Music education has changed forever
Actually, it’s not just music education or even education in its entirety that has transformed. It’s the way we operate in our daily lives, manoeuvre tasks, and offer services. Covid-19 has changed our outlook on learning and working, potentially for the better – provided we can adapt quickly enough to our new environment.
This evolution was inevitable
Without Covid-19, the face of music education was morphing into something else, albeit at a slower rate. Why? Because technology is re-forming how we communicate, re-scaling the depths to which we can operate, and re-shaping how we present ourselves.
We expect more from what we get, and we expect more of ourselves. Surrounding ourselves with the right technology can streamline our daily tasks and reduce the time spent on what can be automated, anticipated, and tedious.
Change is all around us
It’s happening to high street stores as they move online. It’s happening within education as classrooms become digital. It’s happening to you as you read this blog on a smartphone or electronic device.
Here’s the short of it: technology is making business smarter.
It means you can ask questions about a service you’re receiving at the dead of night and still find answers. It means you can enjoy just the same customer experience despite being on the other side of the globe. It means you can feel more involved with what you’re getting, no matter what role you play along the way.
All of this puts pressure on the music service community. It doesn’t matter if you run a conservatoire, oversee administration, teach, or monitor your child’s music education. The sudden impact of social distancing and improved technology has been a struggle for music services.
Music is about community
It’s about sharing experiences. Music has always been social. That’s why social distancing has sent shockwaves through the music education scene. It’s important that music doesn’t get lost or traded in for ‘core’ subjects like science and mathematics. Music is core to fixing the isolation we feel. So, rather than working against the grain, let’s try and move with it. Let’s make technology lead music services into a new era.
What’s worth considering?
We’ve come a long way in the battle to change rapidly and keep music education afloat, and it’s working well! Still, thinking about our new circumstances and how we interact can encourage further growth. We’re going to address what needs to be considered for each stakeholder in the face of changing music education. Here goes…
Keeping up with students: In the new music education scene, students will likely need training or support when it comes to familiarising themselves with whatever software, platforms, or technology their service is using to educate virtually. There’s a vast array of options out there and we can’t expect that pupils will recognise all of them.
On the same note, students may not understand how to access resources online or feel accustomed to new teaching structures and methods. It’s important that pupils are taught how to learn with their organisation before they can begin learning music.
It may be that students need some support engaging with their new virtual environment initially. They’ll need to re-learn how they learn, how to feel committed to learning, and how to feel present.
The good news is that some software already includes built-in training and support for all users.
Keeping up with parents: Technology means more connectivity. It means that parents can feel more involved with their child’s learning than ever before. By embracing technology, music and tuition services can offer more regular progress reports, updates, and communications. Still, not everyone is comfortable sharing information this way, so it’s important that measures are put in place for parents that don’t want to make virtual payments or share their information electronically. Freedom of choice is key.
Offering parents, the ability to access the most up-to-date information about their child’s learning is expected in our new techy world. By making parents aware of their access to this information digitally, services can boost their levels of inclusivity without any additional strain.
Keeping up with teachers: In the same way that pupils will need a virtual learning adjustment period, teachers will also. In fact, teachers will need to master their digital skills in order to lead pupils through an online or electronically reliant class. If they can refresh their knowledge on how to operate in the virtual classroom through training resources, more time can be devoted to learning and less time is lost trying to operate learning materials.
Teachers may also need to assess classes to determine whether they are meeting set targets and guidelines. With a re-structuring to learning approaches comes a re-alignment of our goals and expectations.
Coinciding with these new expectations is the need for new precautionary measures to rapidly re-think and make arrangements. We need to match a world in which things are prone to changing suddenly. This can be done by using technology that instantly adjusts schedules and amends plans. Teachers would benefit from using tools that are streamlined, lightning-fast, linked to parents and pupils’ devices, and user-friendly.
Keeping up with prospective customers: Better technology means that customers expect more from their service. Digital marketing, website maintenance, and easy virtual booking facilities are new elements for tuition services to address. It’s been revealed that at least 40% of customers expect live chat to be available on an organisation’s website. Over 60% of bookings are made online. Customers have come to see these facilities as standard. By utilising technology to onboard new pupils, the service on offer can operate on a much larger scale.
The hardest bit about offering customers something digitally is that it can often feel intangible. It’s imperative that prospective customers feel communicated with, and that they ultimately feel that what they pay for in time and money is recognisable, measurable, and worthwhile.
Keeping up with government guidelines: This one is more for the here and now. Government guidelines and social distancing make the physical act of practising an instrument troublesome. Fast new measures can also scatter plans to the wind whether technological precautions are put in place or not. To combat the unpredictable, we need to welcome uncertainty and flexibility. Deadlines for assignments may have to be set back. Payment deadlines and classes may need to be rescheduled. Technology can help to soften the blow of these, but it takes a bit of forgiveness on everyone’s part to get things done.
Out with the old and in with the new
New approaches to running a performing arts tuition service are on the horizon. Technology is the tool we can use to save music education; we just need to adopt it and monitor it closely.
By working with reliable technology, we can offer a better learning experience than ever before. One which is real and virtual, flexible in time, space, and geography. We just need to make sure that we open ourselves up to new structures rather than keeping our eyes closed to the innovative possibilities that surround us.
There is no straight right or wrong. These observations aren’t definitive, but by continuing to observe and adapt we can recognise where change is happening and where it needs to happen. This puts us one step closer to a solution.