Taking online guitar lessons?? Here are the best practices to online shred greatness!
Author - Robert Higginbotham
After teaching one-on-one lessons in a studio for 15 years, the pandemic has led me to moving lessons online. Some students decided against the change, others are fine with it, and some prefer it. After a few months of teaching online some lessons have been learned. To get the best out of online lessons the following is recommended:
1) Best internet connection possible
Do what you can to get the best connection. Most connections involve Wi-Fi internet these days. This means the farther you are from the equipment, the weaker the signal may become. Adding a signal booster of some kind may be helpful. Please consult with folks that know more than I do about wireless technology. The better the signal is, the more pleasant the lesson will be. There are several sites online that offer free speed tests to check your internet speed such a https://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/
2) Use the biggest screen possible
Much of the material covered in lessons is visual so the bigger the screen is, the easier it is for the student to benefit. I have a few students who actually take lessons using a smart phone. The size of the screen does get in the way occasionally, leading to taking longer to demonstrate some concepts.
3) Add good sound to your computer
A single high-quality USB headphone set with a built-in headset mic is a good option, allowing sound that is far better than the built-in computer options. These are very popular among gaming enthusiasts with good reason. Other options would be to invest in a separate Bluetooth speaker for better sound. I use a JBL “Flip 5” which runs around $100 and is more than adequate for lessons. I also use a USB microphone called a ‘BeeCaster’ which is popular with Podcasters. It is far better-quality mic than the built-in mic on my Mac and is also handy for making good quality recordings. Another plus to using external speakers and mics is that you can place them in optimal locations without having to sit right in front of the compute to access the onboard mic and speaker. There are several options on the market so do your research and ask questions.
4) A comfortable, quiet place for lessons
For online lessons this cannot be stressed enough. It is hard to have a good learning experience when being interrupted with distractions. The student should have a space where the door can be closed to eliminate, or at least significantly cut down, on distractions. This will allow the student to focus on the information they are processing and get the most out of the time invested. Ideally, the lesson space will be the same as the students’ practice space which should have the following things, that have nothing to do with the internet, available.
- An armless chair. (Some student will sit on a stool, a bed, sofa, etc.)
- Good lighting
- A music stand
- A tuner and metronome
- Capo (optional)
- Pencil and paper readily available
The student should be able to position themselves far enough from the camera so that the instructor can see both hands, plus the entire fingerboard of the guitar. It’s not necessary to see the headstock or the tail end of the guitar. A wider view also gives the teacher the ability to help with body posture and guitar positioning. Using a USB microphone and blue tooth speaker as described above is helpful as the student can move both to the optimal position rather than having to sit directly in front of the computer, IPad or whatever device they are using for lessons. Note that if you use an IPad or cell phone for lessons, it is likely to have some kind of stand to hold the unit in an optimum position. There are several options on the market.
In closing, any and all questions and/or feedback arising from this article are welcome. Enjoy your lessons!
Author - Robert Higginbotham
Robert is a well respected Knoxville musician that has been performing off and on since the 1970s. He's been devoted to the teachings of the six string for over 15 years now and takes pride in giving the gift of music to people of all ages.