ONLINE VS. ONE-ON-ONE
One of the great advantages musicians have today is accessibility. Whether it’s through YouTube or website downloads, we have so much information, and thankfully, most of it is free! Whatever subject or concept you want to learn, you can likely find it on YouTube. I have taken great advantage of discovering amazing drummers displaying solos or breaking down concepts. There’s no doubt this wave of accessible information has many great advantages. But should online learning entirely replace one-on-one teaching? Many musicians feel they don’t need private lessons as they already have everything they need at the fingertips of their hands for free. In this resource, we will look at the benefits of one-on-one lessons. You may think there’s a biased view on my end to support one-on-one lessons since I own a music school, but we’ll look at this objectively.
Have you ever attended a lesson where you were unprepared? Chances are, the teacher probably knew. One of the great benefits to one-on-one lessons is that you have a teacher to hold you accountable to practicing. The tendency to exclusively learning online is to be a scatterbrain. You’ll see an amazing video scrolling down on Facebook or view a new video uploaded from your favorite artist, but you’re not really absorbing what you’re learning, and more importantly, you don’t have that person holding you accountable to measuring your progress. There are certainly great online schools that are set up in a skill set series way of learning, but without a teacher, it’s easy to stray away after a few weeks. One can resume back but get discouraged and quit after forgetting what they learned. Accountability will keep you focused and on track so you’re prepared before every lesson and progress as a musician.
In my years of teaching music, I have discovered that every student learns differently. There are visual learners, hands-on learners, and auditory learners. Others like to be self-sufficient because they want to understand something on their own, while others need guidance in every step of learning. Some are very introverted who need time to warm up, while others love to tell me about their whole week! What’s the point? Every student encompasses a different personality type and has a different learning style. A good teacher will recognize this and customize the lessons to best fit the need of that student. One-on-one lessons gives the student the added benefit of having a system that’s individualized to his or her needs. As a result, the student is learning at his or her pace and will profoundly understand what’s being instructed. Further, he or she will relate to the instructor as there is rapport built.
I remember being in a business class in college with so many other students. No one ever wanted to participate, as there was a sense of intimidation from the size of the room and class. One-on-one lessons is antithetical to this because the focus is solely placed on the student. A good teacher will understand when to challenge or encourage a student. He will be attentive to what the student’s challenges are and provide solutions on overcoming those. There is also reciprocation. When the student knows the teacher is giving his undivided attention, he or she will do their best at every lesson. Moreover, if a student wants to learn something specific such as a song, the teacher can carefully break down each section of the song and work at the pace of the student. Personal attention results in personal care of that student and helping him or her every step of the way in reaching a goal.
There have been countless times when I studied a favorite drummer and tried to mimic a beat or phrase he played that was very challenging for me. This led to frustration, doubt, and discouragement. One-on-one lessons provide great encouragement for students. Let’s face it--we all like to be acknowledged when we do something of value. According to entrepreneur.com, research shows that encouragement means empowerment. The article says that people perform significantly better when they’re empowered and encouraged. The article goes on to say that encouragement has two key parts: pointing out potential and challenging the person to succeed at a specific goal. This includes pointing out what the other person can do and challenging him to do it. This requires great understanding of that person as you know what his strengths are and how to capitalize on them. This type of encouragement can only be harnessed in personal relationships. This is nearly impossible to do behind a screen when you don’t know your teacher or student. It’s one thing to merely motivate someone to be the best they can be, but it’s completely different to know who you are working with, including their strengths and challenges. Forbes.com says that when employees work in a positive work culture, they are happier and more collaborative, and this inspires them to be creative. This same principle is applied to one-one-one lessons with an instructor who will encourage and challenge the student.
Why do successful athletes focus so much time on the fundamentals of the game? Because developing and maintaining the fundamentals transcends their ability to perform at optimum results in the game. The more prepared they are outside of the game, the better they will perform in the game. One-on-one lessons develops self-discipline, not only in practicing what is required for the lessons, but also in other areas of life. Many people thought I would never stick to drumming when I started. I was a scatterbrain during my teenage years. However, my love for drumming continually grew (and still does) when I realized how much there is to learn and the endless possibilities of playing. This developed the discipline to practice, listen to all styles of music, and invest in educational materials. I have seen how this discipline of practicing has spilled into other areas of my life, including my spiritual life of spending time in God’s Word on a daily basis, maintaining a regular exercise schedule, as well as setting and executing goals for my business. If the discipline of learning from a teacher and practicing were not present in my life, I know I would struggle developing discipline in other vital areas of life. Triathlon.com says that developing discipline avoids acting on impulse and working on something even after the initial enthusiasm has faded away. This parallels with taking lessons. Students may want to only play what they know, not challenging themselves to grow. Their enthusiasm can also wane off overtime if they lose focus, encounter a challenge, or take extended time away from it. Self-discipline is the bridge that connects a desire with hard work and an action plan. Considering that personal lessons are weekly, they manifest in developing self-discipline, thus enabling the student to develop discipline in other areas of his or her life.
We come back to the question: should online lessons ever replace one-on-one lessons? I believe the points addressed in this resource make a strong case for the advantages of one-on-one lessons and disadvantages of online lessons. Nothing can ever replace the effectiveness of a teacher being present. Online learning is a wonderful tool to take advantage of, but it should always be supplementary to one-on-one lessons if a student is serious about progressing. In other words, students can and should also study on their own via YouTube or through online schools by professional musicians, but this should be in addition to one-on-one lessons. At Breaking Grounds in Music, we have qualified and screened teachers who apply these five reasons as to why a musician should take one-on-one lessons. Not only do our teachers have the capacity to differentiate lessons to the needs of the student, but they also hold our students accountable, give them exclusive attention, customize lessons, know when to encourage and challenge, as well as instill life skills such as self-discipline.