Online guitar lessons have gotten a bit of a bad rap lately, and for good reason. To aspiring guitarists on a budget, learning from free videos on YouTube seems like a great deal. Students with a little bit of money to spend, but not a lot of time, might try lessons on Skype. Both students inevitably end up with guitars gathering dust while they get caught up in the rest of the modern world. With the all of the information and knowledge easily accessible through the internet, you’d think everyone would be able to play guitar like a pro. Why are online lessons failing guitar students, and how can we make it better?
Problem #1: One-size-fits-all instruction
Pre-recorded music lessons on DVDs or on YouTube are designed to work for as many people as possible. Students of all ages and interests all start on the same “Lesson One” video. Impatient students often end up falling into the “I already know that” trap, where you keep skipping around until you’re totally lost and frustrated. Or, you get so bogged down with the simplistic folk songs in the first beginner videos that you never make it to the songs that you actually want to play.
Problem #2: No Feedback
When learning from a video, it’s easy to get stuck in a loop, rewinding the same clip over and over again to try to figure out why the chord you’re playing just doesn’t sound right. Without somebody to point you in the right direction, you can end up making mistakes without even realizing it. Some people give up on guitar because it seems like it’s just too hard, when in reality, they were just putting their arm in the wrong place.
Problem #3: Lack of Commitment
Self-paced learning requires a level of internal motivation that a lot of us just don’t have. We might make a plan to do a lesson every week, but it’s hard to stick with it when there isn’t anybody to hold you accountable. You might drop big bucks on the perfect “Teach Yourself Guitar” course, but you aren’t going to learn anything if you aren’t using it.
Solution #1: Get real, personalized attention with a webcam instructor
Webcam lessons are a great solution to many of the problems presented by video lessons. Even though your lesson is over the internet, your instructor will be able to direct it towards YOU, not just any cookie-cutter guitar student. Your instructor will see you play live and tell you exactly what’s wrong. No need to worry about practicing the wrong thing and then having to break the habit. Webcam lessons rely on keeping a schedule between you and your instructor, which helps provide a level of accountability and consistency that you may not be able to get on your own. You also aren’t limited to the best instructor in your neighborhood; you can get the best instructor in the world. If you live in a teepee in the mojave desert and want to learn mariachi guitar, you can now be connected with THE mariachi guy in Spain. Instructor finder sites like are great for locating the best webcam instructor for you.
Solution #2: Take advantage of technology
You don’t need to struggle with Skype or low-fi YouTube videos to learn through the web. In fact, online guitar lessons can be just as good, if not better, than face-to-face lessons. In-person lessons will always have advantages that can’t be replicated through a computer screen, but webcam lessons can integrate technology in ways that enhance learning beyond the capabilities of your typical classroom. Webcam lessons are now supported by high definition, low latency, browser-based applications with nothing to download or install. They come with neat widgets, like interactive voice pitch detectors, tuners, metronomes, chord chart displays, and scale generators. They come with live speech language translation. You can even record your sessions and post your progress automatically to Facebook.
Solution #3: Set up your workspace to learn
Just because your lessons are online doesn’t mean that you don’t have to take them seriously. First, get the gear: You’ll need a decent webcam, headphones, and a high speed internet (at least 5 up and 20 down). Then, set up your lesson area to minimize distractions. Pick somewhere quiet and private where you can focus without interruption. Keep your phone silent and away. Close all other windows on your computer and turn off pop-up notifications. If you give your guitar lessons your undivided attention, you will learn much faster and have more fun.
To get started taking webcam lessons with a world-class instructor using the latest technology, check out Taylor Robinson Music Lessons. Rock on!