Do online voice lessons work?
My personal experience with online voice lessons as a student
Even though I consider myself a professional singer and voice teacher, I absolutely still work a voice teacher from time to time (probably not as often as I should or would like)! All singers and voice teachers still need a voice teacher or coach to check in with how they are doing, troubleshoot problem areas and keep techniques fresh for their whole career, and give feedback when they approach a new piece of music. Think of basketball players – they still have a coach their entire career, and singing is no different. It is so important to have someone to check in with about your vocal condition and progress, no matter where you are in your career.
Some of the best experiences I ever had with a voice teacher, where I learned the most, were actually Skype voice lessons. I have them recorded and I even replay them from time to time and recently have gone back to transcribe parts of the lessons I feel are particularly valuable so I can review the information written down. That is how valuable I think these lessons are.
So in my personal experience, I have felt that having online lessons as an option has only enhanced my learning, by giving me access to a teacher I would never been able to work with otherwise.
My personal experience with online lessons as a teacher
I have also taught many students online as a teacher, and in my experience things go well as long as the technology is working well. The biggest problem I have found is not in the audio or video quality, per say, but when the internet bandwidth is too slow, and can cause a lag in audio or video, which just interrupts the flow of the lesson, and the voice may cut out while a student is practicing something I need to hear to give feedback on.
The other potential thing to be aware of is that the student is required to provide their own accompaniment when they are singing their pieces. This works great for my students who do play the piano or guitar and plan to accompany themselves anyway. However for those who do not already play an instrument, the solution would be to find accompaniment tracks, which are often available on YouTube for free for many popular songs, or there are services where you can purchase high quality files for accompaniment, or you could even hire someone online to record the piece at the tempo that works best for you.
Benefits of online voice lessons
The benefits of online voice lessons:
- Work with a teacher of your choice anywhere in the world
- This is one of the biggest benefits, in my mind. Having access to high-quality instruction no matter who you are or where you live is such an incredible outcome of new technology. When I lived in China, I could still have lessons with my teacher in Minnesota! Just incredible.
- Audio and video record your lessons easily using a service like Zoom, or Skype.
- Side note: I used Skype for a very long time, but I recently have had a lot of problems using it, and so have my students, so I have switched to Zoom which has the added benefits of being able to record the screen, share the screen, for example if I pull up some images or sheet music the student needs to see. It’s really useful and you can use the web or desktop version all for free for 45 minutes each meeting. It also has a scheduler feature. So many useful aspects to using Zoom.
- No travel time to lessons! (This might be one of the best aspects!)
- This might be one of the best reasons – you will save a lot of time and money commuting and this is often the one major reason people don’t take lessons, when there are no good voice teachers in their immediate area, it will require too much travel time.
Downsides of online voice lessons
- Low bandwidth issues. (You should try to troubleshoot them if they are a persistent problem.) We recently had an issue with lack of wifi to devices in our basement and we were able to boost the signal using a device we bought at Best Buy, by Netgear [affiliate link]. This has been a HUGE improvement, although it hasn’t completely solved our bandwidth problems. But for a modest price, I am happy with the results.
- Audio quality (moreso than video quality) may cause a lack of understanding in the correct vocal sound desired. (This can be helped by upgrading to a better microphone for a modest investment. I use the Blue Snowball USB Microphone [affiliate link], because you literally just plug it into the USB in your computer and use it – there were no drivers to download, or anything tricky about it. My students said they could immediately hear an improvement in vocal quality, so I have been very happy with it.
- Some people just feel they learn better in person, and that’s okay! I have students who simply don’t like online lessons.
- It is hard to see the whole person online, and correctly physical errors in posture or seeing certain areas of tension in the body will be more difficult with an online lesson.
- Singing is a physical activity that involves the whole body and requires a sense of freedom of movement, so sitting in one place to be on camera is not a great idea. To balance this out, I personally think standing during lessons is very beneficial, and being able to look up and outward (such as out a window) is also a good idea. So if you do have online lessons, be sure you choose a room where movement and feeling unrestricted physically is possible. Even better if your teacher will have the chance to see at least 3/4 of your body while singing at some point.
So those are my thoughts on online voice lessons and how to make them more successful for both teachers and students. Do you have any questions? Are you interested in online voice lessons but have additional concerns about if they are right for you? Leave a comment or just contact me directly (even if you aren’t looking to work with me, I am happy to answer any questions to help you on your path to learning to sing or speak better!)