Tools for Teaching Music Composition Online
Many music teachers play more than one instrument, and they can perform very well! When you sign up as a music tutor, perhaps you decide you feel more comfortable teaching what you consider your main instrument, whether the guitar, the drums, the harp, the piano, or the trombone. However, chances are that you are also qualified to teach something else: we are referring to music theory and composition, of course!
You don’t need to be a famous composer to start teaching your students some of these basic resources. And even for those students who only wish to be great interpreters of their instruments, knowing the theory behind the music they already play will definitely help them enjoy themselves more and gain a better understanding of what they are playing.
Technology is in your favor!
We have already explained that there are many advantages of online music lessons. However, if you are used to teaching your music lessons in the student’s home or a studio, first you may need to overcome a few difficulties and get used to new equipment and such. The sound quality you get from a camera and a microphone through a WiFi network may be great, certainly good enough to provide quality music lessons, but when it comes to music theory and composition, technology not only is not an obstacle whatsoever but can be extremely helpful!
This is because, first, there are great tools for teaching theory & composition online, some of them are free. Second, because you can actually show your students examples of theory or composition just by sending them a file, such as a sheet music, a text, or an audio file, right away, instead of telling them “ok, so next time we meet remind me to get you this great material I’ve got”. Think about it: evaluating composition exercises that your students submit from different parts of the country is exactly the same as checking a file they download straight in your PC at the music studio. That’s right: when it comes to writing music, there is virtually no distance whatsoever!
Anyone can learn music theory
If you think learning music theory or composition is only for advanced students, think again! Even little children can learn music notation, rhythms, chords, scales, etc. through fun games. For example, you can try Song-Maker, which is a free, simple, and visually-appealing program even children in kindergarten can interact with. It is perfect for beginners, in a word!
And that turns this kind of program into a great tool for all the music teachers who are forced to provide lessons from their homes since the Covid-19 outbreak. If you usually spend your classes making your little students sing, clap their hands following a rhythm, dance, etc. you may find particularly frustrating to translate all those fun in-place activities to remote online lessons. When children sing along, the different Internet speed connections don’t allow them to synchronize; some of the little ones are too shy to dance in front of their parents, or their older siblings, and many of them don’t have musical instruments at home. Providing them a simple composition tool can really make a difference in your online class until all of you can safely go back to school.
Plus, many teachers find that letting them compose is a great way to reach for those students who are usually not motivated by traditional approaches to music.
Solfeg.io is another app for teaching music the fun way! It is free for schools and you have full notations and high-quality recordings of 30 great songs from famous artists (such as Katy Perry, Eminem, or Ed Sheeran). And even if you sign up on your own for $9.99 a month, you still get a two-week trial. Its whiteboard turns it into a great tool for screen sharing through video calls.
For little children (any kindergarten music teacher reading this, perhaps?) there are many fun games you can use in PBS Kids. Little children may have a great time playing on their tablets and for families, the best part is that they are so simple that they require little to no supervision!
Other great programs for composition
For more advanced students, the choice of programs only keeps expanding! Soundtrap is another great tool for creating music projects online that runs on many different platforms. It is a great tool for education because one of its main points is that it’s collaborative and allows group creations. Thus, it’s not only great for teaching composition, but also for keeping ensembles or bands together during social isolation! You can still create music together, each one from home. If you are a private music tutor you still have a 30-day trial period in which you can learn how to use the program, and see if it works for you.
Musescore is a great music notation software you can download for free, that allows you to write music for many different instruments, including orchestra, marching bands, choirs, and many more. As for sheet music notation, Sibelius is another more complex, paid choice, especially recommended for more advanced students who can already read music.
More advanced options
If you are teaching advanced students, or you are willing to create complex pieces such as soundtracks, editing electronic music, or adding multiple sound layers to your pieces, there are paid programs such as FL studio, or Ableton. These are professional software programs that may need you to investigate them before using them for teaching music composition or music theory. Yet, they offer infinite possibilities for creating music through technology.
We hope when you sign up as a music tutor for Nabi Music, you take into account all the possibilities technology offers for teaching music theory or music composition. Hopefully, you’ll find many interested students willing to learn, have fun, and to express themselves through their musical creations!