There are times when in-person lessons are not the best option. The two most common are when someone is sick or the road conditions make travel dangerous. For some families, the idea of doing online lessons (even if only for emergencies) brings out an adamant NO. What do you do when parents don’t want to be online, but it is the best option for the moment?
4 Tips for when parents don’t want to be online
These 4 tips have been instrumental in helping parents go from “No way!” to “Okay, we can try this to see how it goes.” They all focus on honouring the parent’s wishes while guiding them towards giving online lessons a chance.
This article doesn’t focus on moving clients online for the long term. If someone doesn’t want online lessons, you can use these tips to see if they change their mind. But, it may be that online lessons just aren’t for those clients. That’s their choice.
Put Yourself In Their Shoes
We all deal with stress in different ways. During the last year, I’ve come up with a theory. When dealing with long-term stress, we tend to become more of who we already are … but without the filters. Some people lash out at any change to the often tenuous routine they’ve created. Others take a deep breath & do their best to accept what can’t be changed.
And, everyone (regardless of temperament) has days when it was one thing too many & the dam broke. Unfortunately, we are sometimes the recipients of the overflow of emotion.
Find out the root of the problem
Very rarely is it that parents don’t want to be online without an underlying reason. There are one or more concerns or fears that are the real reason.
Some of the more common concerns are:
- Will their child be engaged or is it just more screen time?
- Lagging video & audio means it’s frustrating being online
- Don’t have an extra device for their child to use during lesson time
- Unsure what will be needed for the lesson
- The parent doesn’t have time to tech trouble-shoot during lesson time
These are all valid concerns. And, they each require a different solution for being online ranging from asynchronistic to using a different platform for the lesson.
Make it easy for them
As a parent, I’ve become all too aware of just how much all the little things add up. Not only do I have to worry about my to-do list, but I have to check in with my kids & what is on their to-do list. Some days I just throw my hands up in the air & say, “I’m done!”
This has led to an administrative goal in my studio. I want to make lessons as easy for parents as possible.
- The online platform has to be easy for students & their parents to use,
- Providing video tutorials & in-lesson help to transition to online,
- Ensuring there are resources to help parents,
- Managing expectations with clearly defined steps
- Letting parents know the backup plan (especially if internet issues is the concern)
Train students to be independent during lesson time
This falls under ‘making it easy’, but really deserves its own category. A big part of what we should do is train our students to do practice independently. But, the same applies to online lessons.
Taking time to teach students independent skills pays off (whether in-person or online).
- Students write reminders on the music
- Know how to find different measures in the music
- Keep supplies at the piano so they can be used during lessons & practice time
For online lessons, knowing how to set up the device so their instrument shows & how to unmute/mute are integral to lessons running smoothly.
Keep communicating & share the wins from lessons
It can be scary to try something new … or give something another chance if it didn’t go so well the first time. This is true for adults just as much as students. When parents don’t want to be online, it may stem from worry that this will be another thing that doesn’t work out.
Keep the lines of communication open with the parents in your studio. It’s amazing what a simple text or phone call do to set parents at ease! Sharing wins from online lessons (even other students) can help parents see that this is a viable option.
None of this worked … Now what?
If a parent still doesn’t want to be online after these 4 tips, honour their wishes. One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn was that I couldn’t change someone’s mind if they weren’t open to looking at a different viewpoint. There are times when it doesn’t matter that it is the safest/easiest/best option, the parent doesn’t want to change from the norm.
This doesn’t mean that we have to teach in-person if it isn’t safe to do so. You do not need to put your health or safety at risk in order to run a successful studio.
If a parent doesn’t want to explore any live online options there are 3 other options to explore:
- Asynchronistic lessons: They send videos of what has been practiced, you send a video lesson that shows their child what to do next. This could include a phone call to review together, but it will eat into your personal time so choose this sparingly.
- If they aren’t willing to send videos, don’t keep this option. From personal experience I can say the video lessons will not be watched.
- Music lab assignments: This is one I’ve used for vacations when the student won’t be near a piano. Assign apps & activities that their child can do independently on the devices they will have available.
- I recommend getting at least 2 weeks notice so you have time to pull together assignments beforehand.
- The last lesson before vacation should have part of the time dedicated to going through the apps & assignments so the student AND parent are clear on what to do.
- A week off: This isn’t my first recommendation for a reason. The more weeks off, the more likely the parent will decide lessons just aren’t worth it. But, it is the last option if the parent isn’t willing to work with you on making the situation work.
Making online lessons work
If you would like more ideas & support as you navigate online lessons you can set up a 1-hour session with me to get a personalized plan that fits your studio!
Which of these tips has helped you the most? Let me know in the comments below.