How to Teach Music Theory Online


Staff book

Do you teach music theory and want to know how you can take your training online?  Do you want advice from an industry professional with years of experience teaching online? Then this is the article for you.

You can teach Music Theory online by changing your existing content to be full digital and then hosting it on your own website or with many of the third party training websites. You can also teach it live online through web conference software like Zoom or Webex and schedule regular classes.

Here is what we will cover to get your started teaching Music Theory online:

  • Designing the Course Outline
    • Course Title
    • Audience
    • Course Content
    • Learning Outcomes
    • Pricing 
  • What Equipment Will You Need
    • Hardware
    • Software
  • Hosting Your Classes
  • Running Live Classes
  • Teaching Resources

Now that you know what the major topics are let’s dig into the specifics of what you will need.

Designing The Course Outline

The first step you must take is to outline your course.   Like with any training course you need to know your audience and what they want as a learning outcome. 

When teaching online you also need to know how to market your course using SEO and that starts with the Title.  We will discuss this and more in the sections below. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization or just making sure your course lists first in Google Searches.

Course Title

You need to design your course title with that in mind a catchy and interesting title that works with SEO so you should think about these details:

  • Less than 60 characters – google only shows this many in search results.
  • Audience Focused – think of the level of your students.
  • Specific – narrow down the niche
  • Entice the Students – catchy marketing name
  • Using SEO keywords – using the google alphabet soup or keyword research methods

You can help yourself with the next article:

ARTICLE: How to Choose a Catchy Name for Your Course 

Audience

You need to decide the target audience for your classes for you to determine not only the expected base knowledge of the students but also the level of the sessions and who to market the course too.

Some of the target market characteristics can be:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Geographic location
  • Prerequisites (educational background)
  • Learning style
  • Language, Literacy, and Numeracy (LLN) skills
  • Job type

Course Content

By deciding your topics you are organizing your students learning path. You need to limit and adapt the complexity of the topics depending on the target audience.  While you may know this already you have to think how you could adapt your existing content to online delivery.

Here are some topics you may consider:

  • Basic notation
  • Meter
  • Proto Notation
  • Rhythmic values
  • Beams and borrowed divisions
  • Pitch
  • Scales and scale degrees
  • Key signatures
  • Intervals
  • Triads and seventh chords
  • Types of motion

You can display this content in many ways online and it is a good idea to vary the content types and delivery methods to increase student engagement.

Here are some content types you could use:

  • Text (written material)
  • Graphics (Visual material, mostly figures and photos)
  • Audio (Mostly recorded audios)
  • Video (Audiovisual material like movies)
  • Interactive (Materials that allow the student to interact with the content like games)
  • Offline (Mostly assignments)

For more information about this subject I recommend you read this article:

ARTICLE: The Ultimate Guide to eLearning Content Types 

Pricing 

If you are looking at selling your course online there are a few things you may need to consider to get your pricing right.  People generally expect to pay less when they learn online so you need to think about this.  

Most people break big courses into price sized bundles and this way can cater for this price difference.  If you are not looking at charging for your course then you can skip this section.

Things to consider when pricing your course:

  • Target Market
  • Competition Pricing
  • Your Time (Hourly Rate)
  • Course Costs
    • Content Creation 
    • Course Hosting
    • Software Licenses
    • Hardware Purchases
  • Target Profit 
  • Specialty Level

There are many ways to price your course as well and this article will show you them all.

ARTICLE:10 eLearning Pricing Models Online Teachers Must Know 

What Setup Will You Need?

After defining your course outline it is time to create training content for your students.  You have to make sure you have the right equipment to make and deliver your training.

Here is the usual usual equipment you will need:

  • Hardware
    • Laptop
    • Video 
    • Audio
  • Software
    • Video Editing
    • Audio Editing

Hardware

Your hardware requirements will depend on what you are teaching and certain software may require more than what we have below.  This is just a starting point for you and you can add to it as you see fit.

Laptop

This is the most vital piece of hardware that you need. With it you will create and edit content, conducting online classes and interact with the Learning Management System (LMS).

