For many people, piano lessons are a quintessential part of the childhood experience. The forced practice time, the dreaded weekly trip to the lesson, and the annual recital are scenes that resonate with former music students across the country. However, today’s musical journey can take a different road, thanks to advances in technology.
Instead of worrying about finding a piano teacher close to home or trying to schedule lessons around school, work, or sports, piano students can access lessons 24 hours a day on the web. Quality instructors, personalized lessons, and instant feedback make the new era of piano lessons fun, engaging, and convenient.
In spite of the new advances, though, many are hesitant to try virtual piano lessons. What are the advantages of choosing this format for learning to play the piano? Are there any disadvantages? No matter which methodology you select, studies have shown that learning to play the piano can have a dramatic impact on a child’s problem-solving abilities, spatial relations, and study skills.
Advantages of Virtual Lessons
Signing up to learn to play the piano through a virtual interface has the following advantages:
Cost effective—Virtual music lessons tend to be less expensive than their “in-person” counterparts, primarily because the instructor typically works out of his or her home and doesn’t have to worry about covering the expense of renting retail space. In addition, the travel costs associated with traditional lessons, such as gas and parking, can add up. With a virtual lesson, there are no transportation costs, and students can reschedule lessons as needed, thereby resulting in fewer missed classes.
Flexible—Students typically schedule traditional music lessons for a particular day and time, and if they need to alter this arrangement, they must give advance notice to avoid paying for the missed time-slot. Virtual lessons allow for quick and easy rescheduling, should the need arise.
Disadvantages of Virtual Lessons
Despite the many advantages of taking virtual piano lessons, there are some disadvantages that may discourage people from considering this option.
Lack of Feedback—Unless you elect to use a “real-time” virtual piano teacher, feedback and personalized responses can be delayed, often for days. This lag in instruction can be frustrating and might delay a student’s advancement.
Impersonal—Students may be unfamiliar with the process of virtual interaction. Minimal interaction with others may make the music lesson seem cold and impersonal and might lead to dissatisfaction with the learning process.
Less accountability—Part of the incentive for practicing a lesson every day is the implied threat that the individual will have to sit in front of his or her teacher and perform. A virtual lesson doesn’t carry the same “threat response” and can result in a lackadaisical attitude about practicing and completing lessons.
Virtual Piano Studios
If you decide to try the online route, there are many schools from which to choose, including the following:
Live Music Tutor—This user-friendly virtual studio offers lessons for more than 30 instruments, as well as music theory, composition, and music history. Users create a profile and then search available instructors to find one that meets their needs and style. The school offers varying levels of instruction, from beginner to master levels, and fees range from $25 to $60 per lesson. To begin, students simply need their instrument and a webcam. Each one-hour lesson is recorded and students can play it back later to reinforce the skills they are learning.
ArtistWorks—Bringing together world-class musicians, ArtistWorks offers lessons for 20 instruments, including the ukulele, the Dobro, and the harmonica. Once a user has chosen an instrument and an instructor, he or she can select a 1-month, 3-month, or 12-month plan. During their selected time period, students watch pre-recorded lessons and then upload a recording of their practice. ArtistWorks then sends personalized feedback based on the student’s performance. One of the largest benefits of the program is the user’s unlimited access to hundreds of lessons. This gives the individual complete control over his or her rate of advancement.
TakeLessons—A hybrid music school, TakeLessons offers its students two options for learning to play an instrument. Students can search for instructors who are local, or virtual, depending on the individual’s preference. Lesson length and fees vary based on the location, the teacher selected, and the format of lesson delivery. The virtual lessons take place in real time, thus making the interaction seem more like a traditional lesson. In addition, users are not limited to local teachers, but can choose the teacher that is most suited to their needs—regardless of where in the country they are located.
Thanks to technology, there are now few excuses for not learning to play the piano. Students can effectively master their musical talents from the comfort of their own homes, at a fraction of the cost, and in less time. If you sign up your child for lessons this summer, he or she could be playing in a recital by the time the winter holidays roll around.