I like to think that online lessons are good; I have been teaching students online for years. However, many students and teachers believe that online lessons are somehow less successful than in-person lessons. Let’s take a look together at the pros and cons of taking and teaching singing lessons online.
Quality of the Instruction: Its a Tie
The most important part of a singing lesson is the quality of the instruction that you are receiving. Looking at an individual teacher or student, there is no difference in their quality, whether they are in person or online. The only exception can be that some students are particularly distractible and do not have a quiet space for lessons. A change in time or location at home can usually correct this.
Audio Quality: In-Person Wins
Video calls have come a long way, especially in the last few years. But no, no real-time software will allow a teacher to hear a student with the same clarity of sound as being in the same room. This is unlikely to be a challenge to receiving quality instruction virtually. The audio quality can be pretty good if you use an external microphone, headphones, and have a decent internet connection.
As a teacher of online lessons, the biggest difference for me is actually in the audio delay. As instantaneous as the internet can feel, trying to treat an online lesson like an in-person lesson will quickly show that it is not. In-person, you might be used to your teacher playing a lot of exercises or accompaniments while you are singing. Online that really is not going to work out well. I play static notes and chords for exercises but utilize accompaniment tracks played by my students during repertoire work. While this seems like a downside, it actually is a benefit. You are paying for me (or your teacher) to focus on improving your singing, not on playing piano. No matter how talented we may seem on the piano, it takes some (or most) of our attention away from you to play that accompaniment.
A note to teachers, as clear of a winner, in-person lessons seem to be in this category unless you teach semi-professional or professional singers; this is unlikely ever to be an issue. And many professional singers take virtual lessons while on tour without any trouble with teachers like Mary Saunders-Barton. Something else to be aware of, you won’t be able to give in the moment feedback without stopping the student. Keep paper and a pen handy to take notes so you can provide strategic feedback each time you do stop the student.
I have never found a difference in a student’s outcomes after a period of lessons that can be tied to if the lesson is in-person or online. Far more important is if the student practices between lessons or not. We can get into a lengthy debate about the quality of that practice, but the first part really is if consistent practice happens or not. If you are taking lessons “just for fun,” it’s really up to you how much you practice, but if you want to improve, it really is non-negotiable. Have you practiced today?
Cost & Availability: Online Wins
1:1 instruction is expensive, and depending on where you live, lessons can be extremely expensive. That expense is without considering the time cost of traveling across town to an excellent teacher. Online lessons are an equalizer because excellent teachers worldwide are available to teach you no matter your price range. Did I mention you don’t have to leave your house? That’ll save you an extra thirty to sixty minutes every week. You can use that time to practice to get everything you can from your lessons.
Teachers: If you are in a more expensive market, you may want only to teach lessons during non-peak hours to maximize your late afternoon/early evening/weekend lesson time. But as the saying goes, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.
Safety: Online Wins
I hate that this is even a consideration, but it is. While neither in-person nor online lessons are completely safe, the distance of online lessons offers significant protection over potentially going to a teacher’s studio or house.
Parents: you should be present for in-person lessons and keep an eye or ear on online lessons.
Teachers: Online lessons are also safer for you. It is a good idea online to record lessons for students, but be aware in some states; recordings are legally required if the student is a minor.
Online Lessons for the Win
If you are on the fence between trying online lessons or finding a teacher locally, just go for whichever fits you best. Online lessons will give you access to the best teachers no matter where you live and at the best prices. If you don’t have a space to sing at home, in-person lessons may be the best option. What really matters is to get started and sing.
If you are looking for singing lessons, I hope you will consider lessons with me. I have been singing my whole life and have been teaching for over a decade. I specialize in musical theatre, classical, and voice science. Even if you are an experienced singer, let’s do a check-up and make sure you are as healthy as possible. You can schedule your first lesson on the homepage.