Expert Tips for Online Music Lessons

By: Blink Lesson

Music Lesson teachers must embrace how today's students learn and how today's customers interact with their businesses.

COVID-19 forced music teachers to go online and use Skype, Zoom, and other video conferencing systems. However, these types of video conference platforms were designed for chats or business meetings, not teaching, let alone music. They lack audio and interactive features necessary for online music lessons. Thus, teachers are forced to use screen-share for most anything, which can get clunky. This makes an already difficult situation even harder for both students and teachers.

I've put together the following thoughts, from our experience at Blink working with lesson teachers, as well as tutors, therapists, and others. I hope this will help you as you step into the modern music student’s world.

Think About the Space

Before you start online music lessons, consider WHERE you will be. Don't assume you can do online lessons anywhere just because your students will not physically visit you. Of course, you need a quiet place, that also has sufficient lighting that is aimed at your face (or instrument).

Make sure that the space is free from distractions. It would be distracting to have a dog bark at every passing car during the lesson! Similarly, if there are no blinds on windows facing major city streets or highways, consider pulling down window shades so that passersby cannot distract either of you while giving the lesson.

Now, many (most) teachers stop there - they only think about THEIR setup and ignore their students. Come up with some requirements for your student's space like: "set up your computer in a quiet room with good light where I can see your face and instrument."

Be aware that many times, students will be using a phone or tablet, not a computer. Because of this, it is imperative that they should be in an area that is quiet and just like you, clear of distractions. This way the student will focus more easily on the lessons and less on a sibling watching TV etc.

Wifi: Lastly, figure out if there is wifi interference in the space. Today, people rely on wifi which is convenient, but for video conferencing, this can be problematic because of interference. Read through our guide on what affects video conferencing quality.

Lighting: The lighting should be bright enough for students to see you and your instrument clearly. This does not mean having light shining directly into your face; this means that there should be enough light to see you (and the student) clearly overall. The lighting should also be steady and not too variable, as this can cause your camera problems. If you have a window or lamp with a warm yellow light bulb in the room where you want to give lessons, use it! A warm yellow glow makes everything look better on video: instruments, sheet music, faces, and even furniture will look nicer. Most importantly, avoid bright light sources behind you like windows.

What Kind of Gear Will You Need

The first time you are connecting with your student online can be overwhelming, but it really comes down to 4 things: a camera, microphone, internet connection, and video teaching platform.  

A camera and microphone are standard on most laptops but if you are using a desktop, you can purchase an external webcam. If you want to enhance the experience, add a second camera so that one view will be on your hands/instrument and the other on your face. Blink Lesson has a second camera feature which makes this super easy.

Wired internet is always best if you can swing it. Desktop computers usually have an Ethernet port for connecting directly to your router via ethernet cable. With Laptops, you can purchase an Ethernet, "dongle". For some laptops, you'll get a USB (A or C) to Ethernet, and for others, something else. Using a wired Ethernet connection will give the fastest speed and most importantly, avoid wifi inference.

Other tips:

  • Make sure that other devices aren't using all of your bandwidth by pausing downloads or streaming video sources before your lesson begins. This applies to you and your student.
  • Plug in your computer. This might not always be possible since there might not be enough power outlets around but try what works best for you :)

Finally, decide on a video teaching platform. While there are plenty of video conferencing options out there, as we discussed earlier, mainstream options were not designed for interactive learning. Using those options becomes especially challenging if you need to share content other than video, which will always be the case with music lessons.

If you need to see the same, say, sheet music, there are a few options. You could use SmartMusic or Skoove or the second option is to find sites like FlatScore or Musescore that sell digital versions of sheet music. However, to use these you would need to share your screen while in lessons or for homework through programs like Dropbox or Google Drive. It can get confusing fast, which is why I, of course, recommend you try Blink Lesson where all of your needs are built into one system.

Tip: When screen sharing you increase bandwidth usage as well as processing speed on your device and your students. The term “latency” is thrown around a lot when it comes to online music lessons. Many software products will claim that they have, "fixed" this issue but the reality is that this is 99% dependent on bandwidth, processing speed, and how you set everything up. Consider using a video teaching platform that allows you to bypass using screen share. More about this HERE.

How Will You Take Payment

Another very important thing to think about is how you will take payment. Might sound obvious, but you can't take cash or check over a video conference.

Every year music lesson teachers and studios lose between 5%-20% of potential revenue because they do not have an easy way to keep track of who owes what and when they are supposed to pay. It will be important for you to have a plan.

Will you require your students to pre or post-pay? Since your students will not be handing you payment, your system must be simple and intuitive for them and their parents. Customers appreciate simplicity when it comes to payment. Don't frustrate them and lose out on money because you don't have a system that works easily online.

Tip: Although subscription billing may seem convenient, it can cause headaches when it comes to dealing with makeups (because of you or them). More about how you charge for lessons being more important than what you charge for lessons HERE.

How Will You Schedule Lessons and Communicate

You will need to think through what will be the best ways for you and your student to schedule lessons and how you communicate with your students outside of the lesson.

Whether or not your student shows up for a lesson is critical to your success and theirs. You’ll need to include in your onboarding process an attendance policy. Communicate expectations when it comes to scheduling conflicts, do they need to give a certain amount of advance notice? Will they forfeit the lesson if they cancel at the last minute? Or do they get one free lesson cancellation per term, without penalty?

Tip: Have an attendance policy that is signed by the person paying for the lesson. More on why students miss music lessons, how to fix it, and a free attendance policy template HERE.


Over the years, at Blink, we have learned the teachers and leaders that have the most success view teaching online as a skill in and of itself, not just another setting. They commit themselves to becoming good at teaching and running their operations online. They see it as a skill they need to learn and refine. Ultimately, your success depends on how much you dedicate to refining your online teaching skills and also choosing the right tools.