Do Remote Guitar Lessons Work?

I often get emails from prospective students asking if remote guitar lessons are as good as lessons in-person. In fact, when I type "Do remote guitar lessons__" into Google, it suggests "Do remote guitar lessons work?" Google English is funny, don’t you think?

Well, do remote guitar lessons work?

After teaching guitar for fifteen years in a face-to-face setting, shifting online during the pandemic was a big experiment for me. Given that I had little choice, I went into remote learning with an open mind and saw it as an opportunity to refine my teaching style. After a little experimentation, I can say that "yes", for me, remote guitar lessons work very well, but there are some things to consider.

To be successful at teaching remotely, I had to be exceptionally good at listening to what my clients were really asking from me. It was more than just setting structured goals and providing them the approaches required for effective practice. It was how and what had to be delivered to them. Teaching remotely forced me into a place of communication without the crutches of the physical, and it's been enlightening.

I know many teachers that did not enjoy teaching remotely at all, and I cannot speak for them. Remote settings are not for everyone, and it is a medium you really have to understand. I have several students who almost gave up on their playing altogether before reaching out to me due to bad experiences with prior teachers online. That was the motivation behind this article.

Once I got thinking about all this, I unearthed quite a few stones, so I created a separate, more thorough post on how to choose the right music teacher. Much of what makes a relationship successful is both parties wanting it to work, so hopefully, that post will shed some light for you. Below I have shared the most common questions I get regarding remote music lessons.

Does being physically present for a guitar lesson really make a difference?

The biggest concern I receive about remote lessons is if they are less effective when both parties are not physically present. If you have a good teacher and you're o.k. with Zoom-style hangouts, then things aren't really any different than being in person. There is a slight lag between speaking, but I have allowed this limitation to make me a better listener. Other than jamming at the same time together, there isn't anything that can't be addressed in a remote setting. If the teacher is good, then the information will be good.

Can students see where to put their fingers?

Yes, absolutely. This has never been a problem with any of my students.

Do students need to receive physical adjustments from a teacher?

This is a fair question, and I think some teachers prefer to be in the same room for this reason. Personally, I can easily communicate playing techniques to my students remotely, and I’ve never had a student who didn’t pick things up just as quickly over Zoom. I find that my remote students often develop a more internalized awareness of technique because I guide them to where they actively discover that clicking point for themselves.

How young can a student be for remote lessons?

If you find that your child did fairly well with online schooling during the pandemic they should do quite well in a one-on-one music lesson. Being able to interact is what drives engagement!

What software do I need?

I use Zoom for my lessons because it provides the best results, however, I can use whatever software my clients are comfortable with. You don't need a paid subscription level for Zoom.

What equipment setup do I need?

Just a computer with the minimum system requirements, your guitar, and a quiet, well-lit room. My setup is high-tech (for better audio quality), but I recommend keeping things simple and comfortable on your side.

How do I find the right guitar teacher?

Great question. I've made a post on this here.

Can I take lessons with you?

Maybe! Feel free to reach out at my teaching site here for more info.