The mysteries of teaching music online

It started about 13 years ago, with an idea dreamed up by Andrew and a friend. Through a long north Idaho winter, Andrew drove 70 miles round trip on his days off teaching to film video and brainstorm ideas. As it has been through the years with artist and musician types, the ideas are the easy part and the follow through is often- boring? At the end of that winter, we had a hard drive of raw video and the idea still in our head. But- we soon were off in a different direction, packing up our kids and life into an RV for a new adventure - and the idea just sat there. Over the last 13 years, we’ve raised our family, moved several times, travelled extensively in the US- and watched as this scenario we envisioned become much more mainstream. And- finally, it seems to be our time again.

 What are we talking about? Online music courses, classes- video lessons as we thought of them 13 years ago, long before we learned the realities of teaching online basically overnight alongside thousands of other teachers in March of 2020. Like everyone, we were panicking about how to keep our business teaching 180 students at our music school in Texas, and we pivoted to online with very little idea how to do it. Our 6 teachers had our hands full, coaching kiddos and parents on how to set up their cameras and devices, figuring out how to send music and recordings as we couldn’t play together- and then at some point it dawned on us- are we starting to do that thing we talked about all those years ago? 

And yet, it still took another 3 years of continuing online teaching, refining our platforms and video recording technique, feeling comfortable in front of a camera and with our flow to finally feel that we’re ready to try this thing again! It didn’t help that we moved (again) in those 3 years, launched our 3 young adult sons, downsized the music school to about 1/3 the size it had been and just the 2 of us teaching- and completely downsized our life on every side. In the process, we’ve tested nearly every course-building product on the market, learned to edit video, website design and marketing- you could say that we’ve tried to take the boredom out of the process by chasing every rabbit that went by- and you’d be right! We often look at each other in exhaustion and say – “no wonder other musicians don’t do this!”

 It feels like our time has arrived. There are lots of people teaching piano courses, which is what I do. And I can’t compete with their big advertising budgets and slick editing. But I don’t need to have millions or even thousands of students. I’m happy with 50 or 100, or when I dream big- maybe 1000! Andrew is a fiddle teacher, and there aren’t as many of them. As for online courses from fiddle teachers, there are even fewer, and they tend to stay in their certain niche-maybe bluegrass, or contest fiddling, or Irish Fiddle. Andrew’s approach is about developing as a musician and mastering your instrument- whether you play with a band or in a jam session, or just for your own enjoyment at home. 

If you notice the dazed and glazed looks on our faces- that’s just our brains on overdrive, thinking about all the things we forgot to do, the lessons unsent or the sales funnel unfinished. This thing that’s supposed to set us free has taken over our lives, and right now, we’re just putting our heads down and trying to push through to some light. After all these years, our motto is- “If not now, WHEN?”


Stay Smiley,


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