Lockdown is transforming the way music teachers deliver instrument tuition now and in the future, with 87% currently adapting their lessons for delivery online.
Many learners have progressed better with music tuition online than would have been expected in normal face-to-face teaching, according to feedback from instrumental teachers and examiners. This level of progress among young people can in part be attributed to better relationships between teachers and parents. By getting more involved with their children’s music lessons, parents have developed a better understanding of their value. They have also been supporting young learners when practising their instruments.
But serious challenges remain as the country emerges from lockdown. Poor broadband, the availability of instruments among learners from disadvantaged backgrounds and job insecurity among music teachers will all be issues that remain to be tackled.
These observations were made in the Teacher Voices Survey by music education organisation ABRSM, the world’s leading provider of music exams which assesses more than 600,000 candidates in over 90 countries every year. 300 customers and examiners who work as instrumental music teachers in the UK were asked their views as part of evidence submitted Education and DCMS Select Committee inquiries into the impact of Covid-19.
One teacher told the survey: “I have received numerous emails from parents mentioning that it has really helped to have some normality in their child’s life and they are very grateful for this opportunity.”
Other findings included:
- 9 out of 10 examiners and teachers said they been able to effectively adapt to online teaching,
- Intermittent internet access in some areas, and poor-quality audio from video conferencing software, were reported by 41% of teachers
- Finding a quiet place in which to have their lesson undisturbed was a problem for some learners
- Some teachers have been unable to continue teaching at all and will be relying on government financial support schemes until face to face lessons can resume.
The forced distancing caused by the pandemic has inspired permanent changes in the way many teachers give lessons. Another respondent said: “I'm glad this has given me the opportunity to get used to [online teaching] … I will continue to offer both face-to-face and online lessons after lockdown.”
ABRSM is urging the UK government to widen 4G access and extend the Self Employment Income Support Scheme as part of a seven-point plan to address challenges highlighted by the survey. They are also calling for proper guidance on how music groups can return to face to face rehearsals and performances as the lockdown eases, and encouragement for schools to re-establish extra-curricular activities as soon as it is safe to do so. Research is needed, they say, into lessons that can be learned from the lockdown about how to engage with parents more effectively in future, and best practice in the use of technology in music education should be embedded into the next National Plan for Music Education.
ABRSM Chief Executive Michael Elliott said: “Lockdown is having some positive effects on music education in the UK. It has shown the adaptability of our music teaching colleagues and suggests that music pupils are devoting some of their extra spare time to practice and making greater than expected progress as a result… It is also inspiring a change in the way in which parents engage with their child’s education and this is really encouraging. We must seize the opportunities these developments present and, more broadly, work as a sector with government to better understand how technology can be successfully used to provide access to music tuition.”