Go online! The advantages and disadvantages of digital music lessons
Digital music lessons: useful or useless?
Musicians in particular have faced testing times in 2020. No more gigs, cool video shoots and music or singing lessons. This has left a lot of free time to finally learn an exotic instrument, the Jew’s harp, for example. So what’s the alternative to in-person lessons? Online lessons! However, there are lots of opinions on this. We shed light on the pros and cons for you and take a look at a few real insider tips. Let’s go!
Advantages of online music lessons:
- Online music schools are usually cheaper
- Low barrier to entry
- Little paperwork
- No fixed lesson times
- You can be taught flexibly at home, practically anywhere in the world
- Choose content and exercises according to what you want
- Usually no personal feedback from the teacher
- You need a lot of self-discipline
- Hardly any consideration of personal strengths and weaknesses
- No contact with other musician
What forms of online music lessons are there?
Private musicians who offer their services online
Many private musicians offer paid and free lessons in the form of YouTube videos. Take, for example, guitar lessons. Tutorials by the guitarist Christian Konrad have been incredibly successful. He is a virtuoso on the guitar and offers some of his great knowledge to the community free of charge. Of course, this is a different form of learning from face-to-face teaching as you can’t ask questions and teaching is generally not tailored individually. So your finger technique, for example, cannot be corrected, which is important, especially for beginners. But it’s not bad for very low level players. And online music teachers make a living by people booking lessons or packages.
Apps for tablets, smartphones and other
Here, too, the lessons are conducted mostly via videos, which have been enhanced with additional information. Some modern apps try to use technical tricks to solve the lack of direct feedback. For example, there are apps that use microphone or MIDI to analyse what you’re playing and give an assessment. The technical possibilities here are quite sophisticated. But ultimately, a modern app can never analyse your personal strengths and weaknesses like a good teacher can. What progress you make depends not only on whether you have played the right notes, but also on what technology you have used and how it suits your personal goals.
Paid online music schools
Here too, there is a large selection. In contrast to YouTube, online music schools as a general rule require a subscription fee, but offer much more in exchange. With high-quality online music schools, you get a structured offer with a clear roadmap to success. How your lessons are planned and presented is different from offer to offer. There are often several courses for beginners and advanced players.
Many online music schools also offer some flexibility when choosing the pieces or music styles. Classes are held mostly as a tutorial, where you can not only watch the teachers, but you will also receive additional information, for example tablature or sheet music.
This is roughly similar to what Musikhaus Thomann offers – surely a name most musicians know. As soon as their new offer called music2me was released in spring this year, it triggered a real shit storm among private online teachers and online music schools. The reason for this is the unbeatable 3 month subscription for musicians. For the most popular music instruments, Musikhaus Thomann has created online courses for new beginners and advanced players which allow you to learn and improve your skills. The whole package costs just €39.00. There are over 150 educational videos in both English and German from virtually all genres of music, as well as sheet music. In addition, you can always contact a “Music2me” teacher if you have any questions.
What does a professional say?
Marius Stieler is an online guitar teacher from Braunschweig. He says
“Online courses are great for offering more people access to positive content that may not normally be possible due to budget, distance and availability of teachers. Today, online music lessons are more than just video collections to play along to. The best deals are well structured, are properly prepared and offer a clear concept that is based on proven methods. I am also a great fan of flexible time management and the opportunity to learn at your own pace. Finally, the videos can be paused and repeated at any time. They allow the musician to practice any time anywhere and are more cost-effective than conventional lessons. Either for just trying out an instrument or for busy people, they are a real alternative today.
However, there are two very important points where online music lessons cannot yet compete with face-to-face music lessons: direct, individual feedback on your learning success and motivation and the development of your playing technique. They are both still superficial with online lessons. In the end, the details that are crucial to a performance cannot entirely be clarified. But also it’s always worth considering: what do I want to get out of the lessons? For learning chord progressions, posture when singing or movement when drumming, online lessons are perfect. But as for sophisticated technique, emotions, philosophy and grappling with the nature of the subject matter, personalised teaching is irreplaceable in my view.”
So all that’s left to say is have fun looking and have fun practising!