• Robert Jane

The Pros and Cons of Online Drum Lessons

After 16 months of constantly changing rules and regulations, face-to-face drum lessons are once again running full steam ahead and I'm pleased to say that I'm seeing more and more new faces coming to me amongst the familiar older ones I've taught throughout the pandemic.


Before Covid hit and changed everything for good, it was assumed by almost all music teachers that in-person teaching was the only way, and that teaching online was simply impossible. As with so many other industries however, we all quickly realised not only were Zoom lessons essential for our businesses and for student's progress and wellbeing, but actually there were some fantastic advantages to this technology! What's clear is that online lessons aren't going anywhere, even despite all restrictions being lifted, so I wanted to explore exactly what the pros and cons of Zoom lessons were, so here we go!

 

The Pros of Online Lessons


Zero Travel Time!

Let's start with one that'll be obvious to anyone who's been working from home all year; Unsurprisingly, the fact you only need to open up your laptop to start each lesson is a huge factor for parents and students. It wasn't uncommon for students of mine to have a 1 hour round-trip each week before the pandemic for their lesson, so being able to spend more time at home and less time in traffic is always going to be popular


A better point of view

Slightly less obvious but probably the biggest advantage in my opinion is that your teacher can see exactly how you've got your drum kit set up and help you to make changes. It's fair to say there were a few puzzled expressions during the first few weeks of lockdown as I saw kits in all sorts of strange layouts and with parts missing! Before, I'd have never known if a student was holding back their progress with an awkward drum kit set up, but now this can be fixed for good in one lesson!


Technology

Everybody's familiar with Zoom as we've all had to use it for everything from daily work calls to the Christmas Day family Quiz, but there's a whole host of great tools hidden under the surface for us music teachers to take advantage of. Being able to share my computer screen and audio with students has really helped with demonstrations and introducing students to new drummers and music, while digital annotations of sheet music really help to demonstrate exactly what the student needs to work on each week.


 

The Cons of Online Lessons


Dropped Connections...

Unsurprisingly this is top of the list of frustrations and drawbacks to online lessons. It seems even households with the "best" fibre broadband encounter problems often, and if you just don't live where there's a good modern line or you have to share the bandwidth with family members on work calls or binging Netflix, it can bring the whole lesson to a halt just minutes in.


A worse point of view

While being able to see a student's own kit is a real plus, that's only the case if I can actually see the kit..! Laptops and iPads are great for FaceTime where you're looking straight at the screen, but those cameras just aren't designed to capture a whole drum kit and student. Often, in order for the student to get a good view of the screen they end up with the camera not really capturing much of the drum kit at all. This is particularly an issue for younger drummers whose technique on the kit is still forming, as it's not always easy to see what the hands and feet are doing


Little interaction

Video calls just aren't made for drum lessons! A quick phone chat isn't too big an issue, but the loud noise of drumming mixed with the various delays from computer to computer make normal, natural interaction quite difficult sometimes. Playing along with the teacher is often a great and fast way to learn, but online this just isn't possible yet. Instead, demonstrations have to be staggered which with a bad connection on top can really slow down the pace of lessons.



 

In my own opinion from my experience teaching hundreds of hours online over the last year and a half, online lessons provide a fantastic way to bring the drum teacher right into your home in a convenient and high-tech way. While I'm not sure the pros and cons of Zoom lessons lean strongly one way or another, there's certainly no substitute for sitting opposite the teacher, copying their hand movements and playing drums on a full professional instrument that's set up to allow you to play at your best.


Ultimately, I've found a lot of students and parents have been combining both approaches with alternating online and face-to-face lessons, and this seems to strike a great balance for those with increasingly limited time, but ever-increasing frustration at the pitfalls of technology and working from home!


If you want to give drum lessons a go either online or in-person, I'm offering 50% off the first month of lessons so you can get a good taste of how either lesson style works for you, so please don't hesitate to drop me a message here!