Attitude and Influence of Online Instrumental Lessons During COVID and Beyond

Concurrent Session 7

Brief Abstract

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of college classes were placed online, including instrumental lessons that had never really been conducted virtually before.  This research data showed a significant relationship between teacher opinion of virtual lessons and their opinion of the impact of virtual lessons.


I have been in the Western Kentucky University Libraries for six years. I have a MA and a MM in Music and a MLIS. My research and experience is with Distance Learning utilizing course management systems as an embedded librarian and personal librarian.

Extended Abstract

            The art of learning a musical instrument is typically a hands-on, interactive endeavor. Teaching the intricacies of making music shows students the best practices for their discipline in order for students to be successful. However, high quality music teachers are not available in every city, making access for students in many areas of the world wanting to learn an instrument from a professional challenging.  The use of virtual synchronous instruction and its ever-growing connection possibilities for music instructors gives access to students everywhere therefore providing opportunities for expanding their knowledge.  Understanding current research and applying this knowledge in music pedagogy can benefit students.

            In 2020, COVID-19 offered a unique – and for many, unwelcome – opportunity to transition what had traditionally been a largely face-to-face educational activity into an online learning experience. While many universities offered music appreciation in an online format prior to this, online instrumental lessons were not as common.  A typical face-to-face lesson includes listening to the instructor demonstrate a passage or a technique, watching the instructor demonstrate a physical technique or skill, listening to a professional recording, playing with accompaniment as if it were a performance, frequently stopping the student to address technique or errors, comments on tone production and sound quality to just name a few possible pedagogical techniques (Parkes, et al., 2012).  These things become more difficult when a student and instructor are not able to occupy the same space. Research into online lessons is still in its infancy.  Video conferencing has not been as widely available and reliable as it is in its current state.  Even in this advanced stage of communication the world has at its fingertips, video conferencing still has issues with connectivity and adequate sound and video quality for an extended duration (Dammers, 2009; Dye, 2016; Holt, 2016; Kruse, et al., 2013; Lockett, 2010; Orman, et al., 2010; Park, 2019; Wilson, 2013).

            While there are many shortcomings regarding online lessons, the practice does have positive prospects as well.  Online lessons allow students and instructors from anywhere in the world to connect.  This allows students the ability to pursue opportunities that previously would have been impossible (Kruse, et al., 2013).  It also allows students to seek out a wide array of instructors from around the globe (Holt, 2016).

            This research employed the use of the survey model.  The researcher sent a digital survey to 821 post-secondary applied lesson professors from well-respected music programs across the United States.  An email with a request for participation and a link to a Qualtrics digital survey was sent to chosen professors three times during Spring 2020 and three times during Fall 2020.  All participants voluntarily choose to answer the survey.

            The demographic questions were chosen to ascertain the participants’ experience with applied lessons in general and at the post-secondary level, their experience with online lessons, as well as their interest in online lessons prior to the pandemic.  The remaining questions were chosen to understand the participants’ experience with lesson during the pandemic in addition to their perspective of the effectiveness and delivery of online lessons.

            During this presentation, the presenters will share detailed information on applied lesson music professors gathered during the data collection.  One of the greatest insights from this research is that those professors who went into the sudden online lesson format with a more positive attitude had a more positive experience.  In addition to the sharing of these research data, participants will share some of the innovative styles of modifying traditionally face-to-face instruction to an online synchronous learning experience.  Synchronous audience polling using online polling platforms will be utilized throughout the session for a more interactive audience experience.