Questions, Technology

Forum Q&A | Piano Lessons via Skype

Last week’s Forum Q&A post was about saying “no” to potential students, and we received some great responses!  Click here to check them out.  Here’s today’s discussion topic:

Advances in technology over the past few years have changed the way we live in many ways.  Online video conferencing services, for example, allow us to chat face-to-face with friends and family across the globe….and conduct piano lessons?!  With internet services becoming faster and audio compression quality also improving, offering lessons via video conferencing services such as Skype is becoming a more and more viable option.  It certainly is something for piano teachers to consider.

So, I’ve been doing some research to see what I could unearth about the set-up, feasibility, and success of Skype lessons.  Here’s what I found:

So, what are your thoughts?

Do you think Skype is a viable option as a way for independent music teachers to offer lessons?  What are the biggest adjustments or changes that the teacher and student would have to make in order for Skype lessons to be successful?  What pros and cons can you identify?  Would you ever offer lessons via Skype? 

Leave your comments below.

Update from Joy: I’ve decided to take the plunge and start offering live online piano lessons!  Check out the link to read more about me as a teacher and about how online piano lessons work.

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14 thoughts on “Forum Q&A | Piano Lessons via Skype”

  1. I think there is potential for Skype piano lessons under certain circumstances. The age and level of the student makes a huge difference. I tried teaching three former piano students over Skype, and it was especially difficult for the youngest (a level 1 student) because she wasn’t solid on her notes and location on the keyboard, and if she made a mistake it took longer for me to explain how to fix it. That was something I hadn’t factored in—simply explaining things takes longer, and requires the student’s knowledge of things like measures. I found I couldn’t teach as many songs per lesson because it required more time on each one. If I quickly wanted to point something out, I had to tell them the measure number, let them find it and then explain what I needed to tell.

    So I personally think Skype lessons are more beneficial for piano students who are older and thus can do a little more on their own. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginning students, but perhaps other teachers have been more successful than I! I believe the option for Skype lessons has to be determined by the level of the student and the age. It seems like it would be very difficult to teach advanced technique, but Shirley Kirsten in the video above did a great job at explaining things over Skype. I don’t know that I could do that.

    I might consider Skype under certain circumstances, but it’s not ideal. In person is the most beneficial way to teach.

    1. I wanted to add this blog link that discusses the video supplementation aspect of Skyped lessons. I have been exchanging videos with an 8-year old student’s dad, and he sends me samples of his daughter’s practice sessions. This is in between Skypes. Today I learned that the student is only 8, and I am blown away!

      This is not a typical 8-year old, as I have worked with over years as a private teacher. The previous you tube upload showed this child playing Chopin’s Waltz in A minor after a short exposure to the piece.. And now she is smoothly playing Clementi Sonatina in C, Op. 36 no. 3, first movement.

      So when you get a student like this, it is a challenge to tailor make her lessons given her talent and amazing focus, plus support and healthy involvement of dad.

      Today I sent a follow-up video going over pentascales and how we do them.
      It is pretty amazing that the child can expand to 32nds legato and staccato with ease. (first exposure)

      My video sent to parent:

  2. I was a skeptic before I was invited by a parent in Oregon to first share videos on a common private you tube channel, as I was at the time NOT set up for SKYPED piano lessons. The videos I received from a 10 year old practicing the works of Chopin and Clementi, allowed me to send responsive videos back which pinpointed technical and musical areas needing remediation. Once I bought my Imac 21, I took the leap to SKYPE not knowing what was on the horizon.

    I must say the experience has been a pleasant surprise. For one thing, the transmission has been good on both ends, and I have been able to take the further step in REAL time to reinforce what played out on the videos. I have to admit that the parent, who was greatly involved in the lessons, and video sharing, helped the process along.

    He was very tech savvy and knew for one thing how everything worked sparing me the agony of fumbling with my mouse when that SKYPE ring ushered in the screen with the pupil’s image, her piano, and mine in a small square underneath.

    So having given THREE SKYPED lessons to date, including one transmitted in from the Bay area, (a current student wanted an extra lesson during the week, and will make this a regular practice) I can say that it can be productive and further the educational process.

    I purposely videotaped two of these lessons in progress to give a glimpse into this SKYPED Universe. I will be blogging along as things play out.

    For real beginners, especially children, I would NOT recommend SKYPED lessons because I believe a teacher needs the physical proximity to demonstrate hand position etc and make those immediate adjustments..

    But for the more advanced players, and even at the Intermediate levels it can work.

    I would also say that the video supplements really bolster skyping because the student can repetitively watch these to his best advantage, in between SKYPES.

  3. I agree with Allison about being selective when accepting students for online music lessons. However, I don’t this is any different from teaching in home music lessons. It’s only fair to the student that you let them know up front if you think music lessons will work for them.

    I have found with online music lessons that internet speed for both the teacher and the student is quite important. But, wither way setting up the system is quite easy.

    The biggest benefit of all is the fact that you never have to leave your home to take music lessons. For people in rural communities this all of a sudden gives them access to a wide range of teachers.

    Thanks for the great post.
    Jordan Stevens, Chief Noisemaker at CJSmusic

  4. I am developing a brand new online platform connecting music teachers with students interested in lessons over skype.

    My team and I believe the online teaching revolution will become very popular soon and we want to help teachers find students.

    If you are interested in joining the community and finding students then please register your interest here :

    Luke Grana

  5. I have friends who are having their piano lessons via skype and I can see their fast improvement. I do think that it is a good way of having a piano lesson.

  6. I teach piano online using Skype for quite some time and, believe it or not, I can witness faster improvements than with “traditional-in person” lessons (with the same students, of course).
    It may be that the lesson is more focused ( no chit-chat, for ex.) , that the student has to pay more attention to instructions “from the other end of the cable”, or that he/she are alone with the instrument, without being distracted by a teacher-presence.

  7. Hi! I love your blog!

    I am trying to record some of my lessons for a DVD. Where do I find one of those onscreen midi piano visualizers so I can put that at the top of the final video and the students can see the actual notes being played clearly. I have searched and searched ..

    thx! 🙂

      1. Is that the only one you know of? Do you know what I would search for? All I get from my searches is more teachers offering online classes or teaching software. I’m trying to find one that looks a little more professional/serious. Thank you so much for replying.


  8. Here’s an online piano course starting at very beginner and going all the way up to advanced. It includes online videos and is a kindle / device download, so it might help you out. If you catch it this Thursday (tomorrow) it’s available for free for the first 24 hours starting at midnight, PST. Check it out. I hope it helps. I’m a wind player myself and only know a few basics on piano, so I’m seeing where this course takes me. It’s supposed to be equal to 5 years of lessons.

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