A Better Way to Learn Music

I come to this topic from the point of view of both a consumer and provider of music lessons. I am a consumer in the sense that I had the good fortune in my student days to be taught by some of the most respected musicians in their fields. A provider in that I have now been a teacher of musical instruments for over 35 years and have taught thousands of pupils in that time.

As a student I was grateful for the fact that I was able to tap-in to such unique and valuable expertise and guidance. I always found it frustrating though, between one lesson and the next, that there would be no one on hand to offer help when I needed it the most.

As a teacher I quickly became aware of that exact same problem, but in reverse.

For any pupil who decides to learn to play an instrument the format tends to be fairly standard: one lesson per week for an agreed length of time. This lesson length would be perhaps most commonly in the region of half an hour or an hour. Believe it or not, when I was teaching in schools it wasn’t uncommon for lessons only to last for 15 minutes, and even at that your lesson would be shared with other students! Such are the limitations of budgets in public education. You would only expect a substantial increase in direct contact time with your teacher if you were fortunate and talented enough to be studying at the highest level at a conservatoire.

Even during this contact time it’s possible, as in all ‘face to face at that moment’ teaching for things to be mis-heard, mis-interpreted, or simply not fully understood. That is valuable lesson time wasted for both student and teacher alike.

This is all nothing new. It has been thus for as long as mankind has sought to make music. Even as far back as the late 1980′s I was experimenting with producing courses of music instrumental lessons on video tape with a view to students being able to refer to them between lessons with their teacher. In fact, I was even exploring the possibility of the student and teacher never even having to meet face to face in order to make lessons more accessible to more students – remember those budget constraints? The problem was, at that time the technology was in its infancy and the results were at best cumbersome.

Yet now, in the 21st century with the advent of the Internet there are better and more efficient ways to learn any aspect of music, whether it’s the instrument of your choice, or simply how to read music. The combination of improved sound recording technology together with quality video recording means that lessons can now be recorded and made available to anyone at the click of a mouse. What’s more these lessons can be produced by the best in their field – anyone can now have that access to the best teaching that I was fortunate enough to receive, but without having to attend a conservatoire.

In comparison with the cost of face-to-face lessons with such illustrious teachers the digital option also provides a much more affordable way of learning from the best, with digital courses costing a fraction of their face-to-face equivalents.

The problems of having to keep pace with a demanding expert teacher have also been eliminated. Video courses mean that a student can go at their own pace. If a point is missed or an exercise is misunderstood it is a simple matter to rewind and go over it again and again if needs be. In a live, face-to-face lesson, the words, the imparting of knowledge is there but for a moment and then it is gone. In a video lesson it’s there for perpetuity, to be re-visited on a whim.

We all have talent to a greater or lesser degree. For the talented, learning to play in the midst of others presents no problem. For the less talented it can equally be an embarrassing nightmare until your skills begin to develop. With video tuition, all of those problems are removed. Not only can you learn at your own pace, but you can also do it in the privacy of your own home.

So, what can you learn in this way? Well, in the field of music the possibilities are endless. There are courses available in all the popular instruments. When it comes to the guitar for example, as well as the basics you can choose to learn in whatever style takes your fancy, rock, classical, folk, rhythm & blues, jazz, country.

Not only instruments are covered. There are courses available to teach you recording and studio techniques, how to be a successful DJ, even down to the best way to get yourself known in the business and how to land that elusive contract.

As I say, the possibilities are endless. It’s just a case of choose your interest and then go out and have yourself some serious fun!