Lots of music teachers are going online (or already online), tempting lots of us to enroll with more options than ever to hone our skills.
As learning landscapes and information exchange becomes increasingly digital, the challenge becomes how to ensure quality and value in an area as subjective and close to the heart as music.
Any investment of your time (and money) is worth due diligence, so here are some options to help you connect with the right music learning resources:
Benedetti Foundation: Best for Primary School-Aged Home Learners
With the Benedetti Foundation, primary school teacher, Jimmy Rotheram has launched a special series of structured lesson plans and learning resources aimed at primary school-aged children.
Presented in two age-targeted collections – a six-week lesson plan for ages four to seven, and a 12-week plan for ages seven to 11 – the offering includes books and resources that can be easily downloaded from here on the Benedetti Foundation’s website.
There are videos to accompany every step of both sets of lesson plans too.
All videos for ages four to seven can be found here.
And all videos for ages seven to 11 can be found here.
Ableton – Best for Beginners
By the company best known for the Push Controller and Live Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), Ableton’s Free Learning Music web platform is perhaps the most holistically comprehensive beginner’s guide to experiential music learning out now.
While many platforms offer more advanced or specialized knowledge, the foundational elements of music are often assumed to be understood prior to the user finding the resource. From identifying sounds, recognizing the patterns and groupings of notes the user finds compelling, to arranging chord progressions, basslines, and melodies, users can now make musical choices from the very beginning.
Young Classical Artist Trust – Best for Mastering Scales
Young Classical Artist Trust violinist, Mayumi Kanagawa, has let us into the secret of her scale warm-up routine. She’s obsessive about scales, and describes this routine as “almost religious”, expressing keenness to share how she warms up at this particular moment in time in case it’s helpful for anyone in quarantine.
MasterClass – Best Access to the Masters
MasterClass, the superb series of online courses delivered by world-leading experts in every field – from Anna Wintour on leadership and Annie Leibervitz on photography, to David Lynch on film-making – has offerings from incredible musicians including violinist Itzhak Perlman, composers Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman, and, for jazz cats out there, the legendary Herbie Hancock.
As well as the courses you can sign up to, the site also has some fantastic resources – like the ‘Music 101’ series, which includes ‘What is a musical scale?’ and ‘What is a metronome in music?’.
Soundfly – Best Mentoring Model
With courses ranging from Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords, to Modern & Advanced Mix Techniques, this platform stands out for the depth and quality of its learning materials as well as for its unique mentorship model.
While they offer free access to a number of online courses, investment in one of their Mentored Courses will land you a friendly, knowledgeable musician-coach to guide you through the content, share feedback on your work, and create a goal-based learning plan customized to your personal needs. Their Headliners Program may be their most unique offering, allowing students to customize their own learning experience to reach their creative goals.
Udemy Dan Dresnok – Best Guitar Lessons for the Curious Guitarist
Dan Dresnok’s Guitar Lessons for the Curious Guitarist class has something for every level of guitarist, so you can keep moving through the lessons as you improve. Dresnok teaches acoustic guitar and electric guitar lessons, ear training and in-depth looks at scales, rhythm and strumming, and guitar basics like chords. He also covers solos, reading and writing music, and more complicated techniques such as slides and pull-offs.
The course comes with almost 30 hours of video, 54 downloadable resources and 10 backing track videos so you can put the solo lessons into practice.
What it costs: Udemy’s course prices are set by the individual instructors from a price tier, unless they choose to offer them for free. Dresnok’s courses cost $70.
Laurence Perkins – Best for Bassoonists
Bassoonist Laurence Perkins has turned to teaching his instrument from home via the Internet in his new series ‘Bassoon Inspired’.
“One of my hopes at this difficult time is that a heightened recognition of the true value of music and the arts will emerge,” Perkins writes on his website. “Children deserve the chance to explore the vast and exciting range of genres and styles from many different cultures.”
Finchcocks – Best for Beginner Pianists
Finchcocks, a home to piano courses in Kent, has announced a series of online tutorials for absolute beginners – as a way to beat the quarantine blues and develop a new skill. Musical Director Dave Hall assumes no musical knowledge, and promises to get you playing with both hands within one-minute flat…
edX Berklee – Best for Learning in Music Entrepreneurs
You no longer need to travel to the esteemed Boston music school to take Berklee classes anymore! In collaboration with edX, Berklee College of Music offers course content in multiple languages and subject areas online for free, including Creativity and Entrepreneurship, Vocal Recording Technology, and Music for Wellness.
As is the case with other edX partners, users have the option to earn a Verified Certificate for $49, though unfortunately these badges do not translate to college credit.
