Online vs. In-person music lessons?

July 29, 2021

Music Lessons in NYC - Online Music Lessons - Piano Lessons NYC

You may not have known this, but online and virtual music lessons existed long before the pandemic hit. These types of virtual lessons accounted for maybe less than 1% of all music instruction.

We can say with confidence that the entire music lesson industry was saved by the technology of remote teaching! As COVID-19 began to make its way around the world. When the pandemic hit, the majority of music teachers – especially instructors in New York City – dove immediately into teaching online.

As one can imagine, there are both advantages and disadvantages to learning music online vs learning in person at our music school in NYC. Whether you are starting your lessons from scratch or thinking about switching from online to in-person, it’s important to have an honest perspective on the differences between the two.

Good Things about Taking Online Music Lessons

The biggest benefit of online music lessons is that they are a very convenient substitute for in person lessons. Not having to travel to your music lesson plays in favor for both students and teachers!  Traveling music teachers, specifically, started saving dozens of commuting hours and large costs every week. 

Another benefit of learning online is that students and teachers who are not located in the same geographical area can work together. On a large scale, this happened for the first time in the history of music lessons and an entirely new group of students has been created. This gives music students in rural and remote areas access to a level of instruction they may never have had access to otherwise!

Additionally, in areas such as New York City where we have winter weather, online music lessons are an excellent backup option for bad weather days!  No traveling in snow or rain to get to your music lesson – just travel across your house to your piano!

And finally, the most obvious benefit to learning music online: it’s the safest option during a worldwide pandemic.  Students and music teachers alike are thankful for the chance to continue to learn music while staying as safe as possible.

Cons of Learning Music Online

  1. While online music lessons are pretty close to the experience of learning in person, it’s not exact! Current technology doesn’t allow the teacher and student to hear each other fully in “real time.”

2. With online lessons on zoom or other platforms, there is a slight time delay. This makes it impossible to play online simultaneously. Collaborative music making becomes incredibly difficult or impossible with this time delay. For voice lessons, it is especially difficult, because the teacher cannot play along with the student as they sing!

3. Another con is that the average setup has a drastic lack in sound quality. It’s possible to edit some settings, but the listening experience will never be the same as live in person sound. The overall quality and the lack of dynamics specifically make it difficult for the music teacher to have a full understanding of what the student is doing and what should be corrected.

4. Visibility can also be an issue when teaching online. The majority of students taking virtual lessons have only one web camera, or are using a cell phone to connect to their lessons. Because of this, teachers have only one set view angle of the student, which makes it very challenging to address the proper technique and body position.

5. For instruments that have to be tuned (such as violins, guitar, etc), the students have to do that physically themselves. Even with the verbal help of the teacher, learning to tune an instrument takes a longer time and often doesn’t produce the desired result.

6. Online lessons can be draining for both teacher and student. Sometimes, young children also have a bit harder of a time focusing on a screen. Even adults are tired of screens and Zoom meetings !


Pros of In Person Music Lessons in NYC

  1. In person music lessons allow for the full experience of interaction between a teacher and a student. Besides the inarguable advantage of the full visual and audio input, there is also a sense of full human interaction that is not matched by the digital experience even with current technologies. 
  2. The instructor and the student can play/sing simultaneously. This is a huge pro because it allows the teacher to play one part while the student plays another part. A teacher can also accompany the student or clap the rhythm in time. All sorts of rhythmic work is achieved more easily with in-person lessons.
  3. Visibility isn’t an issue in live in person music lessons.When they are in teh same room as a student, the music teacher can check technique and other important aspects of learning an instrument more readily: correct posture, hand position, and fingering.  Many of these are simply impossible to truly notice from the single viewpoint of the camera.
  4. With in-person lessons, there isn’t the extra challenge of guessing how loud or quiet the student is playing or singing. Hearing the sound in its original volume allows the teacher to work on the dynamics and adjust the physical aspects of producing sounds of different volumes. 
  5. When teaching in person music lessons, the instructor can easily tune an instrument for their students. This saves a significant portion of the lesson time and allows more learning and playing!
  6. Playing in person at a music school often allows for the student to learn on a higher quality instrument than what they may use at home. It is particularly important when taking piano lessons – students taking piano lessons in NYC at Riverside Music Studios get to learn on acoustic pianos!

There are few cons to taking in person lessons:

  1. The teacher and/or the student has to make time, put forth effort and pay to commute to the lesson location.
  2. All parties have to shower and wear clean clothes.


Go ahead and choose what works best for you! Luckily, Riverside Music Studios can easily offer both or a mix of online or in person music lessons in NYC, based on your preference.

To sign up for music lessons in NYC or to contact us with any questions using the form below:

(212) 247-4900
Riverside Music Studios - Midtown
1727 Broadway, Suite 2
New York, New York 10019

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Riverside Music Studios - Downtown
160 Broadway, Suite 900EB
New York, New York 10038