Online video lessons for music students have come a long way over the last decade or so. Besides private teachers being able to teach their students over the web (say when someone is sick and doesn’t want to be in close contact), subscription platforms have become very user friendly, both for students and teachers.
There are several different websites out there that offer video lessons, and I have pulled out four of them, each with it’s own format by which a student learns. They range from live video lessons, to pre-recorded lessons, so it should be easy for students to pick the format that suits them the best.
It should be said that nothing replaces a one on one private lesson, where the teacher can observe the student’s posture and technique from all angles, and where the sound quality is as true as it can be. Three of the websites I am focusing on here, Violinmasterclass.com, Artistworks.com and Lessonface.com, offer teacher feedback, either live, or by student video submission. Fiddlevideo.com and Violinmasterclass.com offer pre-recorded lessons where the student is on her/his own for learning correctly.
Lessonface.com intrigued me, as it seems to be very well organized and has lots of different options to explore, both ongoing private lessons, as well as group and master classes.
Using a computer or tablet with a webcam and a reliable internet connection, you can find, message, book, and meet your ideal teacher from wherever you are, all in a few clicks. Designed to be fun and safe for all ages.
Some of the group lessons offered are: “Song Production 101 Using Garageband”, “Violin Improvisation Workshop”, “Indian Rhythm” and “Tabla Class”, and “Explorations in Groove”. The classes are taught and taped at Lessonface’s studio in the West Village of Manhattan, so you can attend either in person, or watch online. The fee to participate in these particular classes ranges from $20-$35 for a single class, to $140 for a 6 class series.
You can also take live private video lessons at Lessonface, and choose between multiple teachers of various experiences. Each teacher sets their own price, presumably based on their performance and teaching experience, and you can read all about them in their profiles. Lessons can be booked by the week, or in a bundle.
From a teacher’s perspective I think this platform has great potential. Lessonface does charge the teacher 15% per lesson, but you do get to set your own rate. In return the teacher has a large database of students looking for lessons, and is not limited to teaching only local students.
Artistworks specializes in offering lessons with well known instrumentalists in their field. The string teachers they have on their roster are: Mike Block, a multi style cellist who has toured with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble for many years; fiddler Darol Anger, who is a true pioneer in the world of contemporary roots music styles; world renowned jazz bass player John Patitucci; bass player Missy Raines, a decorated musician in the bluegrass world; and classical violinist Nathan Cole, who currently serves as First Associate Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. These are all high-level musicians who would be hard to even approach to ask for a lesson, so this is a great opportunity to get feedback from true experts.
Uniquely interactive online learning. Get unlimited access to recorded lessons and submit practice videos to your world-renowned teacher when you want feedback.
Artistworks.com subscription options:
Fiddlevideo focuses exclusively on fiddle styles rooted in Celtic music. Although they don’t offer private lessons, their pre-recorded video tutorials are extremely effective, because they feature multiple ways to learn and study each tune. With your subscription, which like Artistworks is paid for by the number of months you subscribe to, you get the following:
• Performance video
• Basic melody tutorial
• Advanced melody tutorial
• Picture-in-picture videos for up close viewing of the left hand
• A/B user-defined video looping*
• Video speed controls (slow down the lessons)*
• Guitar practice track(s) – (N/A for trad Irish lessons by Kevin Burke)
• MP3 downloads of the audio performance tracks
• Sheet music for the basic song melody (including guitar chords)
They do offer some free videos for you to check out to see if you like the program, which makes it easy and low risk to sign up. I particularly like their picture-in-picture video feature, where you can watch the teacher from more than one angle perform the tunes. Great for those of us who like to study technique, bowing patterns, and finger ornaments up close.
In full disclosure, one of the fiddle teachers on Fiddlevideo.com is my old fiddle teacher Hanneke Cassel. I started taking group lessons with her at Club Passim in Cambridge, MA, over a decade ago. I wanted to learn Celtic music from an expert, so that I could teach my own students this very popular style properly and authentically. Long story short, Hanneke was and is a fabulous teacher and musician, and I learned a lot in those lessons. Her love for the genre is positively contagious, and her inviting and energetic presence had a big impact on me as a teacher and musician.
Fiddlevideo.com subscription options:
In 2004, while maintaining the early version of learningviolin.com, I decided to create teaching videos that I would sell access to on my site. I worked quite hard at writing and filming them, and ended up producing five videos on posture, bow grip, tuning, and two on bowing. I had them all up on my site after a few months of work, only to find out about this other new website, violinmasterclass.com, which had produced multiple teaching videos for FREE. Oops! I knew I couldn’t compete with a big organization so I decided to also offer my video lessons free of charge. They can still be found on YouTube, although they now look like they are from a different century. At least they gave me some local business, plus I learned a lot in the process ☺
Violinmasterclass.com offers free lessons without needing to sign up or subscribe. It is created by and based on the pedagogical teachings of professor Kurt Sassmanhaus, who holds the Dorothy Richard Starling Chair for Classical Violin at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). His students include prizewinners of major international competitions, prominent soloists and chamber musicians, and orchestra leaders around the world.
The video tutorials on Violinmasterclass.com are geared towards students, from beginners and up. There is a good emphasis on beginner exercises and techniques, which is very useful for people who want to start learning by themselves from home.
The videos are organized into the categories of: “Stance & Violin Position”, “Right Hand”, “Left Hand”, “Scales, Arpeggios & Double Stops”, “Intonation”, and “Putting it All Together”. Each category has multiple videos, where Professor Sassmannhaus gives a short lecture, with a student demonstrating whatever lesson the focus is on. These videos are very well organized, and cover pretty much every technique a classical student needs to learn and practice.
Violinmasterclass has also added the option of taking lessons either via live video, or via a series of short video exchanges, and those are for a fee. There is a very limited availability to study with professor Sassmannshaus himself, but you can also opt to study with one of the experienced teachers personally selected by him.
Last but not least, Violinmasterclass has multiple performance and recital videos on their website for students to explore, and I have found those to be very inspiring for my young students. The level of the student performances is very high, but they are also made very approachable when combined with all the video tutorials that teach you how to become a good violinist.