How To Choose The Right Online Piano Course
Choosing the Online Piano Course That's Right For You
This lens takes a closeup look at the online piano course. It examines the advantages, disadvantages and several other factors that should be looked at before committing to a purchase. The idea is to provide a useful resource for readers who are considering online piano lessons and help them to make a better informed decision.
If you enjoy music and have always dreamed of playing the piano, or you simply want to improve your current playing skills at your own pace, but you can't afford the time and cost of private lessons, then an online piano course is something you should look into.
It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or an experienced student, there are courses that cover the basics as well as those that specialize in advanced techniques. They provide a convenient and affordable way for anyone to learn how to play the piano and have fun in the process.
But these days, there are so many courses to choose from that it can be quite a challenge trying to find one that best suits your needs and delivers the most value for your time and money. Hence, this lens! I hope you find the information helpful.
Most of all, I wish you a lifetime of satisfaction playing the music you enjoy.
Table of Contents
A Glance at What's Here
What Exactly Is An Online Piano Course?
A Brief Description
"Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue." — Plato
An online piano course is a compilation of interactive, digital music lessons prepared in text, audio and video formats for use with a computer. These lessons can be obtained...
- by digital download
- by direct access to the source website
- by physical shipment as a book, CD and/or DVD
Online Piano Course Advantages
Benefits of Online Piano Lessons
"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." — Aldous Huxley
There are many benefits to be gained from taking piano lessons online. Here are some that come to mind:
1. Practice in the comfort of your own home.
There's no reason to deal with traffic and worry about not getting to your lesson on time. Your instructor is now only as far away as your home computer or laptop.
2. Study whenever you want.
No restrictions on how often you can take a lesson. You get to hit the keys several times a day if you wish, or as many times a week as your timetable allows.
3. Work at your own pace.
You have no pressure to learn a particular concept, drill or piece of music by a certain date. You are free to advance at the pace that feels comfortable for you.
4. Much cheaper than private lessons.
The ongoing cost of a private piano tutor can far exceed the entire cost of digital music lessons. If you place the average cost of a half-hour lesson at $30.00, in less than a handful of sessions you would have paid more than the price of a comprehensive online course.
5. Learn what you want.
If you are intrigued by piano chords and you wanted to focus your attention there, you are free to do exactly that. There's no one to tell you
6. Professional piano instructions for a fraction of the cost of a tutor's time.
The audio and video lessons, worksheets, tips and other resources that typically comprise a digital piano course are excellent and effective learning/teaching tools. You get access to all this material, minus the teacher, for a fraction of the cost of one-on-one tutoring.
7. No competition.
Since you are the only student, you're not competing with or feeling intimidated by other students who may be quicker studies.
8. Play by ear.
If you are not particularly interested in learning to read music and prefer to play by ear, this is one of the easiest ways to develop that ability.
9. Combines audio/visual learning. ou get to hear and see how the lessons are to be performed before you attempt to play them yourself. This sets a standard against which you can compare your effort.
10. Access to all types of music.
Whatever your particular musical taste is, you can find a course that exposes you to the rudiments of that genre. You can choose from gospel, classical, jazz, country, new age, rock, latin, dance music and much more.
11. Kid friendly.
There are online piano courses for kids which use interactive games and other fun activities to keep them engaged. This approach makes it exciting for them to practice.
12. Practice more frequently.
Having the freedom to practice as often as you want will speed up your development. The quality of your practices will get better, and you'll start seeing real progress in a very short time.
13. It's fun.
Learning to play the piano this way can be an exciting adventure and lots of fun. Plus, the satisfaction you enjoy when you master that special lesson or learn how to execute that complicated run, is a great feeling to experience.
These are a fraction of the benefits you can expect when you invest in the right online piano course. The dividends that accrue in terms of entertainment, joy and pleasure you'll derive from playing the piano for yourself and your listeners, will last your lifetime.
Video - Solo Piano - 'Round Midnight
This video features one of YouTube's most highly rated jazz pianist known as 7NoteMode. Listen to his sophisticated voicings and refreshingly imaginative executions as he puts his singular touch on the Thelonius Monk classic 'Round Midnight. You'll enjoy this!
Online Piano Course Disadvantages
Drawbacks of Online Piano Lessons
All the sounds of the earth are like music." — Oscar Hammerstein
As exciting and useful as online lessons can be, there are aspects that do not appeal to everyone.
1. Self training requires discipline.
If you are the type of individual who is typically not organized or structured, and you are uncomfortable taking the initiative, you may find this method of learning to be more frustrating than gratifying.
2. One size doesn't fit all.
Even the best programs will not have everything that a student needs to foster his or her musical development.
3. There's more than meets the eye.
While a video lesson can clearly illustrate the sequence of notes to be played in a particular passage of music, the subtle nuances that may be required to properly execute certain technical dynamics could easily be overlooked.
Example: Some of the fine details regarding posture, breathing, relaxation and the correct hand position for executing lightning-fast, consecutive, staccato octaves, may not even be addressed.
