Internet learning & self-teaching


Should I work with a teacher for guitar lessons or piano lessons? Or should I use the countless tutorials available on the internet?


The faculty at Cockeysville Music Education Center does not discourage students from learning off the internet!  However, we’d like to take this opportunity to point out some things about studying an instrument to consider so that you get the most out of the experience.


Watching a video online and copying what you see by rote can be a valuable tool for learning new material quickly and easily.  But there are also pitfalls that your internet experience cannot help you with.  So we encourage you to consider these topics and perhaps then work with a teacher to enhance your internet experience.


Every musician has a different size and shaped hand.  What works to execute the music on the video might not be the best way for your hand to accomplish the same sound.  A teacher can watch what you’re doing, and help you adjust your hand to do it most efficiently.  In worse case scenarios, using your hand incorrectly can cause injury to the small muscles and tendons in the hand and wrist.  A qualified teacher can help you avoid this.


A teacher can also help you learn to  hear tone quality that the speakers on your computer/phone/pad can’t convey.  This can make whatever you’ve learned to play more beautiful for your ears and those of anyone listening to you, enhancing your musical experience and bringing your playing to a higher level.


Sometimes, no matter how many times we watch or listen to an example on the internet, we simply cannot copy it.  Either we are too slow, too physically awkward, or simply not coordinated enough to recreate what we’re seeing and hearing.  A teacher can help you break things down into the smaller steps necessary to get you over those stumbling blocks.


Failure and practice frustration are never addressed in videos demonstrating how to play something.  All you see it the demonstrator’s end result.  But frustration and sometimes failure are common components of learning and skill building.  A live person who has been through these experiences can guide you through them to the success you seek.


Music is an expression of human experience and emotions.  Interaction with another human while trying to accomplish this raises our ability to use our music to communicate these things.  Having someone with a trained ear to listen to what you are doing and help you find your own best musical voice is something that no internet experience can achieve.  Even when skyping, the sound does not come through like it will sitting “live” with someone.