Teaching Ideas

How To Use Digital Escape Rooms in Your Music Studio

How To Use Digital Escape Rooms
In the past year, digital escape rooms have become more popular in music studios.  Many teachers have looked for online solutions that get students practicing music skills without the stress of trying to do everything live.  These have become a student-favourite in my studio & for good reason!  But, knowing how can we use digital escape rooms when lessons already seem jam-packed can be a struggle.

How to use digital escape rooms

The biggest thing I’ve learnt in the last year is that it doesn’t really matter where we teach.  Whether in-person or online, our relationship with our students is the most important thing.  Everything else is just a matter of deciding the best tool for the situation & student.  However, I will say there are researched-based reasons why digital escape rooms work so well (you can find out here). 
There are 3 main ways you can use or present digital escape rooms.
  • Your device (in-person):  Play the music, show the questions & write in the answers your student tells you.
  • Your computer/device (online):  Screen-share, the student annotates their answers & you input what they select/write for them.
  • Student device (either in-person or online):  Place the digital escape room in a shared folder that they access on their device during the lesson.  If online, get them to screen-share so you can both see progress.

Lately, I’ve noticed my students need more time with me.  Even when they can do something independently they’ve wanted us to do activities together during lessons.  Why?  It’s been a tough year for all of us & I believe it’s their way of making a connection with someone else.

Several years ago, one of my sons had a lot of anxiety since I’d had multiple surgeries.  It led to my son feeling a lot of uncertainty in his world.  If mommy wasn’t okay, then he wasn’t okay.  After months of trying to help my son, I found out about languages of love.  Spending daily one-on-one time with him was what he needed to feel right in his world.  Even as teens, there are times when my sons sit down on the couch to be close.  They may or may not share what is going on, but it’s a sign that they need the connection.

Our students are the same.  You can absolutely have students do digital escape rooms on their own (I’ll explain how below).  But if your student’s language of love is time & attention (like my kids), then taking the time to do these digital escape rooms during lessons is the most important thing you can do for student retention.

When to use them

There is a lot we work to cover each lesson.  And with time at a premium, there are 4 optimal times to use digital escape rooms.

Music lab: Set aside time for students to do these independently or with you.
Group lesson: Perfect time to dig into a topic & it can give students a chance to either review or learn something new.  Just be sure to do something active in between each escape room!
“It’s one of those days” lessons: Your student isn’t open to playing.  But, they may be open to listening to music & talking it through with you in a low-pressure way!
Makeup lesson: Use these as an alternative to booking a new time or making a video lesson.  This option is easy on teachers (little to no prep time) & can be done regardless of whether your student has access to a piano or internet that isn’t conducive to live online lessons.
 
There is one last option, but I wouldn’t recommend it at this point in time.  You can assign digital escape rooms for weekly homework.  This is different than a makeup lesson situation in that it is “in addition to” vs. “instead of”.  Parents have enough on their plates already without making sure their kids get to the piano AND complete (what feels like) the new version of theory worksheets.  No matter how engaging the digital escape room is it will end up feeling like just another piece of homework.
 
Yes, use digital escape rooms as an educational tool.  But, also use them in a way that makes it as easy as possible on students & their parents.
 
This phrase is one I have repeated often in the past year …
 
“Piano lessons should not be the place you feel stress or overwhelmed.  It should be the place you feel supported & encouraged.”
 
I believe that extends to the practice week as well.  When students & parents feel supported & encouraged, they want to stay.  When students are having fun (with digital escape rooms for example), they really want to stay.

The easiest way to include digital escape rooms

If the idea of prepping more for lessons makes you think, “Oh, dear.  NO!”  Consider purchasing ready-made digital escape rooms.  Let someone else take on the research, find music & figure out the questions.  Instead, grab a cup of tea & a book (or turn on the tv to binge on Netflix) knowing that it’s one less thing on your to-do list.

I’ve done the hard part for you by creating multiple series of digital escape rooms that cover a lot of different topics!  To access these, click here.

These digital escape rooms are updated throughout the year with seasonal themes only leaving the vault for short periods of time.

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