How to Survive Distance Learning as a Music Teacher

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I never thought that I would be teaching online. If you’d told me a year ago that this was happening, I would have thought you were completely crazy. Distance learning as a music teacher is tough– but it’s not impossible.

In the Spring, I had a really, really hard time. I was beyond stressed out. The plans changed every week, I was working extra hard so that my students would have quality educations, we had meetings all of the time, and it was just craziness. I thought distance learning as a music teacher was nearly impossible.

All Spring, I said, “I just have to get to the fall, and then things will be normal again.”

Well. Here we are in the fall, and things are far from normal.

We started the school year online. As I am writing this, the board is meeting today to determine a plan of action as to when we go back. Honestly, I’m not sure about how I feel about going back.

I didn’t want to start the year off distance learning, but we did anyway. I was really worried about feeling all of the things that I felt in the Spring– the stress, the anxiety, the pressure, etc. I did not want to feel that way.

Social media made it even worse, as it usually does. Specifically, I heard a lot of not helpful comments, such as…..

  • I have to start over.
  • I feel like a first year teacher again.
  • I’m starting from scratch.

Maybe you’ve heard those things. Maybe you’ve even said some of those things.


The Mindset Shift

Lesson planning was hard. I kept thinking of my favorite, fun music activities and how we cannot do them online. I kept saying, “We can’t do that, we can’t do that.”

Then, one day, I started thinking, “What can we do.”

Thinking about what we could do completely changed the game for me. Instead of being forced to think about all of these things that we were missing out on, suddenly lesson planning became a challenge. I started thinking, “How can I adapt what I’m already doing to virtual learning.”

Instead of dreading lesson planning, this little mindset shift made everything so much more manageable to me.

For you, I want you to do two things to help you this year.


1. Don’t start from scratch

People keep saying they are starting over, but the truth is– you aren’t! Do you remember what teaching was like your first year? I literally knew NOTHING. Nothing at all. Every day was a new hurtle I didn’t know existed, and I didn’t have any lessons up my sleeve.

Even if you’ve only been teaching one year, you have a year’s worth of lesson plans to fall back on. You already have ideas. You know songs. You know how to teach concepts. You know things now you didn’t know then.

So instead of starting from scratch, starting thinking about the things you would normally do, and see how you can adapt them to distance learning as a music teacher.


2. Try some new things!

I know, this sounds like the opposite of the advice I just game. But, when you come up to those activities you always do that you can’t do (like chase games or guitars), take that time to try something new.

Again: Take that time to try something new. That 10 minutes you would’ve been playing Charlie Over the Ocean, not the whole lesson.

Trying something new is scary, but it’s also fun. It adds an element of fun to your class, so that you can keep things fresh. Specifically, you can try out some technology that you normally wouldn’t get to try.

Go play on Chrome Music Lab, or try Solfeg.io, or make a Pear Deck.

I’ve been doing lots of different activities that are not what I would normally do– and both my kids and I are loving it.

As we try these new things, I focus on one new thing at a time. So one day we may try a Kahoot! and another day we try a Google Slides activity. I don’t try to do all new things all the time.


3. If this was simple, what would it look like?

I listen to a lot of business podcasts to help me grow my Teachers Pay Teachers store. In one in particular that I was listening to the other day, Ask Pat by Pat Flynn, Pat said this question so someone,

If this were simple, what would it look like?

In general, the more simple the better. When getting through distance learning as a music teacher, it is even more important. So many things are weird or new or crazy. So many things are difficult. So many things are changing.

When you look at your lessons, think– if this were simple, what would it look like?

Some of the very best lessons that we’ve had so far have been singing and dancing, like we would have in the classroom. We’ve done drawing rhythms on a piece of paper and had students hold them up to the camera.

It doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective.


Need some help distance learning as a music teacher?

Now, if you want some help with distance learning– you’re not alone! We all need a little bit (or a lot!) of help right now.

I’ve been working so hard for my students, but also to help y’all. I’ve been creating distance learning TPT activities, and talking about all of my lesson plans on Youtube.

But I wanted to really, really help out. So I created an online course.

In this course– Teaching Elementary Music Online– we go through tips, tricks, tutorials, and lesson plans (that work!) to give you all the tools that you need to do distance learning without the stress. The videos are short, actionable, and to the point. You can come watch one one day and another on another day– most are around 10 minutes.

When you get into the course, you’ll also get a FREE copy of the lesson ebook Virtual Music Lessons for Teaching Music Online. This ebook is 80 pages long, and it stocked with lessons that are fun, engaging, and simple. You also get access to some free digital resources that your students can use to compose, move, and learn music.

You can purchase the course by clicking here.

You can get the course for a one time payment of $75.

When you get in, you get access to:

  • Short, actionable training videos about how to teach music online
  • 80 page ebook full of lesson plans
  • Free digital activities ready for your students to use

So if you’re ready to stop stressing about distance learning as a music teacher, click here to join the program.


If you’d prefer to just get the lesson plan book, you can purchase the ebook for $25 by clicking here.

If you’re not in a position to purchase, I get it. If you can’t afford it, then please, don’t buy it. Or see if your school will pay for it. You can still get help by watching my videos on YouTube here (I share all of my lessons each week!), and you can grab a FREE PDF Guide to Zoom Lessons by clicking here. It has four pages of lessons, and will definitely get you started.

Got a question? DM me on Instagram (@BeccasMusicRoom) or email me at beccasmusicroom@gmail.com

I can’t wait for you to get started! You will feel less stressed and more excited to see your kiddos.

Happy teaching!

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