A photograph of a guitar Until recently teaching music via the web has been limited to static, text based courses such as music theory or history. Today however, new software and hardware advances have made this fantasy into a reality for students and teachers all over the world. This article provides a primer on how to begin teaching music classes or lessons in a private, one-to-one environment via the Internet. Other articles in this series will discuss how some musicians are teaching one-to-many lessons via video sharing services such as YouTube and video streaming sites such as Ustream.


Why Teach Music Lessons On The Internet?

The beauty of the concept of teaching live, person to person music lessons on voice or on an instrument becomes incredible appealing when a person begins to realize the breadth of opportunities that a student can access by taking or giving online music lessons .

  • An aspiring violinist in the middle of Iowa could have a private lesson with a world class musician in Prague without leaving the comfort of his living room.

  • A conducting class could have a face to face master class with the conductor of a major symphony orchestra.

  • A pianist could perform a live audition for a panel of judges scattered around the globe.

All of these examples are completely possible using free software programs and do not require huge investments in time or money.  Some music educators are already using this technology on an ongoing basis.  Some people such as pianist George Litterst and his company TimeWarp Technologies have made a business out of not only teaching music online but also creating software that makes the process easier and more productive.  His Classroom Maestro and Home Concert Xtreme products help students visualize and understand musical topics that are presented during an online music lesson.  They are used in conjuction with the other vital components mentioned below.


What Is Needed To Teach Live Online Music Lessons?

One of the most popular video conferencing applications is also the most simple and robust program available for teaching music lessons via the Internet. Skype is a free Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) application that also provides video support via a web cam. Other useful clients for teaching music lessons include the free iChat client on Macintosh computers and another free VOIP program called Oovoo. In addition to Skype and a web cam a user must have a good quality microphone (preferably one that connects via standard microphone connections as USB microphones can have lag issues).

Finally all of these items must be used together with a fast computer (Mac or PC) and a broadband Internet connection with fast upload speeds. Upload speed is much more important than download speed for the purposes of streaming a live music lesson over the Internet. The upstream bandwidth should be at least 300k/second and if possible as high as 500k/second to give the best possible quality with very low latency (delay).



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