EPISODE 89

Consider This If You Want to Make an Online Music Course

Plenty of people are successfully teaching music online. In this LMScast Chris Badgett will show you what to consider if you want to make an online music course. Not only can it be done, but you have more options for music instruction online than ever before.

Right now there are musicians teaching people to play music by ear, giving piano lessons, and even doing live one-on-one instruction through the internet. Your first step is to realize that it’s possible for you to do this. Next you’ll decide whether your venue should be passive or active.

Traditionally you would teach music classes in a studio or classroom, at your home, or even the student’s residence. With online music instruction you can teach anyone anywhere in the world. Whether you’re presenting a passive fixed curriculum on audio, video, and print media, or arranging for live, active training sessions via Skype or Zoom, you only need a minimal setup.

Basic requirements include internet access and the ability to teach. There’s no loss of time, travel, or overhead costs. Decide if you’re going to offer passive instruction, personalized training, or a combination of the two. It’s often a good idea to offer a low-cost passive online music course with the option to pay a higher fee for live instruction via Skype. The greater value you offer, the more you can charge. You do need good enough equipment to produce decent quality sound reproduction, but it doesn’t need to be perfect. Your teaching style and methodology are most important, especially starting out. The key to grabbing an audience is to target a niche and give them options.

If you’re ready to get started, there are some great tools to accomplish that and to build it yourself, like our LifterLMS course development platform for WordPress. But if you really just want to teach your course, our Boost service will get your course built and ready to go quickly and smoothly.

So consider this if you want to make an online music course: You absolutely can. You’ll reach a greater audience with fewer obstacles, and do it on your terms. If you’re technically savvy and/or on a tight budget try a demo of our LifterLMS course development platform. Or if you just want to teach music without having to become a web technician, try our Boost service. For more information about teaching music online go to lifterlms.com/my-music-courses.

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Chris: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and in this episode we’re going to be talking about things you need to consider if you’re thinking about creating an online course as a musician. The first thing I want to say with teaching music, it might seem impossible to do that through the internet, but it is actually quite possible. There’s people making great income, have built a great business and helped a lot of people learn different music skills on the internet.

A couple of examples that come to mind are Jermaine Griggs or Driggs. I think I’m saying his name right. He teaches people how to play music by ear. I know people who teach music through Skype from different parts of the world. I know others who teach people how to play piano in a passive format where there’s no live interaction. It’s just more of a teaching method and methodology. It is very possible. The first thing you need to consider if you’re going to be teaching music online or creating an online course around an instrument or some kind of musical education is to realize that it’s very possible, and there’s a lot of great examples of people out there who are already doing it.

The first big thing we need to think about once we’ve made the decision that yes, it’s possible to create an online music course is to think about the venue. We may be very used to having a music studio that our students come to, or making house calls, or teaching in some kind of music school or classroom. The venue is always the challenging part about music. But with the internet we have venues all over the place. It’s wherever there’s a good internet connection and a laptop computer even a tablet or a mobile phone. First we need to just think about the venue.

Once we come to terms with the fact that, okay, we can do it from anywhere, as long as we have a quiet environment or whatever, we can create our training or have our live music class with a student through the internet, that really solves the venue problem. It’s also really efficient. It saves a lot of time traveling to classes or paying for the overhead of buildings, taking the commute out, and all that sort of thing. Really you can reach the entire world, which is amazing. If you’re used to just teaching within a 100 or 50 or 20 miles of where you live, what if you could teach whatever your specialty is across the entire world? The venue question, now that starts to dissolve away.

It’s important to have good equipment, so you can get good sounds, like have a room or just somewhere to do your online music courses, whether it’s passive or active, where there’s decent quality. Don’t get too obsessed, because you may not need top shelf recording studio quality audio, and video, and equipment, and that sort of thing. The most important thing is that you have a methodology, you have a way of teaching people, and your hardware, your software, everything is good enough to make it happen.

The next thing we need to think about is are we going to be teaching in a passive manner, or are we going to be teaching in an active manner? A passive music course you could record on your own from home. Let’s say teaching people how to play piano by ear. You could record that course and teach all that’s possible without ever interacting with the student. Tape record those in terms of videos, maybe have some worksheets, some PDF documents, maybe some audio that goes in your lessons, and you’re good to go. That’s a very passive version.

Let’s say you’re teaching somebody how to play a very popular rock and roll song like Stairway to Heaven or something like that on the guitar. You could do that and not have any live interaction with your student. You can put it online, and say for $19 or $99, I’m going to teach you to go from not knowing how to play the guitar to being able to play Stairway to Heaven after a couple of weeks of practice. That’s very acceptable. That’s a passive online course, probably video based, audio based, that sort of thing.

If we want to go active or in person what we do is we create a … We need to have a way to also meet with people. you could do that with a service like Zoom, I recommend and also with a service called Skype, I’m sure you’ve heard of, some kind of way to meet in person. What I recommend if you’re going to do that, yes you don’t need the venue anymore. You can do it with your computer from anywhere, but you’re not really scaling yourself. You’re still trading your time for money. What I would recommend you do is consider a blended approach where you have some video content.

Let’s go back to our example of learning to play Stairway To Heaven on the guitar. Let’s say you offer that, and you have the video lessons and so on, but then you also offer a weekly one-on-one 30 minutes to an hour session were you meet directly with student. Then you can critique them. Maybe you noticed they’re holding the fretboard wrong, or they’re not quite getting the chords right, or something, they have some bad habit that’s preventing them from mastering the song. You can help them develop as a musician in a live manner. That then compliments the online or passive training you have. That’s the blended approach, which I highly recommend.

That’s also a lot more valuable. If we sell our passive version, learn to play Stairway to Heaven in a weekend for $19, if it’s going to include four 30-minute sessions, I might now charge $200, $300, because you are getting me one-on-one as a teacher, so therefore there’s more value there. That’s another great thing about using an online service to have a live meeting. Video face meetings aren’t just for corporations or for connecting with family who lives on another part of the country or in another country. It’s also for that kind of exchange. There’s some great tools out there for that.

Then the last thing I would say to consider is just if you are creating a music course, is to be careful, because you’ve mastered the skill of learning to play an instrument. You’ve developed habits there. You’ve developed proficiency. There’s a cognitive bias we often fall prey to you called, I believe it’s called the fundamental attribution error, which means just because I’m good at something or this skill, I’ll be good at another skill. If you’ve develop the skill as a musician, you’ve proven that you have endurance, and that you can work at something for a long time and become good and almost bring the talent into your subconscious, so you can play or sing without thinking about it.

The skill of building an online course and integrating the live components, it’s not necessarily … The tools are out there, and yes, if you want to tinker around with it you can, and you can figure that stuff out. I recommend you should do that if you’re on a really tight budget. If you have some funds and you’re looking to set something up or have the online piece set up for you, I would encourage you to have a professional do that. We have a service where we do that for people. A lot of them actually are musicians or other kind of artists. It’s for people who are already successful. They know they don’t want to learn how to become web developers come and designers. They just want that technology partner to help with that. You can learn more about that if you go to lifterlms.com/my-music-courses. That’s lifterlms.com/my-music-courses.

I’ll tell you a little bit more about that, but first let me just say I wish you all the best. There’s so much great musical talent out there, especially if you have a micro niche like something … I would encourage you to get really specific and make your offering very niche, like learn how to play Stairway to Heaven in the weekend or teach somebody how to play one song on the ukulele. These are great courses where it’s not necessarily like ukulele 101. They’re really targeted and specific. I think you’ll be more likely to get some early success than if you are general in nature. I wish you all the best in creating your online music courses. We will catch you in the next episode.