With the COVID-19 outbreak, universities worldwide have moved towards online learning or distance education. Despite pioneering work by distance learning institutions globally, the digital platform remains unexplored, particularly for online music teaching and learning. Face-to-face teaching for practical based subjects is challenging due to COVID-19 protocols.
Online teaching and learning tools are being designed in response to curriculum, programme delivery, and assessment. Music educators are entrusted with finding creative ways to address their unique challenges. This study examines whether online music programmes address the unique challenges of music students. The music department of a leading South African university of technology is the case study where the teaching model is being digitalised to combat online learning challenges. A SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely), stepwise, online lessons programme was designed to facilitate instrumental teaching during university closures and lockdowns.
The programme piloted in 2019 and was adapted according to stakeholder (students, teachers, curriculum experts) analysis. This programme provided insight on learning preferences, teaching techniques, assessment methods, online platform preferences, infrastructural availability, and challenges.
Results highlighted the improvement in success rate, peer learning, self-evaluation, self-learning, and student engagement. The results prompted the researcher to use this programme to provide online instrumental lessons to university music students. Due to its synchronous and asynchronous online instrument teaching approach, this programme transforms students’ learning experience using digital technology and 4IR underpinnings. The programme can serve as a template for other practical subjects within various disciplines.