LessonFace – Best Option for Real Time Lessons
You will love LessonFace for its ability to meet virtually and in real time with seasoned music educators around the world. Students can select from a range of instructor profiles or be matched by LessonFace staff, and areas of study span across genre traditions and instruments.
SkillShare GuitArmy’s Chris Rupp – Best Beginner Guitar Lesson One
The Beginner Guitar Lesson One course by GuitArmy on Skillshare is a great place for musical newbies to start with an online guitar lesson. Chris Rupp is a guitar instructor of 18 years, and his GuitArmy page has over a dozen guitar classes for beginners. The first course goes through basic guitar training information for the beginner guitarist like holding the guitar and the pick, strumming, finger numbering, the parts of the guitar, tuning, reading music and playing a basic chord.
What it costs: Some online classes on Skillshare are free when you create an account, but most require a premium membership, which costs $99 annually or $19 a month. You can sign up for 14 free days of unlimited classes. The premium membership is also ad-free and lets you download classes to your mobile device and watch offline.
Busy Works Beats – Best Option for Non-Traditional Musicians
The aspect of Busy Work Beats is their unusual (to a formally trained musician), accessible approach to fundamental music theory using numbers to represent semitones.
Cutting through Eurocentric traditions to FastTrack modern producers into an informed, empowered understanding of music theory they can use in creating their own music, Busy Work Beats is a top choice for a non-traditional music student to learn what they need and skip what they don’t.
MusEDLab @ NYU – Best for Amateurs
The Music Experience Design Lab has created a suite of tools designed to help novices interact with their favorite music in a more playful way. They’ve partnered with the NY Philharmonic to allow fans to Step Inside Mahler, developed widgets for PBS’s Soundbreaking series, and mapped the QWERTY keyboard to play as a natural musical instrument with any mode or tonal center.
Nicola Benedetti – Best for String Players
Nicola Benedetti’s other series of online tutorials, ‘With Nicky’, are also still available. They’re packed with bite-sized tips, tricks and inspiration to help you improve your string playing while motivating you for that all-important, special ingredient – practice!
Udemy Henry Olsen – Best Detailed Guitar Masterclass
Henry Olson’s Ultimate Beginner Guitar Masterclass on Udemy delves into topics like guitar gear in addition to how to play. Olsen’s course will help you figure out basics like which guitar is best for you and setting up an amp (if you’re using an electric guitar). You’ll also learn basic guitar chord fingerings, strumming patterns, riffs on the electric guitar (as well as acoustic techniques), working in practice time and tips to make playing easier.
The class includes 12.5 hours of on-demand video, 26 downloadable resources, PDF support for most of the lessons and a 42-page picture chord book.
What it costs: Udemy’s course prices are set by the individual instructors from a price tier, unless they choose to offer them for free. Olsen’s courses cost $85.
Steven Osborne Lessons – Best for Next-stage Pianists
Pianist Steven Osborne is offering free Zoom lessons to eager pianists looking to learn online. “How does it work?”, we hear you ask. Easy! Steven invites you to request a lesson by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and a lucky pianist will get their name drawn out of a hat, as it were, every week. Names are kept on file, so if at first you don’t succeed…
Myleene Klass Lessons – Best Option for Families
Join in with ‘Music Klass’ from Myleene Klass, to take some time out as a whole family – from beginners up to music veterans looking for a refresher – and get the rudiments of music theory under your belts while, crucially, having fun!
LMM Friday Live! – Best for Weekly Inspiration
London Music Masters (LMM) has launched Friday Live!, a new series of educational events and activities, taking place online every Friday on LMM’s Facebook Page. Aimed at families, the series will feature live sessions and downloadable activities delivered by LMM musicians, teachers and artists – all framed as either Explore!, Participate! or Listen!.
ClassicFM – Best for Discoverers
If you’re looking for more intermittent music learning, we have an incredible array of introductions to instruments, vocal ranges and techniques, and other aspects of music – including tuning and restringing instruments – in the ‘Discover’ series on our YouTube channel.
All presented by world-class musicians, including violinist Maxim Vengerov, accordionist Ksenija Sidorova and mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta.
London Union Chapel – Best for Teenage Composers and Sound Designers
Organ Scholar Jay Richardson is giving free online workshops aimed at students aged 14-16 from the restored Union Chapel organ. The series of online lessons, ‘Notating the World’ covers music notation, sound design and composition.
Open College of Arts – Best Option for Aspiring Academics and Beyond
The Open College of Arts is an online university created by Michael Young, one of the founders of Open University, to offer arts courses from short foundations, to degree-level programmes in all arts disciplines.
If you were looking to take your understanding of music to the next stage, the music syllabus includes an Open Foundation in Music, and BA (Hons).