I have been giving flute lessons via Skype for going on 3 years now. I have found it an incredible asset and a great tool for teaching. I can say now, that with this many years behind me, what I have learned, both good and bad, and I”m glad to see another article on it as well.
Teaching via Skype is not best for beginners
One of my first students was a third grader. I’m teaching her to this day, however, things were REALLY difficult in the beginning. With her not being in band class or having any other musical outlet, she didn’t understand rhythm, beat or counting. When she was old enough to join music classes she immediately improved and it’s not a problem anymore. However, not being able to be there in person and be able to touch her, to help her feel the beat, or even be able to physically move her fingers when she was fingering a wrong note was immensely difficult. Because of this, I open my Skype lessons only to advanced middle school and up.
You HAVE to have a fast internet connection and a good webcam.
I have had some horrendous lessons because the student lived in the middle of nowhere and their internet connection was spotty. The first few lessons were fine, but after that things started to get ugly. You can’t have a flute lesson over the phone, which without video, is essentially what Skype is. If you want Skype lessons, go for FAST internet connection and have a good webcam. You won’t be able to see music over the webcam otherwise and vice versa.
Do your billing via automatic PayPal billing.
This is a lifesaver. Because with Skype lessons you generally don’t have to worry as much about school being out, snow days, etc. lessons go on on a pretty regular basis. All of my Skype students live in different states from me, currently I have 3 in Florida and 1 in New Jersey. I have a one that prefers to have me invoice them and they have their bank cut me a check, and for some families that works best. However, I’ve found out that having your students sign up via PayPal automatic billing takes a HUGE hassle out of the payment process. Their card is charged every month on the same day for the same amount. This ensures continuity on everyone’s end and there’s no worry about “oh I forgot the check this week, can I mail it you later?”
With these things in mind Skype lessons can be a really viable option and I’m glad I’ve been doing it for so long. It definitely gives students an opportunity who might not otherwise have it, to have lessons.