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How to Have Fun Teaching on Zoom: Tips for Teachers

This article is a special summary for the American Federation of Musicians monthly newletter, "UpBeat". For full video tutorials, pictures, and more information, visit my blog series at

It’s been a year since the world turned upside down. Fortunately, music teachers around the world have come together to support one another in this new era of online teaching. I’ve made a short series of blog posts to make virtual teaching a bit more friendly and fun.

The Virtual Whiteboard

One of my favorite tricks is using the Zoom virtual whiteboard. In the past, I would draw on my studio whiteboard and you'd see that my artistic capabilities don't extend beyond music. With the drawing tools, I can create introduce complicated music theory and even create worksheets to share with my students. I can even share the drawing as a PDF and the students can print it at home. Below is when I introduced my Suzuki Book 4 student to subdivision in 6/8.

Young children often struggle with having a full day of online school and then a virtual lesson. I found new ways to capture their attention and it was a big hit! Instead of singing the parts of the bow song, I decided that we would draw a bow together and label the parts. My PreTwinkler absolutely adored this change of pace and his smile made my day! (Though, please excuse my incorrect spelling of, "eyelet")

Annotating & Stamps

In most studio lessons, I'd help my students by writing notes and reminders directly into their sheet music. With virtual lessons, students are independent and in charge of taking their own notes. However, it doesn't mean that I can't help. I scanned my sheet music onto my computer and use the Zoom screen share and annotation tool to point out notes and draw in bowings. Many of my students text me a picture of their own sheet music before we begin our lesson so it's even easier for them to find their place. This tool has been invaluable!

With this book 4 student, we needed to remember to add vibrato to important notes. I used the heart stamp and put a twist on it: "Give some love to these notes!" We got such a good laugh out of it and she played the section beautifully.


Want to add some more fun to your lessons? Use Zoom's Reactions feature. Reactions will show up as a tiny button on your video screen. You can applaud, give thumbs up, hearts, celebrate with a confetti, and more. The reaction will only stay up for a few seconds. It's fun in group settings, especially when applause would cover the sound of one speaker. Students are well-versed in reactions and really enjoy when we use them.

Filters, & Virtual Backgrounds

If you click the tiny arrow next to “Stop Video,” a dropdown menu will appear with the option to add filters and virtual backgrounds. You can teach Mozart from on top of the moon, Bach on the beach, or transform yourself into a silly animal to teach “The Happy Farmer”. When one of my students is having a rough day, I go straight to these features to turn their frown upside down.

Do you have any fun tips for teaching via Zoom? Comment below or use the contact page to email me.

Happy practicing!

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