were in their own environment, chose for themselves what to share, and didn’t have to be worried about the judgement of their peers, some of them were like a whole different person. It was beautiful. 
Online learning allowed my shy students to come out of their shells! With no other eyes on them, the pressure and self-consciousness was lifted, and they sang, improvised, and performed with confidence that I'd never seen in them… Share on X

Whatever situation you find yourself in now, be kind to yourself and find the positive–I promise there is something positive. Find that thing that’s working for your students, and work with it! If you are restricted in what you can do and how you can do it, then allow yourself to let go. Adapt your expectations while we get through this. We have what is hopefully a temporary struggle in front of us, but it’s also an amazing opportunity to try something new.

Looking for ideas for distance learning activities or choice boards? Check out this collection of 250 ideas! Plus, both pre-filled and blank, editable Music Bingo and Listening Bingo cards to get you started right away!

music task ideas cover

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo…and it’s worth fighting for.

What was something you found was really great about teaching remotely?

Focus on the positive: 18 great things about online learning
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