145: Online Group Art and Music Programs

On today’s episode I discuss online group programs and why they are the best online format for art and music instruction online in 2021. I believe that your programs will be much more accessible for your students and much more profitable for you when done right.

Online group programs are a little bit of a misnomer because there are so many things that can fall into general label of “programs.”

We are specifically talking about programs that are a hybrid of live interactive sessions and asynchronous pre-recorded material so that your students truly connect with you as their instructor and connect with your content to move their art form forward.

It is no longer enough to just create online courses anymore. The internet is saturated with them. And in order for us to have the impact that we seek, we need to have that human connection through the screen (which is 100% absolutely possible!)

While there are always two complimentary sides to a group program, the length of the program is completely up to you. I recommend a minimum of 4 weeks and a maximum of 12 or possibly 16 weeks. This is for logistics and feasibility. Not to mention goals.

We want to make sure that every single person who takes one of our online programs achieves their goals (when they put in the effort to show up and do the work.)

Now, let’s discuss what goes into an online group program that is different than a membership site, or an online course or one-on-one private instruction.

A group program is exactly that… it is for multiple people to be going through the program together as a cohort. This allows for community to form, interaction to take place and for everybody to improve their skills all together.

The best group programs consist of pre-recorded content where you teach, handouts and exercises and assignments. We use all the best parts of online courses but then we go on top of that and layer on weekly or bi-weekly live sessions.

The live sessions are generally held over Zoom or Google Meet. The purpose of these sessions is to create that sense of community, to help correct (in real time) any issues, to observe your students, to create a sacred space for your students to practice and to perform for their peers. And, of course, to continually improve.

A group program in a nutshell is pre-recorded content with regular live touch base calls between the students and yourself. Most of the time group programs will also include some kind of forum so that students can connect with one another outside of the live sessions. Because, again, we want to make them feel connected to one another.

Online group programs are ideal for art and music education. Let’s put it into perspective… When we teach one-on-one live sessions, whether in person or virtual, it is just the teacher and the student and it’s generally an individual lesson without a clear trajectory. It’s much more ebb and flow. Whereas with a group program, you, as the instructor, have created the trajectory – the journey – that your students are going to be on at the outset. We are able to march them through all the things that they need in order to achieve the goal. There is a whole lot more structure to group programs while still allowing for improvisation and the ability for things to bubble up that might not have been expected but are equally important to the journey and progress of our students.

With one-on-one we could end up taking a left turn and never righting ourselves.

Be sure to look back at episode 142 for a ton of information regarding membership sites. The goal of a membership site is continual education, continual improvement. It is pick and choose what you want to learn and when you want to learn it. Now in contrast to the group program, which is that trajectory of “from here to there” with specific goals in mind. While I believe that a membership program is fabulous, often times, students are going to have greater success when they have the group program and the structure and the cohort and the access to you.

Now, a group program versus an online course… a group program, in my opinion, is an augmentation of an online course. Whatever you can put into an online course, you can a more cohesive, more unified experience as a group program. Our content is going to live in an online course delivery platform, like Thinkific.

With an online course, it’s self-paced, diy, when-I-have-time whereas a group program has structure — with a start date, live sessions, check ins, a community and most of all, it helps your student get from point A to point B on a specific path.

I know that with music and with art… it is not a matter of just getting through all the content.

  • It is a matter of creating time to practice.
  • It is a matter of getting feedback and critiques.
  • It is creating space for analysis and reflection.

And these are super straightforward to include in online group programs.

Now, let’s talk about enrolling your students. With an online group program, you have a deliberate sales cycle. When there is a start date, it’s easy to see when the selling period is going to be. And then, once the program has started, you don’t need to be in “sales mode” and you can be truly present with and for your students.

With courses, membership sites and even one-on-one our door is essentially always open, so we need to be wearing two hats — our sales/marketing hat and our instructor/teacher hat. Now, wouldn’t you rather wear one hat at a time as often as possible?

My philosophy is that it doesn’t matter which mode of delivery you’re going to use, you must go all in to get out what you seek. If you waiver, your students aren’t going to know which way to proceed — they won’t know what the best option is for them. When you have just a single offer, you get to tell them the best way you believe for them to reach their goals.

All this is to say — the year 2021 is right around the corner. And I think it is the year for online group programs in art and music to absolutely explode. I know that you have it in you to run successful online group programs. I would be honored to help you along the way. Go to http://callwithjaime.com and book a complimentary 10-minute power session with me. We will jam on whatever you’re working on – strategy, tech or otherwise.

Connect with me on InstagramFacebook and inside the Expand Online Community.

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