Online or Face-to-Face Piano Lessons: Which is Right for You?

If you plan to take the piano, we have great news: there’s never been a better time to learn. Not only is the internet full of educational content that you can access for free, but there is also an unprecedented number of high-quality and reputable subscriptions. Online piano lessons available to guide your hand(s) through the foothills of beginner piano lessons. The online learning model has exploded in popularity over the past few years, positioning itself as a convenient, affordable, and pandemic-proof alternative to face-to-face lessons with a good piano teacher.

Now that lockdown restrictions are easing and normalcy is slowly returning, are in-person lessons ready to make a comeback? Should they now be something equally viable to consider when embarking on your journey to piano mastery?

Which method is most suitable for you will depend on your individual needs, but by shining a spotlight on both approaches we hope to highlight the pros and cons of each and help you make your decision between online piano lessons and face to face. a little clearer.

1. Cost

There’s no denying that in-person piano lessons are going to be more expensive than online lessons. With half-hour rates around £18/$25, a lesson with a real teacher will soon ramp up. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for, and what you get for your hard-earned money is the full, personal attention of a qualified instructor for a period of time.

Conversely, subscription-based online education services offer flexible programs where you can pay monthly or annually at competitive rates. For instance, Joytunes Simply Piano App (opens in a new tab) offers different subscription levels – you can opt for 3 months for $59.99, 6 months for $89.99 or 12 months for $119.99. Most services will also include a free trial period to test the waters, with some such as strummed (opens in a new tab) offering the ability to pause your subscription and resume it later if needed. The trade-off is the relative lack of personal attention, but your subscription will give you access to a wide range of high-quality educational content in a much more structured format than simply diving into the maze of free videos available online.

2. Benefits for beginners

If you’re a total beginner, it’s no surprise that the majority of online course services are heavily focused on setting the basics. Apps like Simply Piano offer an extremely beginner-friendly interactive experience that combines manual progression through the program with a video game-style interface. With technologies like note recognition via MIDI and audio input, sight-reading tutorials based on quizzes and songs to play, and instant feedback showing any mistakes you make as you play them, most online services offer a fun and rewarding way to get piano playing if you’ve just unboxed your first beginner keyboard and have no previous musical knowledge.

During this time, a human teacher will obviously quickly assess your skill level and adapt their lesson plans accordingly, ensuring that your first lessons are of appropriate complexity. Not only that, but correcting mistakes in technique at an early stage is key to avoiding falling into bad habits later on, and having a trained teacher walk you through the basics can be a lifesaver in this regard.

3. Convenience

In the convenience stakes, there’s no doubt that online is the clear winner. In-person lessons tend to be much more rigidly structured, usually at a set time on a set day of the week, as you are at the mercy of the teacher’s schedule, which if good, will probably quite demanding. . Meanwhile, the flexible nature of learning through an internet subscription service means you can learn at the pace you want. Your virtual tutor is always available whenever you have the time, an hour here, thirty minutes there, and it’s easy to pick up right where you left off.

That said, the internet has had a significant impact on the world of music teachers, to the point that many have their own Patreon channels on which private Zoom lessons are an option. Additionally, some exam providers such as Online Music Reviews (opens in a new tab) have started offering digital versions of graded exams, allowing you to take the tests from the comfort of your living room.

Online services generate a sense of community by providing online forums for users to exchange ideas, techniques, advice and encouragement. A good example of this is Playground sessions (opens in a new tab), which have a dedicated forum built into their bespoke software application. Meanwhile, Pianote offers weekly livestreams where member-submitted videos are reviewed and critiqued in real-time by tutors with an audience of online participants. On the other hand, reputable private piano teachers may offer facilities such as group workshops, social events, and even concerts to help overcome issues such as performance anxiety. These can help develop live performance skills as well as build confidence and showmanship.

5. Quality of teaching materials

Needless to say, there is as much variety in the quality of individual teachers as there is in the quality and effectiveness of online courses – there are undoubtedly good and bad examples of each. If you’re serious about learning classical piano, in-person lessons have the advantage of being able to focus on proper playing technique from the start. If you can find a great teacher who understands your needs and gets on well with you, you’ll be a winner. Most online services will tell you which notes to play with which fingers, but tend to overlook advanced techniques and considerations such as half pedaling, note velocity, and playing dynamics.

6. Monitoring progress

Tracking progress will be a different experience depending on which route you decide to take. Online services will provide feedback through trophies and awards, measuring your process through lessons in a goal-oriented approach reminiscent of a video game. It’ll probably have more appeal if you’re younger, but it can be a great motivator for students of all ages. Their computerized systems will be able to provide an accurate picture of your current performance, down to the exact percentage of wrong notes you’ve played in a piece.

By contrast, in-person progress monitoring will be a much more individual and human affair, and a good teacher will assess your progress throughout each lesson and provide you with an appropriate practice plan to follow in the meantime, focusing precisely on the areas he feels. must be improved.

7. The master class model

Offering some sort of combination of the two approaches, the masterclass model involves a well-known professional artist or prominent musician considered a master of the instrument, delivering a series of paid videos providing insight into their methods and techniques. A good example is the Herbie Hancock Jazz Course on (opens in a new tab)which features a ton of in-depth content from the legend itself.

Meanwhile, Harry Connick Jr recently parted ways with the Playground Sessions service in order to start Piano evening (opens in a new tab), its own online piano lessons system. By their nature, masterclasses tend to be geared more towards intermediate or advanced players than beginners. If you really want to perfect your technique, companies like Finches (opens in a new tab) offer multi-day residential piano workshops for pianists of all levels.

8. How will your game improve?

It’s probably fair to say that while online services will give you a good grounding in the basics, your progress will likely be slower than if you’re cooped up with a professional teacher honing your technique with clinical precision on a face-to-face basis. . a base. In this scenario, progress can be accelerated and any technical errors corrected fairly quickly. The more lessons you take, the more noticeably your game will improve, so it’s worth signing up for a few months if you’re serious.

Self-discipline is also an important consideration, especially with the online approach. Whichever path you choose, perseverance and practice is the key to success, and without a second person beside you to keep you on track, or a rigid class schedule in your schedule, it’s too much. easy to get into the habit of missing lessons or putting off practice sessions if you’re that way prone.