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Private Online Music Lessons

Updated on April 26, 2020
Joyful Pamela profile image

Pamela is a professional musician and private music instructor for over 3 decades. She is constantly researching aspects of music education.

Why private music lessons?

With all of the recent events in our world today, forms of education for all subjects are changing. While students of all ages are adjusting to learning online, music education is progressing at a rapid pace, also. Private online music lessons are one of those new opportunities to music students.

After teaching quite an eclectic range of music classes over the span of my career, my first preference for learning to play an instrument is via one on one sessions with a qualified teacher.

Although group music lessons also have many benefits to a new or seasoned musician (to be explored and explained in a future article), I can say that I see the majority of students that I have worked with grow abundantly more with custom built curriculum for them.

Advantages of Individualized Instruction

I find that students have more success in personalized music instruction in general. Why? Here are some of my observations.

1 - Every student comes from a different background of musical knowledge to begin with into lessons. If a student starts an instrument with a wide knowledge already of how to read music, is naturally is able to "hear" or play music by ear, or comes from a musical family where parents or siblings already play, he or she will have a huge advantage over peers who are starting from scratch.

2 - Each student has personal areas in which they have strengths and weaknesses. Imagine a group lesson of ten students where a new rhythm pattern is introduced. I can guarantee that at least one or two will understand it and be able to play it without a second thought. At the other end, students who have difficulty in math may struggled to count out the same rhythm pattern even after hearing and seeing it several times. A teacher in this case usually needs to keep a middle ground where most of the pupils make progress during the time given then need to move on to something else. The advanced one may spend a whole class on something already understood; the one who is challenged may still struggle with the concept when it is time to move on to another. Students at both ends are not served for their individual needs. (I am not criticizing any of my fellow teachers; I have been a school band director and a private teacher; therefore, I am simply sharing concerns that I have felt for my students.)

3 - In a classroom, all students have unique learning styles. While one student may learn the piece / song better simply by listening to an example of how the song should be played, another student will need to see it written out visually on a page reading every note and counting all rhythms. Others will understand the concepts, but will simply need to repeat passages to build up their motor coordination and muscle memory.

4 - Everyone has their own preferences of songs and styles that they want to play. Although most music teachers and band directors pick out a huge variety of pieces for their students that span a plethora of influences, there are some pieces that are not written for the band size or instrumentation of the music students for which they are working. A student may want to play a certain instrument because of a love of a certain piece of music but may not have the chance to learn and play it in a group setting.

5 - Not all music student goals are the same. Some students want to be the next Mozart or (insert your favorite pop music musician) and take it very seriously all around. Others just want to have a relaxing hobby to learn the basics and to enjoy without the pressures of being a performer. Still others are playing an instrument only because a parent wants them to or a friend is playing it. These unique goals will lead to completely different results in how well the students will learn and play. Therefore, their instruction needs can take on a whole new look, also.

6 - They will not learn at the same pace and method. What works great for some students will not have the same outcome for others.

7 - The amount of practice time with the instrument makes an enormous difference in the student's success. In a group some will practice daily while other will never practice outside of class.

So, the bottom line … why do I prefer private music lessons? They may be tailored to each individual musician to help them where they need the most help and to be able to play the music of their dreams!

Piano Lesson Books

Alfred's Premier Piano Course Series Level 1A- Four Book Set - Includes Lesson, Theory, Performance and Technique Books
Alfred's Premier Piano Course Series Level 1A- Four Book Set - Includes Lesson, Theory, Performance and Technique Books
I have been using Alfred Publisher music books for decades. This is my favorite series for young piano students. This particular one is wonderful for elementary students, but they come in versions for teens and adults, too. The set contains a lesson book for learning new concepts, a theory book with written activities for reinforcement, a performance book with fun songs, and a technique book for finger strength and proper playing.

Private Music Lessons

allow teachers to adjust musical information

to best fit the individual student.


Considering Online Lessons?

I have to admit that this music teacher of 30+ years was a little skeptical about doing online lessons. Part of why I love my job is the blessings of working with musicians of all ages in person! Spending one on one quality time with a person each week allows people to really get to know one another beyond the music. I have made deep connections with my students over the years that have turned into friendships well beyond the years that lessons were taken.

1 - Therefore, one of my concerns was that I was fearful of loosing that personal connection if lessons were done via a computer screen. As I am writing this during the 2020 health lockdown, I am finding that my online students are the joy of my week. I still see their smiling faces when they achieve a musical goal. I can see and when they are frustrated or sad. I can hear their feelings still in the music that they play over the computer. I may not be able to be in a room next to them, but I can certainly still connect with them emotionally.

2 - Another consideration was if I could help each student the same was as in person. Because of close up cameras, students and teachers are able to see and hear each other clearly, making it possible for teachers to demonstrate sections of songs and able to teach and correct notes, hand positions, and more like would be done in person.

3 - As a non-techy type person, I wondered how to connect properly with my students - whether they were technologically savvy or not. With modern technology, I have found it easy to connect on several of the online platforms (Skype, Facetime, Zoom, etcetera) visually and aurally. And trust me … if I can figure out how to do these techy things … you can, too!

4 - What about materials that are used in music lessons? Teachers and students can each have copies of the music and theory books they want to use. There are also downloadable sheet music options online these days if students prefer over a hard copy of a book. Many of the online platforms have tools to share screens and PDF's, highlighters or pointers to mark sections that a student will be working on, and virtual whiteboards to write down information. Even assignments that I used to write down in notebooks for the students may be typed onto their screens or chat box.

5- Flashcards, games, and other manipulatives are fun to use during lessons to reinforce a concept. Instead of my paper copies that I use in studio, I have found many sites with these tools that may be used on a shared screen with students.

6 - Since listening is an important skills for musicians to learn, I have been able to find recordings online of pieces a students is working on and share it with them directly to watch during lesson or afterwards.

7 - Evaluation is also important way for students to grow in their playing, therefore some of my students have used recording features on the platforms either of myself playing for them to listen to during the week or of themselves.


Interested in Playing an Instrument?

Although I will always enjoy working and creating music with my students live in person, it has also been a pleasure to teach them with some of the new online advantages listed above.

I will now be able to teach students who move to a new location or start more online students who live far away.

I'm looking forward to the exciting new possibilities with online music education!

If you are considering online music lessons in the future, I would be happy to talk with you. I have been teaching for over 30 years in school, church, and in my private studio, Joyful Songs Music School. I specialize in piano, flute, oboe, clarinet, and saxophone, but also teach brass, string, and percussion instruments.

In the meantime, have fun creating joyful songs!

Woodwind and Brass Lesson Books

Rubank Intermediate Method: Flute or Piccolo (Rubank Educational Library, no. 75) (Rubank Educational Library, 75)
Rubank Intermediate Method: Flute or Piccolo (Rubank Educational Library, no. 75) (Rubank Educational Library, 75)
The Rubank Series of lesson materials is one I used when I was first learning my instruments. It has stood the test of time and is still an incredible series for those learning the basics of music and an instrument. They are available in three levels - Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced I and II for all band instruments.

© 2020 Joyful Pamela


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