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Online Music Lessons and Tutorials: How Do They Work?

For those who want to learn to play an instrument, improve their skills or explore music theory, online music lessons or tutorials may fit their needs. Recently there has been an influx in virtual learning methods for online music lessons that have gradually taken the place of print-based online music lessons.

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When considering enrolling in online music lessons, it can be helpful to find out about the program options, course materials, admissions requirement and instrument specialization possibilities.

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How Online Music Lessons Work

Free online music lessons tend to provide learning materials in print format, while for-credit offerings may utilize videos and interactive instruction in a virtual classroom. Many interactive aids are provided to supplement online music instruction.

Program Options

Online music tutorials are offered mainly through private individual or company websites. Students can learn how to play an instrument and read music. Both free and fee-based music lessons are available on the Internet. Though not common, some colleges and private music schools do provide online certificate programs or courses for the musician who is serious about completing a sequence of classes to improve his or her musical ability. There are also a number of institutions that offer online courses in music theory or focus on the development of certain genres, such as jazz or rock music.

Instrument Options

Online instruction is available for almost any kind of instrument and for individuals of all experience levels. Some websites are dedicated to lessons strictly in music notation and theory. Instruction in various genres of music, such as rock, blues, jazz and classical, is typically integrated into such lessons. Following are common examples of instruments for which one can find beginner, intermediate and advanced online lessons:

  • Piano
  • Acoustic guitar
  • Electric guitar
  • Bass Guitar
  • Voice
  • Violin
  • Mandolin
  • Drums
  • Trumpet
  • Banjo
  • Saxophone

Course Materials

Because practice plays an important part in learning a musical instrument, most online music tutorial websites offer materials, either online or downloadable, to help students practice in between lessons. For instance, music tutorials delivered in print format often include audio clips to accompany music notation or video clips to demonstrate the specific technique or song being taught. In general, practice materials may include the following:

  • Practice exercises
  • Sheet music
  • Online tuners
  • Chord diagrams
  • Audio music clips

Admissions Requirements

Admission requirements for distance learning music lessons or classes vary widely. A continuing education program or non-credit class may have few if any strict eligibility guidelines. Formal academic programs, however, could require students to have some level of proficiency in playing a particular instrument.

Technology Requirements

Students will likely need to have their own instruments, equipment and microphone in order to record themselves playing for evaluation by instructors. In addition, they need computer hardware and software that can support online learning. Online programs typically specify the basic features that a student's computer must have, which can include:

  • An up-to-date Windows or Mac operating system
  • High-speed Internet connection
  • A certain amount of memory
  • Office software
  • Antivirus software
  • Web camera
  • Headphones and speakers
  • Microphone
  • CD/DVD drive

Although online music lessons can be hard to find, there is some availability for students to learn to play instruments and study music-related subjects via online platforms. Some lessons are intended only for personal enrichment, while others can provide credit toward an academic credential.

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