Musicians around the world had no choice but to take their teaching online when the pandemic hit last year. They learned the basics virtually overnight, dove in, and started counting down the minutes until they could “return to normal.”
But after 13 months of it, teachers and students (and parents!) alike have embraced the benefits of the online platform and are looking for ways to continue this current format. The problem, of course, is that to make an online teaching studio really something, can involve a lot of scary tech – from housing video libraries to creating full-on work-at-your-own-pace courses (brilliant for adult beginners!) to having a members’ login, etc.
It’s enough to make one re-think their ideas.
Enter Jaime Slutzky!
With a background in tech, and a passion for arts education (thanks to 2 extremely creative and talented daughters) Jaime started her own company called the Tech of Business Agency, a technology strategy and implementation agency for artists. In other words. You dream up the brilliant idea, and she makes it happen. While there are tons of ways you can work with her, she’s hosting an incredible summit on all things “Online Music Teaching” in early May, called the Expand Online Summit
She’s bringing together 15 experts to speak on various topics like setting up a new business model, social media for recruiting students, running an online music festival (that’s yours truly!), and how to increase profits in your teaching studio.
Since technology is something that many musicians (certainly not all! but…let’s face it, many) are terrified of, I thought I would bring Jaime in to answer a few questions about what she does and why she loves working with musicians in particular.
TFTL: Jaime, can you start by telling us where you live, and what do you love most about it?
JS: Redmond Washington. The Northwest is such a gorgeous place to be, I love the water and the mountains. Love driving down the freeway and seeing Mt. Rainier in the distance on clear days.
TFTL: How did you get started in tech?
JS: I’ve always loved computers and technology. I earned my BS in Computer Science from McGill University in 1999 and just kept going with computers and technology from that time.
TFTL: What made you want to work with musicians?
JS: I love working with clients who provide an opportunity for their students/patrons/clients to grow. And after working with a lot of people, I found that my favorite clients were music teachers, so I decided to focus on serving this group.
TFTL: When you’ve worked with musicians to help them set up their tech platforms, what skills do they bring to the table that they might not be aware of?
JS: Clarity and determination. Learning and mastering a musical instrument takes determination which is a huge asset when building something online. If you’re determined to succeed, you’re not going to let roadblocks become barriers. And when you’re clear about what you want to create, it’s easy for me to help you translate that vision into something that can be delivered online.
TFTL: Where do you find most musicians lacking, in terms of moving online?
JS: They are lacking confidence that their online program or lesson can be as effective as in-person programming can be.
TFTL: Where do you think online learning is headed in the next 5-10 years?
JS: More niches — I think you’re going to have a teacher who specializes in a subset of a subset for a subset of the population. And music teachers are so creative, so I think boundaries are going to be pushed as far as how they are going to show up. I also think that some of the Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality tech is going to become available to music teachers which will further students’ opportunities.
TFTL: How do you suggest musicians break through “the noise” online?
JS: The million-dollar question, right? Seriously, it’s about knowing who you want to attract as much as who you want to repel, what you want to be known for, and what lights you up. Then comes consistency and conversation. Post consistently and engage with people who show interest in your posts. And don’t be afraid to reach out to others.
TFTL: Are you surprised at where your career has brought you? Or was it all part of your master plan?
JS: I never really had a master plan. I really wanted to be home to raise my kids, so that part of things has absolutely worked out. But as far as building out learning management platforms for music teachers, it makes sense but it could have been something else entirely. I’m happy with what I’m doing and where this journey has taken me so far.
TFTL: Why have you put this summit together, and who is it for?
JS: I love collaboration and live by the saying “A rising tide lifts all boats.” So, a summit is a perfect vehicle for this, since the summit is a collective effort. I want more music educators to expand online and stay online long after the pandemic. Online affords so many opportunities and is a gift to both student and teacher. I want to provide a pathway forward from what 2020 threw at us into something that is long-term and sustainable. The summit is specifically for established music teachers and studio owners who want to keep offering online programming, either as the entire offering or as another branch to their in-person offers.
TFTL: What is the most brilliant online learning idea you’ve seen?
Cohorting. I have a client who has a 40 week, comprehensive program. The program can be entirely self-paced, new material drops every two weeks. A couple of years ago, she added a cohort element to the program to provide feedback, accountability, and community for her participants. Students stay motivated and keep coming back to continue their learning. She teaches the bass.
TFTL: If you could be a professional musician, which instrument would you play?
I have never thought about that — guitar maybe, because I remember back to my summer camp days when we would just sit around and someone would strum a guitar and someone else would sing. Those are some great memories!
TFTL: What would you consider a successful summit?
JS: I have a registration goal of 1000 and a participation goal of at least 25% of registrants watching at least 75% of the sessions.
TFTL: Will you be doing the Expand Online Summit in 2022 and what do you think you’ll focus on?
JS: That’s the plan, I want this to be an annual event because we should always keep on learning! Right now, I’m thinking it’s going to focus on the student experience, but things may change.
TFTL: How can people find you?
Thanks so much, Jaime!
And of course, you can all join the party over at the Expand Online Summit happening May 3-7, 2021! Click HERE for your free ticket!