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Online Piano Lessons Vs In Person

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Have you wondered what’s better when comparing online piano lessons vs in person piano lessons? If so then you’re not alone. While in-person piano lessons have slowly trended downward the last few years, online piano lessons are actually gaining more popularity.

In today’s society convenience is everything. With the growth of technology and smartphones, it’s possible to get a quality piano lesson whenever and wherever you want.

I felt it would be a great idea to compare online piano lessons vs in person so you could see what the benefits and drawbacks of each are. Let’s begin with the cost differences between the two.

Online Piano Lessons Vs In Person

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1. Online Piano Lessons Cost Less

An attractive aspect of online piano lessons is how cost effective they are. One can easily get started with an online piano course for as little as $5 depending on the course. Compare that to the in-person lesson which ranges anywhere from $25 – $60 per session. In person piano lessons could easily cost $3000; a steep investment.

While online piano lessons are cheaper it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The less money you pay for online piano lessons, the worse the teaching quality will be. Some of the quality online piano courses like this one offer prepackaged lessons that you can access at any time at your pace.

The downside of that is that there is no additional coaching associated with a cheap piano course. If you want more hands-on training then you’ll have to pay significantly more. Some online piano courses offer different tiered packages with a set number of coaching sessions and supplemental material.

To get the most out of an online piano program you should be prepared to invest at least $200 or more. Compared to a full year’s worth of in-person piano lessons that’s actually quite a bargain.

2. Convenience And Scheduling

kids playing piano

Whether it’s piano lessons or something else, scheduling is absolutely crucial. For piano lessons to be effective there needs to be consistency. That means consistent attendance, flexibility when conflicts arise and more.

I find that online piano lessons are great for those who are looking for the most convenience. If it’s a prepackaged program with a set number of lesson videos and instructions, then those can be watched on your own time. However, when you’re taking webcam lessons then things become more structured.

Many of those programs have a system that you can log in to and pick a date and time for your next lesson. Whether it’s 12 PM or 11 PM at night, you can schedule a lesson pretty much anytime you would like to. Some of those online piano programs allow for future scheduling for the month, and others are on a first come first serve basis.

With in-person lessons, there is usually one lesson offered per week. It’s always scheduled at the same time and lasts for the entire semester. With that sort of schedule, there’s a lot less wiggle room with moving your lesson around and skipping out.

Also, keep in mind that most piano teachers don’t work weekends, so you’re confined to Monday through Friday lessons. There are also hard cutoff times with most teachers ending their last lessons by 8 PM.

Many piano teachers won’t allow you to make lessons up without enough advanced notice. Makeup lessons require additional scheduling, and that’s really tough on local instructors. To help accommodate these teachers will sometimes schedule a few weeks at the end of each semester specifically for makeup lessons. Doing it this way allows students to still take lessons that they’ve paid for but without throwing off a piano teachers schedule entirely.

Cancellations with online piano lessons are a little different. You could cancel with very little notice if you need to and it won’t affect much of anything. These lessons use a credit based system, and online instructors already have a set schedule regardless of who is taking lessons that day.

3. Online Lesson Cover More Material

Some of us are slow learners while others of us are fast-paced. In that regard, online piano lessons are certainly the preference here. Many online piano courses contain vast video libraries that allow pianists to sort through the content they want.

If quarter notes and half notes seem too easy, then you can easily skip onto eighth notes and appoggiaturas. Likewise, the repertoire selections are much more diverse with online lessons. Most people aren’t looking to be concert pianists and just want to play fun music that isn’t Classical.

piano lessons online

Most online piano vendors have libraries of popular tunes ranging from Jazz, Pop, and modern music you hear on the radio today. With some online programs, pianists can get access to libraries that are updated on a weekly basis. While most online piano lessons are taught through rote methods, it’s still a neat way to get exposed to a lot of material all at once.

For those looking to study piano with an in-person instructor, there’s a lot less variety in what material is covered. Most teachers will be Classical specialists, but not have much experience in other areas. It’s hard to find a piano instructor that can teach all of those styles effectively, and that’s where I feel online lessons have an advantage.

The pacing of in-person lessons is often much slower, mostly because teachers have an opportunity to get really specific with what they need you to do. That’s actually not a bad thing, because often times online lessons will skip over the essential things needed to play a piece of music correctly. Taking lessons with someone certainly provides more guidance which I will go over in the next section.

4. In-Person Lessons Offer More Guidance

I touched on this briefly when describing the cost differences between online and in-person piano lessons, but it’s worth digging more into. In-person lessons offer more guidance than online lessons because you have a piano teacher physically there with you.

When a teacher is there they can look at specific things going on with your technique and make much quicker adjustments.

