Pros and Cons of Online vs. In-Person Music Lessons

in-person vs online music lessons

The pandemic has challenged us all, but from it, we have learned how to be more flexible. We found ways to adapt and continue learning while the world was on hold. Now we can use the things we learned in new ways!

You may have doubts about online music lessons, and that’s understandable. Being online is no substitution for being in-person. However, there are some perks to taking online lessons that we didn’t discover until we tried them!

Keep reading to find out the pros and cons of taking lessons online, and see if they might be right for you!

Table Of Contents

child taking online music lessons

Exploring Learning Music Online

Factors that Influence Online Ability

  • High-Speed Internet Access
  • Instrument Access at Home
  • Quiet space for an effective learning environment
  • Ability to set up and manage lesson software (i.e. Zoom)

The Benefits of Learning Music In-Person

  • Ability to help with physical placement of fingers, etc.
  • Access to teachers’ & schools’ Instruments/Materials
  • A personal connection to teachers & staff and working with other students
  • An environment specifically designed for concentration and effective learning
  • No lag and ability to perform duets & live accompaniment
  • The ability for teachers to mark up student materials

The Challenges of Learning Music In-Person

  • Safety i.e. COVID/health precautions, etc.
  • Carrying instruments from place to place
  • Getting to and from the lesson site
  • Difficulty finding a qualified local teacher with availability

The Challenges of Learning Music Online

  • Technical difficulties possible i.e. wifi connection, buffering, lag, etc.
  • Can be difficult to discern musical tone, volume, rhythm, and phrasing without high-level audio equipment
  • Can be challenging for your teacher to see your technique and explain technical concepts
  • Can not play in sync with your teacher 
  • Homes may be busy with other children or activities
  • The danger of screentime burnout

The Benefits of Learning Music Online

  • Take lessons anywhere
  • No commute to lessons
  • Comfort level in your own home
  • Lessons possible even during travel, illness, or family emergencies, etc.
  • Can be a good temporary alternative for missed lessons
  • Online resources can be shared instantly and tracked immediately
  • Students can work with teachers they may not otherwise have access to
  • The ability to take lessons with a qualified teacher for specialized instruments
woman playing ukulele

What are the best ways to take music lessons online?

First, I want to talk about what we mean by “Online Music Lessons.” There are several ways in which people can take lessons online.

Free Online Videos

This category includes things like YouTube where you can access information for free. You may want to consider that anyone can post videos on Youtube, and it’s harder to tell if that person is a credible or reliable source for musical information. We don’t recommend this self-guided approach by itself. Having a teacher at your side will help to ensure that your learning process is exciting and effective.

Apps or Self-Paced Classes

Tools like Masterclass or Skillshare, and apps like Perfect Piano or Yousician can be great for general information. Sometimes, however, these options can be less than ideal. Some self-paced classes are expensive, and you can’t ask questions or get individualized instruction.

Private Live Video Lessons with a Teacher

There is no substitution for one-on-one music lessons with a great teacher. Your teacher can help you to set goals and reach them! An individual lesson with a teacher can be the difference between failure and success.

piggy bank price of music lessons

Is Learning Music Online Worth the Price?

Many students and parents of students have this question. Should you really pay the same amount for online instruction vs. in-person?

In our article about the cost of private lessons, we discuss this question. The price of lessons is dependent on your teacher’s time, experience, and qualifications, as well as preparation by the teacher and admin staff and other factors like video platform cost (such as Zoom).

In most cases, the work being done to coordinate online lessons is actually more time-consuming than the work being done for in-person lessons. Lesson materials like sheet music, exercises, audio materials, etc. must be prepared in advance and uploaded to an online platform for the students to access. If a student needs accompaniment, this must be pre-recorded and uploaded.

If a teacher is teaching online from the school or from their own home, they will need high-speed internet as well. If you think about it this way, online lessons are absolutely worth the price.

Decide What’s Best for You

Although learning online might be difficult for some, others have flourished online. Don’t say no until you try it! Many schools offer free trial lessons if you want to give it a shot before you commit.

All in all, the only person who can know what is best for them is the student. Despite the challenges presented by online learning, we’re glad we can still provide music education to our students!

Author: WIllow Cowherd

Willow has been working with Ensemble Schools since June 2020 and works as the General Manager at the Rochester Academy of Music in Rochester, MN.

Willow earned her B.S. in Theatre and Sociology from South Dakota State University in 2019. She has performed for Prairie Repertory Theatre and worked on performances with the Broadway Tour of ‘Chicago.’ Her main training is in Stage Management, but she has an abundance of creativity which she pours into music school management, writing, graphic design, and acting. She currently works as a medical actor for the Mayo Clinic Multidisciplinary Simulation Center.

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