Online and Packaged Music Learning

On-line and packaged music learning programs provide an alternative to working with a private teacher in person or participating in a group class.

This type of independent learning can work well for many people. Some of the benefits of this type of learning are:

  • Access: No matter where you live, on-line or packaged music learning programs can give you access to a variety of teachers, methods and styles.
  • Flexibility: While some on-line teachers do schedule time-specific sessions, most programs of this type make lessons with audio or video recordings and other materials available to use at your convenience.
  • Cost: Costs vary greatly, but, because they don’t require one-on-one real-time teacher presence, these programs can often be relatively inexpensive. This type of learning is not for everyone, though.

Here are some of the challenges:

  • Discipline: This type of learning requires discipline. When you sign up for one of these programs, you’ve paid, whether you use it or not. They are usually a good value overall, but only if you use them!
  • Feedback: With this type of program, any feedback the student receives is more limited in scope than with private lessons, where a teacher can directly address technique and musicality issues, as well as accuracy of pitch, rhythm and tone.
  • Practice Motivation: Almost every music student practices more the day or two before their lesson than the rest of the week. Having to actually face a teacher can provide motivation to practice. It’s easier to procrastinate with a less personal “teacher”.

Here are some ways to find good programs:

  • Referrals: A recommendation from a like-minded friend who has used the program is ideal.
  • Sample: Some programs will provide a free sample lesson to try.
  • Reviews: Program reviews may be available on-line, in newsletters or other periodicals. If you can find a reputable review source, these often provide helpful detail and perspective from users.

If you choose this type of learning option, here are some tips to make it work:

  • Select a program that’s a good fit for you.
  • Schedule a regular “lesson time”, as well as regular practice times.
  • Find a learning “buddy” – someone who is using the same or a similar program. Challenge each other to keep up practicing.
  • Schedule a performance. You are more likely to practice regularly and effectively if you know you are going to have to show up and play in front of an audience, even if it’s a small, friendly one.