There seems to be a debate about whether online music lessons are better than in-person music lessons or vice versa. It should be noted that there are pros and cons to both online music lessons and in-person music lessons. Learning an instrument is extremely fun and rewarding and each instrument presents it's own set of challenges. These challenges and benefits of learning to play an instrument online and in-person will be examined in this article. There are many different instruments to choose from when considering online music lessons or in-person music lessons. For the purpose of this article we will only focus on guitar lessons and piano lessons since both of these instruments are incredibly popular to learn.
The term 'online lessons' refers to a number of different methods of learning. For instance, there are video-based methods of learning such as You Tube and music lesson websites like Piano Dreamers, Piano Video Lessons, Easy Piano, Piano Lessons on the Web, Hear and Play, Piano Marvel, Flow Key, Piano Genius, Class Central, Learn to Play Music, Piano Secrets, Artist Works, Justin Guitar, Andy Guitar, Marty Music, Jam Play, Music is Win, True Fire, The Art of Guitar, and JTC Guitar. There are also music applications for smart phones or tablets that can also be classified as 'online lessons'. Applications like Yousician, Ningenius, Simply Piano, Perfect Piano, Magic Tiles Three, Synthesia, Flow Key, Piano Companion, Skoove, Simply Guitar, Fender Play, Garage Band, Ultimate Guitar, Guitar Pro, Guitar Tuna, Chordify, Smart Chords, and Guitar Toolkit. Finally, there is video based learning with an instructor via Skype, Zoom, Sonatico, Google Meets... Since there are multiple methods of online learning, let's consider the pros and cons of each.
The main problem with video-based learning is there is no personal feedback from an instructor. Students can get discouraged without feedback. It can be difficult knowing if you are playing each exercise correctly. Without guidance or feedback, students can develop poor posture or bad playing habits and this can lead to physical injury. Poor habits for guitar lessons and piano lessons can be using incorrect fingering for the instrument, playing with too much force or tension, slouching while holding the guitar or when sitting at the piano, and playing the guitar and piano with flat fingers rather than keeping them rounded. Another con to video guitar lessons and video piano lessons is the possibility of a lack of motivation. Without an actual teacher it can be difficult to stay motivated since you have no one encouraging you or guiding you on your musical journey. The benefit or pros of video-based learning are the ability to work at your own pace and the option of watching each piano lesson or guitar lesson video as many times as you like.
The pros and cons of music applications for smartphones or tablets are as follows: Music applications are great learning tools. They are fun, challenging, and rewarding. Many music applications for guitar and piano have games that track your progress and keep score. The cons of music applications are much like those of video-based learning. Many music apps cannot track or offer feedback for proper posture for playing guitar and piano. For this reason, students may develop bad playing habits such as slouching or playing the guitar and piano with flat fingers, or playing with body tension and this can ultimately lead to physical injury.
The pros and cons of video-based learning with a live instructor via Skype, Zoom, Sonatico, Google Meets, or Face Time is as follows:
In person or face to face music lessons also have their pros and cons. At Neighbour Note we offer in person music lessons at our music studio in Toronto's High Park neighbourhood. We also offer in-home music lessons throughout Toronto. This means that one of our Neighbour Note teachers will travel to a student's home to teach them in person. Let's look at three pros and cons of in-person, face to face music lessons:
There is an excellent article entitled: 'In-Person vs. Online Learning Statistics', written by Catherine Cooke. This article focuses on the top In-Person vs. Online Learning Statistics and Trends in 2023. According to Catherine's research, the pros of online learning are as follows:
In essence, online learning is cheaper, more time efficient (no travel time), better for the environment (no driving), and students can retain more information than traditional in-person classroom learning.
Catherine's research then examines the pros of traditional in-person learning which are:
Ultimately, in-person learning is more personal, engaging, hands on, easier to build relationships, and less distracting. You can argue that in-person lessons are equally as distracting as classroom in-person learning. Students can easily be distracted by other students in the classroom. You can read the full article here:
Based on my personal teaching experience, both online and in-person, I have found that I prefer in-person teaching. Face-to-face in-person music lessons are superior to online music lessons. The number one reason I state this is physical guidance. Without proper physical guidance music students can learn poor technique and ultimately injure themselves. Not only will students no longer be able to play their instrument, they may live with constant physical pain from repetitive strain injury caused by poor technique. Learning to play an instrument or sing is very hands on. For this reason, in-person music lessons are more beneficial than online music lessons. That being said, I do think that online lessons are better for sharing teaching and learning resources. I also think that online music lessons are easier to record than traditional in-person music lessons and recording lessons is extremely helpful for future practice sessions. There are many pros and cons for both in-person music lessons and online music lessons. Hopefully, this article has given you enough information to help guide you when choosing to take music lessons in-person or online.