The year 2020 fast-forwarded the entire evolution of learning. We have been looking for efficient ways of studying at home, not only academic subjects but arts too. Just slightly more than a year ago, online music learning would have probably sounded extremely challenging. Now it is becoming a norm. For most people, switching to home study was not their choice but their need, and they cannot wait to get back to in-person tuition. Others, even if not very excited at first, embraced the opportunity to discover new ways and techniques and – believe it or not - found some notable advantages of learning at home.
But for once, let‘s leave the topic of pandemic alone. Even before it all began, the trend was getting there: with the advances of technology and the opportunities that it brings, and with many other life and business areas through remote connection benefiting from engagement of geographically widespread comunities, it was getting clearer and clearer that music education needs to step up its game.
At this point, one must admit - there is no exchange for in-person teaching, live contact and music making. But I am taking the risk in saying that in-person teaching is like what we now know as a snail post: email can replace its purpose but not its magic. While this might have been a questionably weak comparison, it hopefully conveys my string of thought: in-person teaching is certainly needed (and will hopefully never go extinct), but looking from where we are now - it will stay rather as a contribution, a piece of exciting luxury, a special card. It is no doubt vitally needed, but our unstoppably moving world is giving some hints that in-person might not stay as a main way of tuition.
Given such perspective, this current text is no doubt failing to incorporate at least mildly traceable dash of tears and misery, contrary to what we are used to. For a legit reason - I must be to too occupied looking at the new perspective on music learning that would stop us thinking about the mere survival of the arts and push into seeing fresh opportunities for advancement.
Typical way of learning music: the struggles
Practicing can be an isolating activity
Having to choose from the local (but not necessarily the most helpful) tuition, or having to travel excessive distances
When starting the piano from scratch, pieces and exercises are simple-sounding and might not be very exciting musically
It is vital to learn steady pulse keeping but practicing with the metronome does not feel like a very musical activity
Playing only solo does not train how to adjust to the music played by others
Never-ending expenses: Book level 1, book level 2, book level 3, Level 4... Level 120. Scales and exercises. Piano music.. You got the idea. Your wallet gets thinner by a good bit.
Have you ever thought of how much waste your learning produces?
Moving house? Relocation with lots of music = boxes boxes boxes + some injuries lifting and carrying them (I have been there!)
Learning a piece with a load of inaccuracies, then having to re-learn those mistakes once your teacher spots them
Difficulty reading music fluently
Having to accomodate your teacher‘s availability (which is usually tight)
Last but certainly not least: instrumental in-person classes are usually worth every penny. But for many people they are very difficul to afford
New way of learning: the solutions
Practicing with the accompaniment
Having your process tracked and displayed
Getting rewards for your achievements
Online learning allows you to access tuition regardless of geographical location – you can search for the teacher that provides most qualified support
Practicing with the accompaniment provides an engaging experience and teaches you to stay in togetherness with the underlying music (but is much more entertaining than playing with the metronome)
Turning to digital resources (PDFs and interactive formats) to at least partly replace physical books and sheet music. Go paperless.
Your digital library can contain everything you need and still be only as large as your tablet sleeve.
Having a way for your mistakes to be indicated instantly, which means learning everything correctly from the very start.
Efficient way of improving your sight reading with exercises that are being tracked, and with your progress reported
Managing yourself in your own time – learning and practicing without dependancy of your teacher's schedule
Access to teaching that is not costly