successul music tech lessons teacher midnight music


Things I’ve learnt….

Over the years, I’ve discovered a few ways to ensure the smooth running of lessons, workshops and presentations that involve technology.

One of the biggest fears about technology is that things will go wrong – and they definitely can do.  It’s happened to me MANY times, but I’ve developed a few methods for either avoiding disaster in the first place, or heading it off at the pass!

Below I share a few of my tips for success.

– Katie Wardrobe

Planning the Lesson

Planning and practice

  • Plan the lesson: broad outline, smaller details, decide software/apps
  • Prepare a Running Sheet (see below!)
  • Check ALL websites, apps and software just before the day of the lesson (even the ones you’ve used hundreds of times).  Things change quickly and sometimes websites disappear altogether!
  • Do a quick run-through of the tech part of the lesson if you can – especially if it’s your first time doing the lesson
  • ALWAYS HAVE A CONTINGENCY PLAN in case the internet is down the day of the lesson, or the software does not work that day (it happens!)

Using Keynote/Powerpoint files

  • If your lesson content is in Keynote/Powerpoint, make sure you have all multimedia in the file itself (ie. audio and video files). Download Youtube videos ahead of the session and put into presentation file
  • Use a template so that all slides are consistent design-wise. You will also save time because you can reuse the template many times
  • Slides: not too much text! (if any). Images are good!

Running sheet

  • I find it super-helpful to use a running sheet when presenting. It’s an outline of the things I will cover, in the order I will do them.  Headings and bullet points…
  • Write down your loop choices or instrument choices etc on the running sheet so you’re not fumbling around during the lesson itself
  • If you’re demonstrating how to record something in an app or software program, decide what that will be ahead of time (notate it if you have to or write down chord sequence!)
  • It can be REALLY useful to have files prepared ahead of time that are in “stages” – half-done, three-quarters done etc so you can jump ahead to show students what to do next

Links, notes and other resources for students

  • Save all links to websites and videos somewhere handy: on a web page or in a Google Doc so that students can click on a link instead of you having to read out URLs during the lesson
  • If you’re using iPads or Smartphones, you can create QR codes for links. Students can scan the code and it will take them straight to the website/online video
  • Prepare an overview of what you want students to do with the app/software but don’t go into too much detail (unless you’re working with very young students).  Empower older students to look for software/app instructions themselves
  • Upload the notes somewhere and share the link (a website, Dropbox, Google Drive)

On the Day of the Lesson

Set-up checklist

If you have a chance, open up everything you’ll need during the lesson.  

It saves you and the students sitting through loading times and ensures quick turnaround between activities.

  • Make sure you’re on wifi – and double-check it’s working!
  • Plug your laptop or iPad directly into the HDMI or VGA cable on the data projector. ALWAYS plug in, don’t use Airplay if you’re showing creative music software/apps (there is a lag – known as latency – if you use Airplay or similar).  If using HDMI, plug the audio cable in as well to avoid latency issues – don’t let your IT person try to tell you otherwise! Open Keynote/Powerpoint if using
  • Open any software programs you will be using
  • Open all websites you will be using on separate tabs (use Chrome for music website!)
  • Log into websites if necessary
  • Load Youtube videos and pause them until needed

During the Lesson

  • If a website doesn’t load, first check that your wifi is working. If it still won’t load, check the website status on Down For Everyone? (enter the URL and click on “or just me”). That will tell you if the website is down for everyone and not just you (in which case there is not much you can do)
  • If your software program is simply not working as expected, restart the program
  • If your software program is still not working as expected after restarting the program, restart your computer (yes, really)
  • If your sound is not working, check the volume level on your laptop or iPad (yes, really – happens to me all the time…!)
  • If the volume level is still not working, check the volume level of the speakers/audio system
  • If the volume level is still not working, check the volume level within the app itself (if applicable). Some apps have their own volume level and if your device speakers are turned up, but the app volume is down it may not make any sound

If things are simply not working that day, USE THE CONTINGENCY PLAN you organised earlier (you have one of those, don’t you?!).

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Looking for even more music technology tips for teaching your students?

Hello! I’m Katie Wardrobe – an Australian music technology trainer and consultant with a passion for helping music teachers through my business Midnight Music.

I’m a qualified teacher but no, I don’t currently teach in a school. I help teachers through my online professional development space – the Midnight Music Community – where there are tutorial videos, courses, links and downloadable resources.

I like to focus on easy ways to incorporate technology into what you are already doing in your music curriculum through a range of creative projects.  I also run live workshops and have presented at countless conferences and other music education events.

If you want simple, effective ideas for using technology in music education, I would LOVE to help you inside the Midnight Music Community.

Learn more and take a sneak peek inside!