We’re getting ready to kick off a new suite of Online Learning opportunities with the Ranges Music Network. I can’t say that I was in a hurry to jump on the Online program bandwagon — but maybe not for the reasons that you’d expect. Online activities certainly have their pitfalls, but there are definitely some real positives too — or ways that we can tease out benefits that might be missing in our face-to-face activities that the Online pivot can help us develop.
Are we disconnected?
The first issue that comes to mind when thinking about running a Band, Choir or even a music lesson online is ‘how do we connect’? There are great tools like Google Meet, Zoom, Facetime and more that will allow us to see each other and interact. From a musical standpoint there are technical issues that mean its really difficult to ‘play together’ in an online chat. Latency (the delay you hear when talking to your relatives) makes activities like jamming together or even playing an exercise very difficult. Unfortunately the modern world has addressed many of our woes, but hasn’t figured out how to speed up electricity!
By connecting through chats or, as we’ve chosen a hybrid of both Meetups and learn-at-your-own-pace content (videos, sheet music, text, audio and more) are we just creating another stream for people to ingest entertainment (a la Netflix), or will they really learn, grown and benefit? What happens to the interaction through enjoying the language of music, communicating with others through playing, listening, responding? I honestly think that hope is not lost in this tough time.
Conscious, Purposeful Learning
If you have a look at the core principles that drive everything we do at the Ranges Music Network one of the big drivers is ensuring that we’re transparent and purposeful in everything that we do. The easy answer is just to replicate what we do in person with Learner musicians to an online platform, chat or meeting. But as I mentioned above that is full of pitfalls from a technical and musical standpoint. How do I honestly say to you, the client that we’re presenting an equal value product in that format and making the most purposeful use of your valuable learning time (and investment)?
An Opportunity For Reflection
This leads us to the process through which we can look at what we do everyday and make improvements. Disruption (like the events we’re all living through) is a great time for reflection, adaptation and ultimately improvement. Music has been taught the same way for 100 or 200+ years. Think about all the innovations in human existence that have come around in that time. You wouldn’t forgo indoor plumbing just because that’s the way we’ve always done it, would you?
Moving to Online Learning presents the opportunity to examine how we teach, what we teach and how we engage with eager music makers. Obviously there will always be compromises and caveats compared to having the opportunity to work together in person. But I truly believe that the journey we’re going on will make more of us reflect on what it is we do, how we teach and learn, how we interact as people, musicians, educators, learners. When we come out of this on the other side we may find that life becomes a hybrid of the old and the new. That we move the needle just a little bit forward.
In the next post I’ll walk you through the journey we’ve gone on to develop our approach to Online Learning at the Ranges Music Network. We’re really excited to engage with more of the community than we might have been able to in the ‘physical world’ and the opportunities that will bring once we’re all able to make music in the sunshine again!
Keep smiling everyone. As the hashtag reminds you to #stayhomeplayhard. We’ll be with you all along the way because you can’t stop the music!
— Shaun Evans, Program Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)