• Tatiana Boison

Can anyone learn to play piano online?

In the current crisis many people are switching to online tutoring and, naturally, many question whether it is possible to successfully learn to play an instrument through online lessons. My opinion on that is yes and no - it all depends on the age of a student. Yes, age, not the level of ability. Young children have a short focus span and might find it difficult to accommodate information through virtual mode, they get easily distracted, whether they are beginners or quite advanced in their playing. Older children are able to stay focused for longer periods and have greater self motivation to continue with the process, and adults can learn very quickly and easily irrespective of their starting level of ability. Another important point to consider would be geographic location - imagine that you no longer have to be physically present where the best teacher is, you can reach out and tap into their knowledge from the comfort of your home, wherever you are in the world! (I have taught across different time zones - there is an interesting dimension to, for instance, teaching a student in Japan at 3 o'clock in the morning). Nowadays technology serves us all, and that extends into the world of music too, however much some sceptics would argue that it needs a "touch and feel" enabling setting. Think of saved time, (and money) on travelling costs and a far greater flexibility in scheduling your lessons than that, which requires physical presence. In my practice, paradoxically, I saw a far greater, (and faster) progress in my students' playing through online lessons than when we meet in person. I have been contemplating on what possible reasons could be and came up with a few: far greater confidence in playing your own instrument at all times, (as pianists tend to play on different instruments whenever they change location, it poses many issues, especially when it comes to playing in public or for an exam on an instrument unfamiliar to your fingers, and hence compromising the quality of the performance and knocking down confidence); your teacher will be correcting mistakes by showing through playing their own piano on the other end, (many will be able to relate to the fact that often piano lessons are taught on a single instrument played by a student, which minimises the chance for vital demonstration during the lessons); more informal setting - as I found with especially new pupils, having the safety of the digital distance can make students feel more relaxed and therefore, more focused. And there is of course a great benefit of having a "recorded" lesson - while using zoom technology, for instance, you can go back and watch your own lesson to further understand what needs to be corrected and improved - it will also give a student a chance to hear their own playing back, which does not normally happen in a classroom lesson scenario.

I could probably go on elaborating on many other aspects, (which will probably follow in my next blog..) of advantages in learning to play an instrument through online lessons, but hopefully there were just a few and just enough thoughts to prompt our consideration for this relatively new trend.

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