4. High potential for distractions.
With traditional lessons you can be assured of a quiet, controlled environment to help you stay focused; whereas, your home environment may not be ideal for extended periods of uninterrupted concentration.
5. No immediate feedback.
If you are unwittingly performing an exercise incorrectly, there's no one standing (or sitting) next to you to point that out immediately. Or, if you are not clear about a particular exercise and you need further explanation, there's no one next to you at that moment to offer assistance. You'll have to resort to whatever support facility is provided, and the response is always longer than "immediate".
Being aware of the above pros and cons puts you in a position to make a confident and informed decision on a piano course that's ideal for you, or for someone else.
Video - Piano Performance - Footprints
Footprints is a simple minor blues classic written by jazz great Wayne Shorter. It is performed here on keyboard by Roger Friedman (YouTube Channel: Lot2Learn) in a medium tempo Afro-Cuban rhythm. The bass and drums are supplied by a MIDi backing track. Notice the use of modified stacked 4th chords in this tune. The chord names are also displayed.
How Online Piano Courses Are Delivered
Various Ways to Get Your Lessons
"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." — Victor Hugo
Online piano courses are set up to give students easy access to the material as quickly and conveniently as possible. Most courses will combine and vary elements from the basic delivery methods to achieve this.
Here's a look at some of these methods:
- Membership Site — Your purchase grants you lifetime access to the entire library of DVDs, CDs, ebooks, sheet music, play-along tracks and other resources that comprise the course, as well as all lessons that may be added in the future. You can use the materials directly from the members area, or you may download whatever you want to your home computer.
Some sites offer different membership levels, such as:
- Free Membership – You have full access to all the site's resources for a limited time. You can look around and check things out before you reach for the credit card. And when you're ready to decide, you pay once for...
- Your Choice of Membership – You select from a 1-month, 3-month, 6-month or 12-month membership. Or, you can subscribe and pay monthly for as long as you want, with the right to unsubscribe at any time.
- Immediate Digital Download — As soon as your payment is processed, you are taken to a page with instructions on how to download your lessons. In some cases you are sent this information by email. From there it's just a matter of following instructions on how to get started. You can be learning your first lesson in mere minutes.
- Delivered by Postal Mail — Piano courses can also be delivered directly to your doorstep as a physical package. The package will contain the same books, DVDs and CDs that are available via digital download. But because it is a physical product, it usually costs more than a download, and shipping and handling is added to that cost.
These are the main methods that are used to connect you with your piano lessons. Some courses use slight variations and combine different elements, but I'm sure you get the idea.
Video - Keith Jarrett Solo Piano - Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Tokyo 1984
Keith Jarrett is widely acclaimed in the world of Jazz as a solo piano improviser of unchallenged imagination and singular technical prowess. Here is his interpretation of Harold Arlen's familiar classic Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
Important Things To Look For
Your Due Diligence Checklist
"Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life."
— Ludwig van Beethoven
Online piano lessons have been exploding in popularity in tune with the rapid advances in digital music technology and the delivery of Internet services. Even though the vast majority of these lessons are legitimate and reputable, it is still relatively easy for the uninformed shopper to be duped into purchasing an inferior product.
That's why it's important that you know what to look for so you don't go spending your money on junk. One of the best safeguards against becoming a victim is to be prepared. You should read piano lesson reviews, visit music forums, ask lots of questions and do as much research as you can.
In other words, do your homework. This way you'll get a much better picture of what you are facing and it'll be easier to make a wise choice; one that you wouldn't regret.
Obviously, not all courses are created equal, but they do have some things in common which you should look at closely.
There is nothing more powerful than the words of a satisfied (or dissatisfied) customer talking about his or her experience with a particular online course. It is real feedback, and very valuable for gaining insight. You should use it as an objective tool for determining how useful the course might be to you.
Look past the generalities and zoom in on the specifics.
- Does the testimonial say whether or not the course was easy to use and understand?
- What did the customer think about the quality and presentation of the lessons?
- Was there any mention of what was lacking that would have improved the course?
Also, you should remember that not every customer will have the same goals in a particular course and every opinion is subjective. Testimonials are just one of several measurements you'll use to help you make the best decision.
- Money Back Guarantee
Every upstanding course provider stands behind their product with a money back guarantee. Make sure to read and understand the terms and conditions. It's good to know that you can get a complete refund within a stated period if you are unhappy with the product for whatever reason.
- Free Sample Lesson
The nature of an online piano course makes it imperative that you get a chance to preview one or more lessons before you decide to make any purchase. Most courses will allow you to sample a few video lessons, view a Table of Contents, or spend some time in a members' area as part of that process. It gives you an opportunity to assess the teaching style, the material that will be studied and gauge whether a particular course is best suited to your skill level.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Some sites will have a page that addresses the questions visitors and customers ask most frequently. You should look here first for answers to your most pressing questions. You'll often find eye-opening information here; information that's not always present on the promotional web page.
- Contact Information
It's important to be able to reach a real person in case you need to get a question answered, or you simply want to leave a comment. There should be a contact form, telephone number, an email or a mailing address clearly displayed on the website for that purpose.
