By Nicole Douglas, owner of Nicole Douglas Music Studio
If I had to choose an action word to describe my life since March, it would be adapt. I won’t forget where I was when I got the text that the high school musical would be canceled and all previously purchased tickets were now void. It was supposed to be opening night. My heart ached for those students who had worked so hard and for those family members who were already on an airplane to see their grandchild or niece or nephew on stage. In two days’ time, I had to adapt to being a full-time homeschool parent, grief counselor, emergency preparedness overseer, and medical researcher. Then it was Monday and I had to figure out how to adapt to online teaching so my students could have something real to hang on to. (I’d taught online before when on vacation, but only with those students old enough to be more independent.) At times, it felt like there was just no possible way to adapt anymore.
And then I would hear about a teacher who tried a new tactic and how it worked. I’d hear about a student who started coming out of their shell. And so, I adapted some more.
The interesting thing about adapting is it can be empowering. It can show you what you’re made of—that you can make it through what you didn’t even recognize was possible before. So with reframing my thinking, I tried to think about how I could use my resources to make teaching (whether online or in-person) the best it’s ever been.
And that’s where Tonara Studio and Tonara Connect can be lifesavers. The lesson scheduling features can not only help teachers stay organized, they can empower students to use their practice time more effectively and take more responsibility for their learning. This doesn’t mean that they need teachers less—quite the opposite. This means we can take them farther than ever before because they are ready to progress.
How Scheduling in Tonara Studio Is Different
Setting up recurring lessons isn’t a new thing. That you can do with many programs. What’s nice about Tonara Studio is that there aren’t a lot of buttons to click. You can visit the calendar on the desktop version to schedule individual or group lessons, recitals, birthdays, and vacations (for any student or yourself). There is also an “other” event option. For non-lesson events, you can name them whatever you’d like and add as many students as you’d like from your drop-down list of student pictures. You can use the search bar within the event creation to quickly get to students on your roster. Each event has a place where you can write something only you want to see about the event.
For scheduling lessons, you can see your students’ pictures in the list, click on the one or more students you want to schedule, decide if you want to attach a Zoom or Google Hangouts Link (if you use a different online video software, you can also add those links after the lesson is created), type in a specific time or choose a standard time from the drop-down menu, decide if you want to set it up as a one-time lesson or a recurring lesson, and also specify location and price. (This last feature is currently just for your information. Soon, Tonara Studio will have a payments module where you can accept payments based on the prices you set when scheduling lessons.)
If you want to schedule lessons from your My Studio list, you can search and select the student’s picture, then visit the Personal Details and Lesson Details bars to set as many recurring or one-time lessons as you’d like. You can also create groups from My Studio and set up one-time or recurring lessons for as many students as you’d like to be in the group.
How Assignments in Tonara Studio Are Different
When I first learned about Tonara Studio, I thought there would be no way listing individual assignments would be worth my time or that the students would really use them. But I was wrong! Because it’s so easy to create an assignment and save it as a template for future students, it actually saves me time because it just takes two clicks to share it with the next student instead of having to type up full lesson notes. (I can also quickly edit instructions if I want it to be specific to the student.) With other programs I was using, students would have to rely on parents to print the email, or they’d have to have a link and the document app to view the notes, or they’d have to login to a website. With Tonara Studio, students just open the app and the list of assignments is right there.
Not only are students seeing and remembering the assignments better than ever before, but they can also easily access all videos, recordings, background tracks, images, and website links I want them to have access to for that specific assignment. No more “visit this app and do this” “visit this YouTube link and watch this” “visit this site to access sheet music”—it’s all attached to each assignment. Students are feeling empowered to have all the tools they need right there with a click.
And then there is lesson planning and looking at past lessons. It’s all right there for teachers to view. All past lessons show which assignments were assigned and which were completed. All future lessons give teachers the ability to pre-plan which assignments they want to have automatically show up for students when their next lesson time begins.
How Lesson Availability in Tonara Connect Is Different
And that’s just the lesson features in Tonara Studio. If teachers decide to advertise their availability on Tonara Connect, an online marketplace where students can select a teacher to start taking lessons from, new students can click on an exact day and time they’d like to have a lesson based on set days and times teachers specify. (Teachers and students can also discuss with each other via the chat section if that day or time needs to be moved before confirming the lesson.) Once a lesson is confirmed, if that teacher uses Tonara Studio, the lesson and the student will be automatically added into the Tonara Studio calendar and My Studio sections.
If teachers would like to let current students and parents know about their availability, they can send parents and students to their Tonara Connect profile and then they can chat with the teacher about what time and date the student would like to have. Teachers can edit this availability at any time.
I don’t think there is ever an endpoint to the concept of adapting. It is an ever-changing process. But we don’t have to do it alone. And with Tonara Studio and Tonara Connect, music teachers and students can take their lessons and practice to the next level—what seemed unrealistic before is now possible.
How have you adapted? We’d love to hear what has helped you! Join our Tonara Teachers Facebook group “Tonara Focus” and let us know!