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Online Lessons vs Live Lessons

Updated: Jul 13

Are There Any Differences?


Current Situation


As most of you know, in light of Covid-19, measures have been taken by the Singapore Government to induce a lockdown (Circuit Breaker). Well, Circuit Breaker has been lifted but who are we kidding? Retail shops are still closed, we still can’t dine outside and more importantly, still NO MUSIC LESSONS!!! The truth is that most music teachers and students had to stop lessons since mid April and we really don’t know when we can resume live lessons. Maybe when the Vaccine is found? I mean who really knows. Others have resorted to other means, like online lessons. But really, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE? IS IT WORTH IS? CAN WE LEARN ANYTHING FROM IT? WHAT DO I NEED? So many questions and yet nobody can give you a straight answer. Well, that what I’m here for. Debunking all the pros and cons of Online Lessons vs Live Lessons.


What do you need?


In order to have an online lesson, there are a few things that we need. We obviously need our music instrument and music scores. The internet definitely! And lastly, a phone, tablet or a notebook (Laptop). Then you’re all set. Some people might ask, what about computers? Don’t they function the same as a notebook? Why I do not recommend computers is because firstly, they are not portable. Secondly, most of them do not even have an in built camera or a mic. Lastly, some don’t even have WIFI. So if you were having a flute lesson, it probably would be okay to have a computer, but if you were having maybe drum set lessons, are you going to move the computer near to your drum set or vice versa? I’ve seen some tutors use Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex etc. The more convenient option would be of course WhatsApp, Telegram or Skype. From my personal experience, I don’t think there’s a huge difference honestly. But I do know that you have to pay a subscription for some versus the others.


Cons of having Online Lessons


Obviously, there are some limitations with regards to online lessons. This challenges cannot be ignored. One specific hurdle is the sound quality going through the system. For example, what the teacher listens to is not what the student have played. Well, there’s no easy way around it. Intonation and sound quality are two major factors that cannot really be solved. However, there are ways to mitigate it. If you are learning the piano or drum set, this wouldn’t be that much of a problem because you cannot change the intonation voluntarily on the piano and a drum set is basically an unpitched instrument. For other instruments, you can purchase a good quality mic so that the sound translates better. Secondly, technical difficulties due to internet connection or not knowing how to use certain applications. We can’t really do much about slow internet connections but usually that doesn’t happen. As for video conferencing applications, most are quite user friendly and there are step by step guides on how to use them. If not, there is probably someone that has made a video on how to use the particular application on Youtube.



Pros on having Online Lessons


Firstly, we can have online lessons in the comfort of our own homes. The interaction with your tutor should not be any different from a live lesson. Online lessons will be just as fun, engaging and interactive as a live lesson. The materials learnt and used will be similar. Less travelling time is required for either the teacher or the student. No more carrying of heavy instruments to and from your home! This has to be a plus. Lastly, because of minor limitations and elimination of travelling time, most online lessons tend to be cheaper than live lessons. Lastly, it certainly is more convenient and less of a hassle to have Online Lessons.



Are Online Lessons worth it?


Honestly, I cannot tell you whether online lessons are worth it or not. You would only know after you have experienced it for yourself. As everyone learns differently, its is difficult to give you a definite yes or no. If you were learning the trumpet and wanted to work with your tutor on sound for instance, probably online lessons wouldn’t be ideal for you. But if its for rhythm, musicality, instrumental techniques or learning a new song/piece, I believe online lessons would work just as well as live lessons. The truth is that the only way to find out whether something works for you or not, is to try it out yourself. Give yourself roughly 3 to 5 lessons and see if it works. If it does, great! If it doesn’t, you’ll know why you didn’t like it and what didn’t work. In the meantime, stay safe and if you do have any questions, send it over and I’ll try to answer them!

Foong Jun Jie 14 June

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