The Power of 1-on-1, Online Music Lessons

  • Kate Johnston
  • Published: September 24, 2022
  • Last updated: Oct 26, 2023
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“Learning a musical instrument can unlock the door to a new dimension that many of us have forgotten exists.” – James Rhodes, famed concert pianist and author

The internet has made learning easier than ever. YouTube has millions of videos teaching curious learners how to bake the perfect soufflé, ace the SATs or knit a sweater for a pet ferret – the sky’s the limit! And this includes learning how to play an instrument.

YouTube lessons are pre-recorded and intended for a broad audience. This is a powerful framework for maximizing access across the globe – but it’s impersonal and learning is often slower. One-on-one, online music lessons, in real time, by contrast, are tailored specifically for each music student, no matter where they are in their music journey.

With personalized learning, instructors are able to focus on each student’s unique goals and inspiration. Want to learn to compose your own song on piano? Learn the fundamentals of classical guitar to go from novice to expert? Sing your favorite song from Disney’s Moana for your sister’s birthday party? A one-on-one, virtual music teacher can make it happen.

A recent study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation discovered that personalized lessons tailored to individual students increases learning outcomes and student success at every level of learning. What does this mean for learning music? In short, long-term success – sticking with an instrument and improving over time –  is more likely with a music teacher who can teach songs you’re interested in, go at your learning speed, lean into your niche interests and answer individual questions. 

YouTube and taking your music skills to the next level

Type “learn guitar” or “piano basics” into YouTube and there will be endless results. You could scroll all day through thumbnails of smiling instructors offering bite-size chunks of knowledge on this chord or that scale. 

Learning in this way is free and highly flexible. At Tunelark, we support every learning modality, and YouTube is one of our favorite resources. But we also know that one-on-one, online music lessons have a special sort of magic – and lasting learning power. There is simply no substitute for human interaction if you want to learn fast and develop a music hobby that will be there for years to come.

We recommend music tutorial videos as a tool to plug gaps in theory or learn a certain solo. But actually learning an instrument is a holistic experience that most learners benefit from being guided through in a direct, human relationship. There’s a reason the most accomplished musicians often have years or decades-long relationships with their music instructor or mentor!

Let’s dive into the top 3 benefits of one-on-one, online music lessons.  

1. Tailored music lessons motivate

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” -Ignacio Estrada, educator

In a student’s very first one-on-one music lesson, an experienced music teacher will ask questions to get to know their new pupil. What are their music interests and tastes? What is their experience playing an instrument or singing? Does the student have any music goals or dreams?

A good music instructor will also probably assess where a student is on their learning journey – their skill level, comfort performing, or areas for growth – and perhaps begin playing music in the first lesson. In this way, a music teacher can quickly determine an initial learning path for a student and their pace.

Quick learners or those with an appetite for music will benefit, because they can race through the material and the music instructor can make sure students stay challenged. Similarly, students who need a little extra help can be taught the material in different formats until they understand. 

One-on-one virtual music lessons are designed to cater to students on an individual level, with an instructor who will oversee every lesson, guiding the student. Whether a student is a visual or a hands-on learner, is shy to play or struggles with new concepts or the physical handling of an instrument, a quality music teacher can match both the learning style and pace of the student for a more efficient learning process.

This tailored lesson dynamic is woefully absent in YouTube videos or one-size-fits-all group lessons. If you’re watching a video, you can’t ask for clarification or get feedback on your technique. The only option is to rewind, slow the video speed to a crawl, or waste time weeding through comments hoping another person shares your confusion. This style of learning by video can be frustrating and slow. Understandably, most people dabble in learning this way and quit. 

Conversely, when a student shows up to a one-on-one, private music lesson, the time will be packed with music they love, specialized attention, and patient encouragement. It’s a motivating and energizing environment that leaves most students excited to practice and improve between lessons.

2. The student-teacher connection inspires

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

One of the key advantages in taking one-on-one online music lessons is that the student and the instructor can learn how to work together and create a fruitful learning environment. Virtual music teachers offer their undivided attention, answering student questions, and checking in on progress every lesson to make sure students are squeezing the most learning out of a lesson. 

Individual music lessons are also free from distractions (like video ads) and overstimulation (from a crowded group class) that can make learning particularly hard for children who are easily sidetracked or shy.

