Making the Most of Your Online Classes

One of the things that has happened this year is the shift to everything online – work, meetings, even weddings – and this is no different for dance and music classes. On one hand, this opened up access to a lot of people who didn’t have the time before or maybe didn’t have the option to take the classes they wanted available, where they lived. On the other hand, online classes do not come without their limitations, space being a huge one and a lack of in-person guidance or correction being another. 


For those of you who have been frustrated with your online classes (or even those who haven’t), here’s how you can make the most of them!

  1. Space: This one might seem obvious, but if you’re taking a dance class online, ensure that you create enough space for yourself. You could consider rearranging your furniture to ensure that you have enough space to move around a little bit. Ensure that your camera is set up so that your teacher can see you fully. If this is not possible, you might have to keep changing your camera angle, depending on what your class is focusing on, on a given day. For music classes, ensure that you have a dedicated space (maybe even a table in a particular spot) that you associate with as being your singing/playing space. Try to pick a spot where you can have some privacy so that you’re able to sing without hesitation. 
  2. Lighting: If you want your teacher to be able to give you feedback, s/he needs to be able to see you properly. Make sure that the light shines in front of you and not behind you. If the light is behind you, your teacher will only be able to see you as a silhouette, which can make spotting mistakes more difficult. You could buy a small table lamp, in case the lights in your house are not set up like this. 
  3. Try and minimize interruptions: This is one of the biggest disadvantages of learning from home. There can be a lot of interruptions from parents, children, the doorbell etc. If you live with other people, inform them beforehand that you have a class so that you can minimize the interruptions. If your child is the one taking classes, ensure that they know that they have to focus, like in a physical class, and not get distracted during the time that is allotted for a particular class. For this, you (or your child) will need to approach an online class with the same seriousness as you would a dance studio or music class. 
  4. Live Class vs. Tutorials: Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and you need to pick what might suit your needs best. In live classes, you can get immediate feedback on your work and can also ask questions, watch others and interact. This might be the closest you can get to a physical class. However, with tutorials, you can do the class whenever it is convenient for you. And if you’re shy to perform in front of others, you can still learn your artform in privacy by watching a video, until you’re confident enough. 
  5. Having the right equipment: For a bigger screen, a laptop might be best, but even phones can do the trick. Some people connect their phones/laptops to a tv screen, which might make it easier to follow along. In case either option is difficult, you could consider investing in a tripod or a gorilla tripod (a tripod with flexible legs that can be fitted in most spaces) with a phone clip to set your camera up in the most ideal way. Online stores offer a variety of inexpensive ones. Also consider using a speaker or wireless earphones, so that you’re not straining to hear what is being said or taught. 
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Your teachers will understand that this is a difficult time, so don’t hesitate to ask them to explain things if you didn’t understand them the first time. In a group class, if you’re worried about taking time away from the rest of the class, you could wait and ask them privately at the end. Some teachers might even be willing to send videos, explaining in detail, so definitely do ask if that is a possibility. If that doesn’t work, you could ask them to direct you to YouTube videos that might help. 
  7. Dress for the class: It can be very easy to slack off online, but if you’re taking a dance class, it might help to dress for the dance form you’re taking – nothing elaborate, but at least how you might have for a physical class. It can make it easier to immerse yourself in the class if you dress and feel like you’re in the class. For a music class, it might help to dress up neatly and get out of your pyjamas at least for that hour. 
  8. Do warm up beforehand and cool down after: For both, music and dance classes, you can use the time you’ve saved on travelling to a physical class to do a bit more of a comprehensive warm up to make sure you’re absolutely ready for class. The same goes for cooling down – a good cooldown can make you feel relaxed after a class and can help prevent injuries and soreness.
  9. Online Etiquette: Do keep yourself on mute, unless you’re speaking, so that the background noises are not distracting for others in the class. Try not to use a virtual background, these can be very distracting and your teacher may not be able to see you properly. If you do want to use a virtual background for privacy reasons, it can work better if you put up a makeshift greenscreen behind first. Do try and be patient with your teacher, as they should also be with you. Communication can help avoid a lot of pent up frustration and ensure that both sides are able to make the most of classes. 
  10. Test your setup before your first class: You could open up your camera and check the background and the limits of your space the day before. You could get a friend on the call and see if you can hear/see each other from close by and a bit further away. You could also try different views on your online app – you could pin your teacher’s video, so you get a larger view and can follow along better.

We hope these tips help you get the most out of your classes! Remember, patience and communication are key. You should be able to trust your teacher and communicate any limitations or frustrations related to class and they might be able to work with you to find a solution. Do you have anything else that helped you? Or any concerns we haven’t addressed? Do comment below and let us know! 

Anu Bhaskararaman

Anu Bhaskararaman