Distance Learning for Music Educators with Shawna Longo

Transitioning from a “traditional” music classroom to a digital one can seem like a daunting task!  There are SO many resources out there and you may be wondering, “Where do I even begin?”  It may also seem like everything we experienced growing up in music classes and everything that we were taught in college will be null and void.  But, that’s not really the case. 

Digital or distance learning provides us with an opportunity to increase the technology that we use in our classrooms.  You aren’t changing what you teach.  You’re just approaching the same skills and knowledge in a different manner.  Digital Learning can also allow us to make a deeper connection with our students, while giving them a deeper connection to the content.  You may even find that your students are more excited to practice and learn using technology!  And, speaking of practicing – think concept or skill-based practice versus amount of time.

A couple of thoughts – Start small.  Don’t assign ten different, unrelated digital activities to your students all at once.  Make a plan.  Prioritize.  Make a list of the main concepts/activities you want or need to cover with your students.  One suggestion is to use the four main areas in our standards: Create, Perform/Present/Produce, Respond, and Connect.  Make it Digital – Take each item on your list and work through determining how you could gather data or assess whether or not your students are learning each concept/activity.   If you use Google Classroom, could you have them write about it in a Google Doc?  Complete a quick Google Form as a quiz?  Record themselves (audio and/or video) and post it to an assignment in your Google Classroom?  Another added bonus – you are gathering authentic data and essentially creating digital portfolios of your students’ work and progress!

So…where do I start? 

First, take a deep breath!  There is PLENTY of support out there to help you through this process.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to colleagues that have experience with distance learning (including myself!).  I feel confident saying that most, if not all, will be willing to help!

Second, don’t forget just how tech savvy our students are…regardless of their age!  My students have taught me many tech-related concepts and short cuts over the years.  Be honest with them, especially if they are in middle school or high school…trust me, if you’ve never really used tech with them, they already know what you are or are not comfortable with! 😉



Shawna Longo
Arts Integration Specialist, STEAM Consultant, Music Educator

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