Disclaimer: This blog post is based on my experiences and opinions and does not constitute legal advice. If you have questions regarding privacy and telehealth, please consult your lawyer.
What do online classes look like? Would they work for me or my child? I’ve heard some scary things about Zoom. How do you make sure that online classes and sessions are safe?
I use zoom for my preschool music classes because the school I work with was already using it for some services, I was somewhat familiar with the platform, and it has the most functionality for audio. I’m also teaching music exploration classes, instead of true therapy sessions so HIPAA compliance is not as important. The professional version of Zoom is cost prohibitive for a small practice such as mine.
As a music therapist, decent audio is very important. All video conferencing platforms utilize a lot of compression as well as noise cancelling which isn’t great for music. Zoom allows for using an external mic as well as turning noise cancelling off.
Several other video conferencing platforms allow for screen sharing. This great for sharing power points of fingerplays. It’s a more effective alternative to flannel boards. For my classes, I make sure that I am the only one who can screen share. It helps prevent anyone from posting objectionable material.
I also make sure that I turn off file sharing in chat. I recommend locking the meeting after you start. In addition, it is best to avoid publicly posting links to your meeting.
What are some other platforms? While there are a number out there, the ones I am most familiar with are doxy.me, theranest, and google meet. While social media might work for lessons, it’s a no no for healthcare, even under the adjusted CMS guidelines.
The biggest difficulty for online musicking is dealing with lag in addition to the previously mentioned sound issues. Generally, I keep the other participants muted when we are playing together. Depending on the size of the group, it might work to take turns being the leader. The format that has worked best for me is to include lots of movement, share an instrument spotlight and then to wrap up with some self-regulation strategies. My in-person classes have a similar structure which I think has helped with a sense of familiarity.
While this has been a difficult time for everyone, I am thankful to be able to teach online classes. The music therapy community has also been very generous in sharing what works and what doesn’t. I will be happy when it’s time to get back to teaching and providing services in person. However, I think this will open up new ways of providing music therapy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more platforms developed for providing online concerts and playing music together.
Any questions? Feel free to drop me a line!