Teaching Music Overseas – Strategies for Disabled Students

Samantha Foss

January 20, 2023

If you are looking to teach music remotely, there are several strategies you can use. The key is to adapt your teaching to fit your student’s needs. Here are some tips on how to do so.

Avoid synchronous learning

There are many reasons why you may have chosen to teach music remotely. In some cases, it’s the only option. Financial constraints or personal reasons prompt others. Whatever the case, it pays to be aware of the risks and how to avoid them. Among these are common pitfalls and the hidden costs associated with using the wrong tools or techniques. The following tips can help you navigate them.

One of the most important considerations is the quality of the audio. A poor audio signal can impede the performance of a group. It’s also important to consider the quality of the video and the corresponding hardware. To wit: a webcam is only sometimes reliable and sometimes stops working.

Find mentors

Undoubtedly, many teachers need help to include music in their classrooms. One of the reasons is the need for more resources. Luckily, there are ways to help you have music in your curriculum. For instance, you can search online for existing content or create your own.

One such resource is Project Sparks. This innovative intervention uses young adults with disabilities as mentors to foster students’ musical and emotional growth. In the first phase of the project, eight classes participated.

The group of participants had at least five years of music training. They were trained to become mentors for primary school children.

Adapt instruction

If you teach music remotely, you know how challenging it can be to provide consistent instruction. It would help if you also catered to your students’ different needs. This includes learning and social challenges, technology issues, and online safeguards.

There are many free resources on the internet for teachers who need to adapt their instruction. Some of the most useful is found in lessons. It is a comprehensive resource containing many mobile apps and technology to help students with disabilities learn and participate in music-making.

The lesson’s guide to adaptive instruments offers tips on including all students in musical activities. It also provides information on the best tools for students with disabilities.

Avoid latency

When teaching music to students with disabilities, you have to be aware of the limitations posed by latency. While video conferencing may be the gold standard for powerful group performances, it isn’t the panacea for every educational need. One solution is JackTrip, an open-source software that aims to do video conferencing as Skype did for voice comms. The most exciting part is that you can do this without buying a plane ticket to the other side of the planet.

A good old-fashioned web browser may suffice for some, but for those who don’t have a digital assistant tucked away in the corner of their room, JackTrip is your best bet.

Explain to students what they would like to focus on

If you’re planning to teach music remotely, explaining to students what you want them to focus on is essential. This will help you ensure you’re able to meet their needs. You also want to keep them engaged and happy during your lessons.

One way to keep students interested is to diversify your classes. For example, you may have a band and a choral group. Then, you can create different activities for each group. These activities can include games, videos, and songs.

Another way to add to your lesson is to invite a guest. For instance, a local musician could come in for an hour and show your students how to play professionally. Not only will this make your students enjoy the experience, but it will spark their interest in music.

Avoid lockdowns and school closures

It’s no secret that lockdowns and school closures are unpleasant. This is especially true for younger children, who are often left with no social media to connect with their peers. Fortunately, there are several online communities available that can help parents and educators alike find solutions. Using social networking and digitally mediated communication, caregivers can connect with their young charges while on the go. These resources might be of particular use to music teachers looking to avoid the hassles and expense of being out of work.

The biggest challenge for remote music teachers is ensuring they comply with all applicable laws and regulations, such as keeping students safe online, to continue teaching. This entails considerable legwork, such as ensuring the proper licensing and insurance for digital equipment and software. In addition, these teachers are often forced to deal with wary parents and furloughed colleagues, which can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience.