The Internet has changed the way we learn. Want to build a guitar from a cigar box? No problem. Get clever with your coffee? Easy-peasy. Build an awesome LEGO car? Just listen to the master. Yes, you can even learn to play an instrument via the World Wide Web.
There is a growing community of music teachers who make their video lessons available for free via YouTube and other video hosting sites. Though “canned” lesson videos have value, they are not always the right tool for the job. Most students find that the benefits of in-person lessons far outweigh the conveniences of pre-recorded video lessons.
However, this does not mean that you are limited to taking lessons from your local pool of instrument experts. Back in the olden days, an aspiring student would learn to play under the tutelage of a relative, neighbor, family friend, or community “expert” endorsed by the local music store. Geography was the limiting factor. No more! Thanks to high speed internet and video conferencing applications like Skype and Google Hangouts, students can literally choose from a world of music instructors and have a live, private music lesson no matter where they are… living room, beach, or hotel!
Live video lessons have some benefits and challenges. They should be considered when deciding if live video lessons are a fit for the student.
- Free to roam. Video lessons allow the student (and instructor) to conduct lessons from any variety of locations. Vacations, mobile lifestyles, and distance between instructor and student no longer have to interfere with regular lessons.
- Convenient. You don’t have to go to a store or music school to take lessons. You don’t even have to leave your house! (You may want to change out of your pajamas, though… your instructor can see you.)
- Lots of options. You can find the right instructor for you, even if he/she doesn’t live in your state or country!
- Every lesson on file! One of the best benefits of video lessons is the ability to record the entire lessons via a screen capture program and save the file for the student to use as a reference later. The student never has to leave lesson, only to wonder later, “Now how did my instructor want me to play that?!”
- Requires personal discipline. You have to make your lesson time non-negotiable. For some folks, it’s easier to skip or constantly reschedule lessons because the instructor is on a computer screen, not actually in the room with you. However, your instructor is taking your time seriously; you need to do the same for her. Show up on time, every time. If you need to reschedule, give at least 24 hours notice if you would like a makeup lesson (and even then a makeup is probably not guaranteed). This takes personal discipline… but really, it’s the same discipline required if you take lessons in the same room as your instructor.
- Must learn to be marginally tech-savvy. You do not have to be a computer programmer to operate Skype. However, live video lessons require the student and instructor to become pretty friendly with the equipment and applications necessary to make the lessons happen. The more familiar you can become with the technical aspect of live video lessons, the more effective and consistent they will be. However, sometimes you just can’t get away from the ghost in the machine and last-minute reschedules are required because, simply, your computer doesn’t like you.
- There’s a lag (not the bolt kind). Though today’s Internet moves at mind-blowing speeds, it still takes a few nanoseconds for a video feed to leave one computer and arrive at the other. This lag is almost unnoticeable in your standard “Hey! How ya doin’?” video conference conversation, but it becomes very apparent when you attempt to play your instrument along with the musician on the other side of the screen. By the time you hear the chord she just strummed and you attempt to play along, she’s a few beats ahead of you. Then, by the time your strumming gets to her, you’re a few beats further down the road yourself, and the gap just widens. So, basically, you can’t play simultaneously or sing while the other musician accompanies. This is probably the biggest challenge to live video lessons and takes some work to negotiate. However, this challenge can easily be turned into a benefit because the student and instructor will ALWAYS hear exactly what the student sounds like; no simultaneous playing means the instructor can’t “carry” the student, and they both have to “face the music,” so to speak, and really hear the student’s playing.
- Must. Communicate. Better. When taking lessons via live video, you are not in the room with your instructor. Thus, he can’t move your fingers when they’re in the wrong place or locate and correct an out-of-tune string for you. The instructor will have to become more skilled at communication so he can clearly explain what you need to do. You will have to learn how to communicate what you need to your instructor or what you don’t understand about his instructions. Again, it’s easy to see how this challenge can become a great benefit.
For lots of students, the benefits of live video lessons outweigh the challenges. Consider live video lessons and let the learning begin! Learn how to Get Started with Live Video Lessons.