Any computer less than 4 years old of around $500 will do wonders for you.  For most training online an i3 or i5 Intel processor with 4gig of RAM with a solid-state disk (SSD) or 8 gigs so RAM with an older style hard drive is more than enough.

If you want to use complex software solutions you might want to opt for the second option (i5 and 8 gigs of RAM). However, the first option is just great for basic online teaching activities.

Video

Even though some laptops have an integrated camera it is better to add a webcam into your budget.  It will be well worth the month and you can check which one I use and recommend in my Recommended Tools page on this site.

I recommend you a webcam with at least these characteristics:

  • Resolution (at least 1920x1080p)
  • Frames per second (at least 60 fps)

NOTE: The one I recommend above I actually use for my classes and won’t put you out of pocket much.

Audio

While there is a lot of importance placed on your video recording and screaming hardware the audio for recording and live streaming is just as important.  The equipment is quite cheap these days so it is just important to know just what to get instead.

Key features you are looking for are:

  • Noise Cancelling Headset
  • Directional Microphone
  • Volume and Mute Controls

The Rhode NT USB and the Blue Yeti Snowball are the best in class for on desk microphones as a decent price.  Jabra and Logitech make great headset style ones for you to use.

If you want to see the ones I use and recommend check out my recommended tools page:

LINK: Recommended Tools

Software

So now you have the hardware you will need the software to edit your training content.  Your video hardware will come with recording software but you will most likely need to do some editing on your audio and video.  If you are creating an eLearning package you may also need to bundle it together as well.

Video Editing Tools

Once you have recorded your video you will most likely need to do some post production.  That in simple terms just means you may need to do some editing of your video.  

Here are a few tools you could use to do just that:

Audio Recording Software

If you are anything like me you use to many ummms, arghs and other non words in your speaking and will need to do some quick editing of your audio recordings.

Here are some popular packages you can use to do that:

Here is an article I created on how I fix up my audio using Audacity above:

ARTICLE: Editing Audio : Sound Like A Pro In A Screencast

Hosting Your Classes

Once you have your eLearning content created you will want to host it somewhere online for yoru students.  At this point you have two main options.  You can make a website of your own using a Learning Management System (LMS) or you could host with a third party website.

Third party websites come in two different forms.  The first are ones where you can just host your course on their website like Udemy and Skillshare.  The second type is where they host and manage their Learning Management System for you as a package.

If you want to know more about LMS then check out this article:

ARTICLE: What are the features of a Learning Management System?

Here are some of the LMS you can have a look at:

If you don’t want to manage your own website and just want to host your course then have a look at the third party options below.  Keep in mind each one has different pricing models meaning you only get a fraction of the course sale cost.  

In the case of Skillshare you only get paid on the hours watched by premium members.  They will also control discounting as well.  Udemy does this constantly and no-one ever pays full price for a course.  People actually list courses as inflated prices knowing they will get discounted.

Some popular third-party teaching platforms are:

Running Live Classes

There are many ways you can run online classes and we will discuss some of these below.  They provide the best interaction for students and allow teachers and trainers to watch body languages and talk directly with a single student or a whole class.  The most common way is to use Web Conference tools and we will discuss some of these below.

Live Meeting Tools

To meet your students in a live video conference you can use heaps of online tools. Some require a paid subscription, while for most of them you only need to register with a valid email address.

Some of the most known tools you can use to take part in video calls with your students are:

Here are some other useful articles about teaching online you might like:

ARTICLE: How To Teach LIVE Online

ARTICLE: Teaching Live Online: The Pros and Cons

ARTICLE: 15 Practical Tips for Teaching your First Online Class

Teaching Resources

Below you will find some resources that may help you with creating your own online training content for your students or to use as resources for them.

Colourful Keys

https://colourfulkeys.ie/music-theory/

Helpful resources categorized by topic and heaps of them.

Hello Music Theory

https://hellomusictheory.com/learn/resources/

Another very useful site with training both free and paid as well as suggestions on Youtube channels, mobile apps, exams, worksheets and podcasts.

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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