In this setting, with one-on-one virtual music lessons, a student receives immediate feedback allowing for corrections of any bad habits or playing mistakes before they become too hard to shake. A music teacher can remind, answer a theory-based question, or demonstrate technique that’s tripping up a student’s fingers by switching to an up-close camera angle. 

According to research from the Buck Institute for Education, student-driven learning projects improve engagement and help students both retain knowledge longer and achieve a deeper understanding of a subject. This is because a student’s needs are consistently prioritized by an instructor, and there’s an expectation for constructive feedback, specialized assistance, and lots of encouragement along the way. A strong working relationship between a student and a private music teacher fosters greater confidence, creativity, and passion for music.

Beyond technique, a great student-teacher match involves a stylistic fit. Do you dream of learning the Spanish folk song your grandmother used to sing on guitar? Are you shy to sing but eager to get encouraging tips to sound like Billie Eilish? Maybe you’re an advanced classical pianist but want high-level input on developing jazz technique. A tailored student-teacher matching service like Tunelark can pair you with a teacher with experience and enthusiasm in your area of interest. Their stories of performing at the biggest classical concert halls, touring in rock bands, or studying your favorite style of music are likely to inspire your own music dream.

3. Personalized instruction leads to long-term success

“Tell me, and I forget. Show me, and I remember. Involve me, and I understand.” – Chinese proverb

One of the most frustrating aspects of learning music from pre-recorded videos is the time lost to rewinding, researching questions or losing steam when learning gets too challenging.

One-on-one online music lessons, by contrast, are a far more effective use of time and energy. Many of us want to learn an instrument, but sometimes it can be tough to give our undivided attention or commit the time. In a one-on-one virtual music lesson, students show up to learn for a dedicated period of time and are far more likely to take the session seriously. If you are interested in lessons for your children, this can be doubly true. Lots of kids who struggle in group music lessons just need a bit more focused attention to help them feel seen and inspire their engagement.

According to a 2020 literature review in the journal Smart Learning Environments, personalized learning customized to students increases motivation, engagement, understanding and learning efficiency. Which makes sense, because humans have learned one-on-one via apprenticeships and from mentors for centuries! Thanks to modern technology, meeting a music instructor via a link to a virtual meeting saves time and money otherwise spent commuting to music lessons.

One-on-one virtual music lessons are superior to a one-sided engagement with a person speaking to their online subscribers via a pre-recorded video. As we all know, it’s easy to pause a video, forget about that tab, walk away, or tune out. With a talented live instructor, it’s harder to lose focus. And focus is what drives learning. 

Find a music teacher today

“The greatest sign of success for a teacher . . . is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’” – Maria Montessori

As Malcolm Gladwell shares in his bestselling book Outliers, it takes dedicated practice over time to achieve skill mastery – and a key variable is the quality of a student’s teacher. Getting the right match between student and music teacher is critical to creating an environment where powerful learning takes place. 

At Tunelark, we take matching seriously. Our staff handpicks music instructors from our network of inspiring teaching professionals for each student based on their learning level, interests and unique needs to make a strong match. The first lesson is a trial to make sure the fit is right, and we’ll work with you to find the best music teacher for your needs until you’re satisfied. Our goal is a 100% fit and a strong learning relationship where the student flourishes.

Every format for learning music has its advantages, YouTube included. But at Tunelark, we’ve witnessed firsthand, thousands of times, the special power of one-on-one music lessons. It’s the oldest, most human-centric way to learn!

With Tunelark, a gifted piano student in Montana can take Tunelark lessons with a Julliard grad who lives in Manhattan. Tunelark can match a student passionate about bagpipes with an accomplished Scottish bagpiper living a thousand miles away. Making authentic learning connections and nurturing a lifelong love of music is our passion – no matter the student’s age or skill level.

About Tunelark

Tunelark is a community of inspiring, professional music instructors. Our shared vision is to help our students connect with their intrinsic love of music and follow their curiosity to grow as musicians and people. 

Lessons take place over video chat so that students can learn from the comfort and convenience of their own home. 

Browse our community of expert teachers and pick the one who resonates most with your goals and learning style. As always, we guarantee a great match or your money back. 

If you’re ready to get started with 1-on-1 online music lessons, book your first lesson with a Tunelark instructor today. Your first lesson is 50% off!