- Technical Support/Help Desk
In case you encounter problems with a download, a video doesn't play, a CD is damaged, or you simply need help using the course software, you want the assurance that technical help is available to you. There's nothing more frustrating than being faced with a critical problem and having no one to turn to for help.
- Software System Requirements
It's always a good idea to check the software system requirements to be sure the course software is compatible with your computer's operating system. You want to be sure that the format will work on your particular operating system.
- A Website With a Professional Presentation
First impressions convey a lot. An attractive website that clearly describes the course features and explains the benefits, inspires confidence and trust. The care and forethought that went into creating the site suggests that at least equal care and deliberation went into crafting the course.
In addition to the above suggestions, you should also pay attention to your intuition. If you get that gut feeling that something isn't right, it doesn't cost you anything to look elsewhere. As a matter of fact it may save you money and stress in the long run.
Video - Lang Lang Solo Piano - Liebestraum - Franz Listz
Considered by many to be the hottest performer of classical music today, Lang Lang is a phenomenal young pianist. He plays sold-out concert halls all over the world, and captivates audiences with his brilliance, energy and emotion. In this video he performs Liebestraum, a Franz Listz composition.
Making Sense Of It All
"The pause is as important as the note." — Truman Fisher
The piano is a challenging instrument which requires years of study and practice to create beautiful music with its 88 keys. The sooner you can get started on the basics, the quicker you will develop your ability to play it well.
Whether it is your ambition to play the piano for your own pleasure, your church choir, or even to become a professional musician, learning the instrument offers many benefits and can be a very fulfilling experience for young and old alike.
Numerous studies have shown that children who play a musical instrument generally do better academically than those who do not. In adults, the benefits can be measured in improved mental alertness and sharper memory.
But, putting all that aside, learning to play the piano is simply fun and doing it by way of an online piano course makes the process entertaining and delightful. Plus, it is a less expensive and much more convenient alternative to private lessons.
Online lessons will introduce you to scales, chords, rhythm and harmony — the rudiments of music. You will learn how to combine these elements in your own unique way and make beautiful music on the piano.
A Few Words of Caution!
- Don't be in a hurry to become a virtuoso.
Rome wasn't built in a day! Take your time to learn and understand each lesson. Avoid shortcuts! Practice often, stay focused on what you are doing and make sure to develop only good habits.
- Don't confuse playing a tune with playing the piano.
The two are not interchangeable! Anyone with marginal skill can read or memorize the notes to a song and play them on the piano so that listeners can recognize the song. That rendition may also be mechanical and dull, leaving listeners with a sense that there was "something" missing.
Someone else who understands theory, structure and the piano's dynamic range, can play the same song and hypnotize listeners with the music. That's the level of proficiency you should aim for on the piano.
- Don't try to sound like another pianist.
Develop your own sound! It's quite alright to study how your favorite players interpret songs, voice chords and develop melodies, but use that to expand your musical vocabulary and perspective. Then borrow the elements you like the most and harmonize those with your own ideas to develop your personal touch.
If you can do that, you will build a solid platform of technique, comprehension and confidence. From there you can leap to whatever level of performance mastery you may desire.
In the meanwhile, have fun and enjoy the music!
Expand Your Repertoire
Fake Books - A Great Source for Tunes
A fake book is a collection of songs presented in a specialized format so that musicians may learn unfamiliar tunes quickly. The music features a notated melody line; lyrics are included immediately below the corresponding notes, and the names of the appropriate chords to play are also indicated.
Because of this compact style, a fake book can easily contain hundreds of songs, making it a handy reference for study, practice and performance. The simplified format assumes that you have an elementary understanding of chords and their inversions. This gives you the freedom to interpret the music however you wish, using whatever voicings you prefer.
One minor criticism of the fake book is that you will come across the occasional tune with the "wrong" chord name indcated.
Example: A C7b9 chord may be indicated as an E dim chord. Although that is technically correct, in the wrong context it can be cumbersome and annoying for the spontaneous improviser.For that reason it never hurts to listen to a recording of the song and double check the chords by ear, or get a copy of the original manuscript and see what the composer intended.
In any event, a fake book can be a great reference for the casual player or the professional. It offers an enormous wealth of tunes and is very fertile ground for developing an impressive repertoire.
Available at Amazon
Over 250 great songs of the Rock era arranged for piano, vocal, guitar, elctronic keyboard and all "C" instruments.
A collection of more than 100 easy classical pieces in the key of C, with melody, lyrics and simplified chords. Ideal for beginners.
A comprehensive collection of over 500 Latin tunes with simple notation and chords. Music is grouped by type for easy reference. Includes well know classics like Spain and Wave.
For the intermediate and advanced piano student who wants a deeper understanding of jazz concepts in order to master comping and improvising.
If you are a fan of the Blues you will welcome the wide range of songs and artists this book covers. The layout is clear and easy to follow. A great study for players who have a good grasp of the blues.
Finish This Statement
I'm interested in an online piano course because...
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