Guest Post By: Chloe Brittain
Online music education is rapidly evolving, with new programs, courses, and technologies being released continually. From ocarina lessons to composing film music in the style of Hans Zimmer, you might be surprised what musical avenues you can explore with a Google search.
In addition to its diversity of content, the online medium provides a lot of scope for different learning styles. There’s something for everyone – interactive software, self-guided video courses, online private lessons, and live group workshops. Many online learning platforms also host thriving student communities, providing plenty of opportunity for peer collaboration and critique.
Here we’ll look at some of the top online resources for improving your musical skills – or learning completely new ones – from the comfort of home.
Online music courses and MOOCs
If you prefer learning through video-based tutorials, visit Udemy for a massive catalog of free and premium courses in subjects like piano, music theory, music production, and even more obscure areas of study, such as traditional Irish singing and world percussion.
Another good source of free courses is Coursera, which lists MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) from top-rated institutions like Berklee College of Music. At the time of this writing, Berklee offers MOOCs in areas like electronic music production, music theory and composition, music business, guitar, and vocal recording technology.
In addition to the above resources, many online music production courses have cropped up in recent years. If you’re trying to choose between a few different courses, you can usually find lots of student feedback on sites like TrustPilot and Reddit to help in your decision.
Interactive piano and keyboard learning software
Music education technology has come a long way in recent years. Today’s piano learning apps employ artificial intelligence and gamification elements that help you advance your skills faster and motivate you to practice more. While many of these apps require a USB/MIDI connection so you can play along with the moving score, others are able to pick up sound via your device’s microphone and can be used with acoustic instruments.
Some piano learning apps, such as Skoove, offer free plans.
Free online guitar lessons for beginner and advanced guitarists
Many people dream of learning this versatile instrument, and there have never been so many useful learning tools for aspiring (and accomplished) guitarists.
For free online guitar and ukulele lessons, check out JustinGuitar.com. The site, launched in 2003 by Australian guitarist Justin Sandercoe, includes over 1,300 beginner through advanced video lessons covering a wide range of musical styles like blues, rock, folk, and jazz. If you’re new to the guitar, you’ll want to start with the popular Beginner Guitar Course, which will guide you through fundamentals such as chords, strumming techniques, and fingerstyle guitar. Justin is known for his fun and friendly teaching style, and the courses are designed to feel like private lessons and help you progress quickly.
One-one-one music lessons and live group workshops
While self-guided courses and interactive apps can open the door to new musical skills, there’s no substitute for having a human teacher to watch and hear you play and give feedback on your technique.
Since the start of the pandemic, many top music artists have been offering one-on-one lessons or group workshops via Skype or Zoom. To find out who is teaching online, visit the websites of your favorite musicians, or better yet, ask around in online music forums and Facebook groups. You’ll find that many students are happy to share their experience and offer recommendations for a good instructor.
There are also services that connect music teachers with students for online lessons. One such site is Wyzant, with typical rates for music lessons ranging from $30-$50 an hour. (Of note, Wyzant also gives you the option to connect with local teachers for in-person tutoring.)
Online training for traditional instruments and playing styles
In this section I’d like to mention a couple resources covering more niche or traditional instruments and playing styles. The following sites offer subscription-based video training at reasonable prices:
- Online Academy of Irish Music. If you’ve ever wanted to join in and play along at an Irish pub session, this online learning platform will give you the skills and confidence you need. In video-based courses taught by renowned Irish musicians, you’ll learn Irish music technique and ornamentation while building your repertoire of popular trad tunes. You don’t need to be able to read music to enjoy the classes, as Irish music is learned by listening. Among the 14 instruments covered are tin whistle, bodhran, bouzouki, flute, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and uilleann pipes.
- Peghead Nation. This site provides beginner through advanced video instruction in “roots” music – bluegrass, folk, Irish, blues, jazz, etc. – taught by world-class teachers. Instruments covered include guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, dobro, ukulele, and upright bass.
There’s never been a better time to become a self-taught musician. Today’s online music learning resources are carefully engineered to help you progress efficiently in your musicianship and, more importantly, have tons of fun while doing it!
Chloe Brittain blogs about online music courses and other learning resources at Just Music Stuff. She is currently learning Irish flute and guitar online.