The problem with taking piano lessons online is that you might not even have a teacher looking at anything you’re doing, to begin with! Prepackaged lessons only offer you the basics you need, so if a mistake is being made then there’s no one there to fix this for you. Once the course is over you’re kind of out of luck.

With an in-person lesson though you can always change things up and have the lesson adjusted to the things you want or need to work on.

The more expensive programs will offer Skype piano lessons, but even then it’s still hard for an instructor to correct any technical issues you might be having while playing. Not to mention audio and internet delays (more on this later) can really slow down the effectiveness of online lessons.

Overall, in-person lessons are a more intimate experience, and you’re able to build a relationship with the teacher. These teachers have a better chance to observe your practice habits, and the ability to quickly ask questions is also nice.

If the pianist needs something demonstrated to them then they can get an immediate demonstration at the keyboard vs trying to describe their issue to a teacher through their webcam.

5. Online Lessons Offer More Teacher Variety

With the more expensive online piano lesson programs, there’s more to choose from as far as teachers are concerned. If you’ve been assigned to an instructor that doesn’t work for you then you can simply request another.

Beyond that, there are so many online piano lessons online that you could also just invest in another one that you feel fits your learning style better. With in-person teachers making the switch is not so easy.

Often times prospective piano students have to interview with a teacher to see if they’re going to be a good fit. Even if you’re accepted to a piano teachers roster, you might be on a waitlist, especially if they’re popular in your area.

People who live in smaller cities might not have a huge pool of teachers to choose from to begin with. On top of that, each teacher has their own certifications (more on this later), and those with higher credentials are almost always the toughest to book for piano study.

6. Internet Connections Can Interrupt Your Lessons

Whether it’s a quick YouTube piano lesson or you’re on Skype with your teacher, internet connection issues are something you can’t always control. This can happen on both sides of the spectrum too.

There’s nothing worse than playing a piece with your teacher watching you only for it to stutter and eventually cut out. Even if the lesson does not cut out, those taking online piano lessons should factor in audio delays, stuttering frames, and poor video quality due to bad internet connections.

If you do decide to take online piano lessons, make sure that you’ve got a high-speed connection, and that your instructor also has the same sort of equipment.

Also, keep in mind that trying to reschedule online piano lessons can be a real pain. With online piano lessons, time constraints are really important, so it’s crucial that the lessons begin and end on time.

With in-person lessons, there are no wires, webcams or connection issues to worry about. You either travel to the teachers house, music store, academy, or they travel to you. If for some reason the lesson is canceled or delayed due to weather or conflicts, then it’s much easier to reschedule that lesson as well.

When the lesson is in progress though, the best part is how fluid it will be. You’ll be studying with a real person in real time, so they can see and hear exactly what you’re doing without any distortion or confusion about what exactly you’re doing.

In addition to that, piano students can quickly ask the questions they need and demonstrate their playing without delays and get much quicker responses than they would with an online lesson.

7. Mistakes Are Easier To Correct In Person

piano instructor

The one thing I like the most about taking a piano lesson with someone is that they can quickly fix my problems. With a teacher present, they can clearly see if you’re using incorrect fingering, or if your posture is where it should be.

Beyond that, they can also hear the piano in its actual acoustic setting and help you develop an artistic sound among other things. They can also make marks in your sheet music on the spot too.

With an online teacher that’s not quite the case. If your camera quality is poor, then it may be hard for them to decern what kind of fingering you may be using. Perhaps the camera angle is not wide or tall enough so they can’t see if you’re utilizing the proper pedaling, or if the posture you sit with is correct.

Anytime an online teacher wants to make a correction to your playing chances are you’ll run into some sort of audio delay. Not only is that annoying, but it really destroys the momentum you might have built up during the lesson. Any issues you have in the sheet music will have to be brought up by you as your teacher won’t be able to see your music if they don’t have a copy for themselves too.

Ultimately if you’re in a piano program that does not provide an instructor, then you’re on your own anyway. Many programs are put together in a sloppy way where it’s easy for a beginner pianist to make a mistake.

My advice to you before signing up with any online piano course, make sure to take a few sample lessons to get an idea of what the pace will be, and how detailed the instruction actually is. The more information you have, the better you’ll play.

8. Group Classes Are Only Available In Person

One key component of taking lessons in-person is the ability to do group activities. Group piano lessons are becoming increasingly popular these days; especially for young pianists. Most group settings involve the main instructor bringing all of their students together, and teaching fun musical activities.

Some of these classes involve musical games and others involve ensemble playing. This is a nice chance to work together with other students, engaging about piano and learning together in a positive environment. I’ve found that my own students really look forward to group lessons for the social aspects of it.

