Dr. Brian Claxton, musician and music teacher, walks you through the best practices, creative ideas and flexible approaches for transitioning to teaching music lessons online. Watch the 40-minute workshop and 20-minute Q&A here, which was streamed live on Friday, March 27th, 2020.


Quick Takeaways:

  • Be prepared, stay organized and have good lesson plans. You can download Brian’s example Lesson Worksheet here.
  • Play to your strengths as a teacher! If you aren’t a tech wizard, don’t get bogged down by new equipment but rather keep it simple. Often, your computer’s internal microphone and speakers can get the job done. Instead, think about what your strength is in teaching – maybe hosting a deep listening session to discuss musicianship over a technique lesson could do the trick!
  • WiFi lag is bound to happen so keep things flexible should it occur. If you remain creative and mindful when teaching online it is an absolutely functional replacement for in-person sessions.
  • Teaching young kids can be done online with the help of parents to manage the tech and some classroom behaviors. It is more hands-on than usual for the parents but it could be a great way for them to further connect with their children and learn something new along the way.
  • While the prep work between and before online lessons may feel like more work at first, the reward can be just as good or even greater when you put in those extra few minutes. Take it one step at a time.

Tech Tips:

  • When considering the platform of your choice, keep the student in mind. What do they have access to? Here are the most popular platforms at this time:
    • Zoom (here is a quick YouTube tutorial on how to set up Zoom for lessons)
    • Facetime
    • Skype
    • Google Hangouts
    • Whatsapp calls
    • Facebook video calls
  • Microphones and cameras? Many built-in microphones and cameras on computers today will get the job done just fine. If you find that you can and want to add more equipment, go for it! But sometimes less is still more.
  • Keeping the student at the center of your approach will also lend to better accountability! You can use simple tools such as a digital daily practice journal on Google docs to keep track. That way both you and your student can review the practice, answer questions and stay connected. Check out Brian’s Practice Journal Template.

We also want to include some other known tips from around the world. Check out these sites for even more information!

Now, take a deep breath and remember the need for connection at this time. If you have more questions, please feel free to email the Music District at info@themusicdistrict.org. Happy Teaching!

About Dr. Brian Claxton:

Award-winning drummer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Brian Claxton is known for his electrifying groove and rhythmic mastery. His diverse background includes touring internationally with jazz piano legend Monty Alexander and performing alongside Donny McCaslin, Chris Potter, Christian McBride, Dave Douglas, Randy Brecker, Nicholas Payton, and many others.

An old soul and passionate student of the history of American music, Claxton has navigated a career with one foot in the past and one foot in the future, and has a musical voice that is as diverse as his performance experience. He has released three records as a co-leader and has appeared on over thirty others.

Claxton teaches at the University of Northern Colorado, and the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. His first record as a leader When I Get Home is available now.