Guide to online music lessons: 4 considerations and 4 mindset tips

online muzieklessen

Let’s immerse in the world of online music lessons. How do they work? What do you need to take them? What kind of mindset should we adopt? 

We are going to respond to all these questions but first, let’s learn the context so we know why we need them in the first place. Now, more than ever in our recent history is when everything went online. And music lessons are not an exception. Ok, we do not need to tell you about the current crisis anymore. You can read about it in our previous entry here. We all know it and suffer its consequences. One of those consequences is that a big amount of people have not returned to work at their offices at all, while some of them did only occasionally. There are people who will never come back to those offices, and the whole work paradigm has changed forever. At least for those activities that do not need your physical presence. 

Due to regulations all over the world, the same has happened with other activities like yoga, cooking workshops, fitness, college and schools, and many others. Hobbies and professional activities alike. So, as expected, music lessons went online as well. 
Therefore, how does that affect the quality of music lessons? Will music lessons ever remain online? Is it worth it to take online music lessons rather than waiting for the situation to improve?
Well, let’s get into it and discuss these considerations.

1 Actually, how do online music lessons work?

Online music lessons take place on the internet. Any music subject or area can be brought to the online world, even chamber music or band coaching! 
As opposed to in-person lessons, 3 entities are involved in online lessons: The student, the teacher, and the communications platform. Students and teachers meet on one of the videoconference platforms that are available. At Bom-B Music, we use Skype and Zoom for regular instrumental lessons, and Discord for music production and theory lessons. It is very important to choose the most suitable one for the occasion. For instance, Discord offers a better response for screen sharing, so it is optimal for music production lessons.
Once the student and the teacher are connected, the lesson may start. This type of lesson has some specific limitations and enhancements that we will explore in the next lines.

2 How do online music lessons affect the quality of my education?

For me, quality is the most important aspect of music lessons. When going online, the quality of the lessons can decrease if we are not ready to adapt to the differences and limitations that this brings. In my opinion, a stable internet connection, a decent laptop built-in microphone, and a 720p (clean) webcam would suffice for an experienced online music teacher. For theoretical lessons, our available technological resources are more than enough to enjoy them to their fullest. However, in instrumental lessons, the teacher should take special attention to the small details in the movement of the student and the sound they are producing. In my case (brass instruments), I pay special auditive attention to the timbre and make a visual examination of their neck and lips to know whether or not my students: 
  1. Are using enough air
  2. Play with a relaxed throat
  3. Have a correct and stable embouchure
If that can be interpreted clearly by the teacher, the quality of the lessons will not decrease. However, this is not the only aspect that has influence. Motivation and communication play a big role as well. 

3 Will music lessons remain online in the future? 

Yes, and No. Let me explain. 
Whenever it is possible to take music lessons in person, that will remain as the preferred option. At least, with the current technology. Direct communication that does not depend on bandwidth and where you can feel the energy in the room helps a lot in terms of motivation. However, it will happen at some point that your preferred teacher, -the one that you know and like, or the one that has that mindset and knowledge you are looking for- has moved and is now living at a not comfortable enough distance, and the other teacher in your area do not meet your expectations. In that case, online music lessons are a great solution! It brings new possibilities that were not possible before. 
Future technologies will make online music lessons 100% advisable but we are not quite there yet.
There is an exception for beginners though! In many cases, starter students (especially if they are very young, 6-10 y/o) may not have enough attention span to stay focused and motivated to learn the specific details of playing an instrument and start playing. That may cause a decrease in their motivation, so it is especially important for the teacher to be open and honest about how the lessons are going. Perhaps, stopping now helps the student to take it with more motivation in the future. This does not apply if the student has taken lessons previously and can play at least a complete scale.

4 Is it worth it to take online music lessons rather than waiting for in-person lessons?

That’s entirely up to you and your context. Your setup, your experience, your internet connection… All these things are very important when considering the value of online music lessons. In my opinion, it is always good to keep momentum. But what does momentum mean? 
Let’s picture that you are driving a train and an animal crosses the railway. Immediately, you use full brakes trying to stop the train as soon as possible. However, the train only stopped 3 kilometers further. The weight of the train, combined with its speed, created momentum and that is the energy that could continue pushing the train forward when no more energy was added and the brakes were extended. 
So, with music lessons and other activities, this happens as well. The more you practice, rehearse, take lessons, play with others… the more you gain momentum. So,
“take momentum into account if you are considering taking a break with music lessons or wait for a better moment to start them. Starting again might be difficult if you lose too much momentum. If you decide to take a break, do not ever stop playing your instrument and making music!”
After discussing these considerations about online music lessons, we have a better idea of how music lessons work and the challenges we can encounter. Now, let’s see how we can take advantage of online music lessons, their benefits, and making the most of them.

Mindset tips

Online music lessons are not the same as in-person lessons. That is inevitable, and our expectations should meet reality. 
It is normal that, when we have to continue online, we automatically expect lessons to continue the same way. However, it will not be that way. Internet connection will drop at some point, we will have to repeat sentences and explanations because we froze for some seconds, the image will become blurry avoiding the teacher or student from appreciating an important physical example. 
All this, and more, will happen. We need to be prepared for this! So, take this into account:
  1. Prepare for the lesson. Arrange the space, get your material, mount your instrument if you need to, set up your microphones…
  2. Online lessons are not the same as in-person lessons. Adapt your mind to that.
  3. Connection issues are normal. When that happens, do not try immediately to communicate again. That can be frustrating! Breathe, smile, take your time, let connection re-establish, and continue. 
  4. Do not hesitate to ask again, and as many times as you need, if you did not understand something.
In conclusion, instrumental online music lessons are not comparable to in-person lessons but the technology will bring it to a very good level, and really soon! For the time being, we are not there yet. However, online music lessons are now a very good option to keep on learning music if in-person lessons are not possible. They are also great options when your preferred teacher does not live in your area! Theoretical lessons are 100% doable and advised when taking them online. 
Now, are you ready to take action? Book a trial lesson with us and get started!

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