Many times it can feel lonely playing the piano because it’s such an individual task. Online piano lessons aren’t going to do much to help alleviate that feeling. It’s very much an on your own task, as you’ll be basically self-teaching yourself.

Looking through various online piano lessons it’s a good idea to see if there are any webinars or events that are offered in the program.

9. You Can Set The Pace With In-Person Lessons

Pacing is everything when you’re trying to learn a new instrument. As a new piano student, it’s important that the pace of learning can fit your specific needs. If you’re able to digest things quickly, then your instructor will be able to move you on to the things you need.

On the other hand, if you’re a slow learner then the pace can also be adjusted in that direction. I find that taking lessons in person allows for the most flexibility in learning. It’s much easier to make demands for what you need at the time.

10. Online Piano Teachers Are Not Often Certified

While online piano lessons are a cheap way to learn the instrument, many times you’re working with a teacher that is not certified. In fact, you really have no idea what kind of qualifications teachers on YouTube have, so you could be getting bad advice and not know it.

Not all online piano lessons are the same though. With some of the more reputable programs, the instructors provide their qualifications so you know exactly what kind of teacher you’re getting.

Sometimes lack of qualifications can be found with less expensive local instructors too. Taking piano with the old lady down the street, or cheap lessons at a music store are prime areas to find unqualified teachers.

To get high-quality instruction you have to really research instructors. Many times these instructors will have their own websites or professional profiles available. Qualified teachers usually have thorough interview processes and tons of supporting paperwork to display their expertise.

What you desire in a piano instructor depends heavily on what you value in each lesson. Perhaps you don’t want to learn anything really difficult and just want to get by playing simple tunes and not be dependent on sheet music. Maybe you want to just learn by ear.

It’s really up to you at this stage what kind of certifications you feel the piano teacher should have. As a general rule, I recommend going with a teacher that at least has a college degree in music so that you’re getting solid training.

11. Recording & Replaying Lessons

A really neat thing with online lessons is the ability to record and replay that lesson. Whether this was with the online instructor or a video package, it’s really nice to be able to replay it as many times as needed.

This allows you to focus on specific parts of the lesson that gives you trouble, and you can even ask the instructor questions or to repeat something again. Most in-person piano instructors don’t allow recording for a variety of reasons.

12. It’s Easy To Get Distracted With Online Lessons

Anytime I’m on the computer I find myself getting distracted. I log on to take care of one task but easily find myself sorting through Facebook messages and emails. As you can imagine those same distractions are easy to get into when taking piano lessons online. Those taking lessons online should try their best to keep their social media profiles closed as to not get distracted.

With in-person lessons, this really is not an issue. Most teachers will require that smartphones and devices be turned off during the lesson. This is a good thing because it allows students to focus entirely on the task at hand; playing the piano effectively.

Anytime you play the piano, the environment should be distraction free. That means no TV, no gadgets, and quietness in the room so you can practice the right way.

13. In-Person Piano Lessons Are More Motivating

If you’ve ever taken online lessons before, then you know how easy it is to get distracted and bored with it after a while. Once you’ve been through all of the videos it can seem like there’s not much incentive to practice.

With online piano lessons, too much flexibility can be a bad thing. If you know that you can take lessons at any time then it’s easy to start pushing them to the side. One cancellation turns into another and another; eventually leading to you not taking things seriously anymore.

Taking lessons with a teacher in-person is much more motivating than taking them online. Teachers take lessons with their students very seriously and have very strict demands when it comes to scheduling and commitment.

The lessons plans aren’t just some pre-packaged deal like you would find with online piano lessons. Instead, they are completely customized to each student and are fluid in nature. As you progress in your lessons those lesson plans continue to develop, which means you need to constantly practice to meet very specific goals.

For a beginner pianist, it’s important to have this kind of learning structure. I will note that some online piano courses provide this kind of structure as long as there are one to one sessions made available.

Are Online Piano Lessons Worth It?

In the end, online piano lessons are worth it if you want to take a quick dive into learning the piano. It’s a nice way to get your feet wet and see if it’s really for you. While many online programs offer one to one sessions via Skype, it will never quite replace what in-person instruction can do.

Having an instructor there working with you every step of the way is an important piece to the puzzle, especially if you plan to take the piano seriously. Rather than joining some popular piano program that’s cheap, I recommend reaching out to individual pianists and instructors in your local area.

You can find many websites like this one where you can reach out to the pianist and check out their credentials. You would be surprised how many of them are willing to provide online piano instruction via Skype for a reasonable fee.

This, in my opinion, is the best way to study piano online because you’ll get the most custom instruction available, and it’ll be with a vetted professional. Eventually, you should move on to in-person lessons as you progress on the instrument.

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