Online Video Lessons

April 20, 2018, 5:39 PM · I've started reading about teachers who offer online lessons similar to Skype lessons, but instead of it being a live interaction, the student can just send in videos and receive feedback and lesson plans back. Does anybody have any comments on this style of teaching/learning? I mean, I can assume it's not the best, but is it better than strictly learning from Youtube/forums/books? Is it worth the money? And if so, does anybody know of any teachers that offer this service that you might recommend?

That's the gist of this post so feel free to skip the rest, but for those of you who inevitably will be wondering why I don't just find a real teacher or even take skype lessons, some explanation: I'm currently working at an extremely remote research station. With a population of 133 people, there are no violin teachers. Our internet is through a satellite and most of the bandwidth is reserved for official duties/science stuff. Skype is blocked for the most part and only allowed from a certain computer that's in an area where I can't really play my violin. Anyway, it's unreliable and I'd hate to schedule lessons only to have the internet not work at the time. My contract here ends in October and I plan on taking lessons from a real, live instructor at that time. in the meantime, I'd hope to do the best I can and make at least some progress.

And some info about me as a student: I took maybe 5 - 10 lessons a few years ago after inheriting my great grandfather's violin after my grandma died. My only other musical experience is drumming and a touch of guitar plus a music theory class in highschool. I know very little.
I'm 31 years old. Ultimately, I'm most interested in playing folk/traditional styles. It's been a while since I took lessons and I didn't get very far when I did, so I'm basically starting from the very beginning right now.
Not wanting to subject my great grandfather's violin to the harsh climate here, I bought a cheap, $130 cecelio violin from Amazon. I also bought a $40.00 carbon fiber bow that had good reviews, a 2 sets of cheap-ish strings that also had good reviews, some decent rosin and some peg drops. The violin also came with 2 crappy bows, a mediocre tuner/metronome and a book that I'm following. I also found the Essential String 2000 violin book 1 in the station band room so I'm following that as well. And I brought my shoulder rest with me when I came here.
Other than that, I can't really get additional resources or items since I'm stuck here and we won't receive mail again until possibly June, but probably August.

I'm on a pretty limited budget so I'm not keen on the idea of spending money if it's not going to be all that much better than self-learning. But I think I'm pretty dedicated at this point, so I'd be happy to make room in my budget if it would help me out significantly.

Replies (11)

April 20, 2018, 7:19 PM · proamstrings.com and Nathan Cole at artistworks.com (search this site for a thread on this one) offer this service. It's definitely better than nothing. You can even post videos (linked from YouTube or other source) on this forum for feedback. The feedback might not be instant, though. Check out violinlab.com, which might offer this service too.
April 22, 2018, 4:42 AM · From everything I've seen, Nathan Cole is a teacher of exceptional insight and clarity. If anyone can make this approach work, it would be him.
April 22, 2018, 12:01 PM · It looks like Nathan Cole retired from that service and there's a replacement instructor for violin. There's also a second violin instructor with an emphasis on folk/traditional/fiddle music.
I might try out this option. It's definitely affordable, certainly must less expensive than real lessons, though still money I don't want to spend if it's not going to help. Most of the reviews seem positive, though quite a few mention that it takes a loooonnngg time to get responses back - to the point where you may be working on something entirely different by the time you get feedback on submitted videos. It sounds like the video feedback is more of a small added bonus and the main product is the pre-recorded video lessons. But I would imagine the video lessons are of a high quality and better than some of the free ones I'm using from youtube.

Thanks for the links, Ella! artistworks is the only one I've had time to look into so far. I'm going to try to investigate the other two tonight.

It certainly can't hurt.

April 22, 2018, 4:30 PM · I can make the offer to you to send me videos and agreeing that I post my instructional response publicly with your video on YouTube. That way you could get a free lesson and I get some interesting educating content for my Channel. You can find my Channel under my name. But I am not an fiddler specialist at all. If you or anybody else is interested, you can contact me over my homepage violin-education.com. I usually don't have much time to look through all responses in here lately.
Regarding Skype lessons: Last week I did my first Skype lesson as a tryout. It felt to me like a normal lesson but way more ineffective! Bad sound quality and only one camera angle really slow down the process.
I think submitting a performance video and getting feedback on that is better for both sides in general. The performance and recording itself is a learning process and the feedback might be more thought out when the teacher has the opportunity to scroll back and forth through the video to analyze your playing.
If you need some written feedback, this forum has been in the past a great source and many very qualified teachers in here are eager to help!
April 23, 2018, 12:01 AM · That's an interesting point on Skype lessons. I never thought that video exchanges might actually be better than live interaction, even if it is via video.
That makes me more interested in looking into this more. Thanks for your perspective.

And thank you for the offer as well. Despite some trepidation over the thought of subjecting your poor viewers to my awful playing, I'd be happy to let you use any of my videos on your channel. And I'm nowhere near a level where I might be concerned with finding a fiddle music specialist. I'll likely be seeking a classical teacher when I start taking real lessons again anyway, at least until I feel like I've gotten the basics down.
I'll likely be contacting you about this shortly. It'll also be a good experiment to see if I can record and upload a decent video of myself playing in case I do decide to start using one of the video lesson services. Like you said, the performance and recording itself is a learning process.

I might also try uploading some videos to get some written feedback from whoever has time too, as you guys have suggested.

April 23, 2018, 2:28 AM · The only difficulty with this is that you may get lots of opposing suggestions from a wide variety of people and you won't know which ones will be useful, and which will cause more problems.
April 23, 2018, 4:26 AM · Kate, I suggest trying as many different recording devises as you can. I was very surprised to find that my laptop recording audio is not as good has my smart phone's. I had another person listen to both and they told me that the phone gave a better representation of my true sound. I do find that video recording yourself is a very useful tool to see what is going on with your technique and keeping track of progress.
April 23, 2018, 4:33 AM · I'd like to suggest that this is one of those things that can be theorized about endlessly, wringing your hands about why it might not work, but in the end, you just have to try it.
Edited: April 24, 2018, 1:54 PM · Cool, I look forward to you contacting me! I will not post anything publicly without asking you for permission beforehand, sending you my response privately. You still will have to take care of your part which is recording in decent audio quality (video can be very basic) and preparing a piece, that you can play through... or a simple scale or open strings if you want that too. I am sure, I can help you a little bit and public beginner lessons are very rare and I think could help other viewers very much!
April 25, 2018, 2:55 PM · Peter, that's a good point. I think that is part of my problem now trying to learn without an instructor. In some way I'm sure it's great to get so many different viewpoints from youtube, different books, forums, etc. But on the other hand, without some semi-authoritative figure who I'm paying, I get caught up in trying EVERY option and worrying about this and that. This probably isn't the worst thing in the world, but if I spent as many hours practicing as watching videos and reading forum posts about this or that technique or aspect of playing, I'd probably be a much better musician already.

Timonthy, thanks for the tip. I have a DSLR camera, a laptop, and a pretty decent cell phone. The camera will be easiest because I can just use a tripod, but I'm sure I can figure out something so I can try the others.

Paul, you're probably totally right. Kind of goes with what I said above - I'm getting caught up wondering and thinking instead of just doing. In this case it's because I don't want to waste money (money that I could spend on real lessons when I get back to the US!) but it's not that much money and maybe services offer pay-as-you-go, so I should just try.

Simon, I'll see what I can do. First I'm going to do some experiments with recording when I get time, then I'll contact you. Also, I checked out your channel. Most of your videos are above my level, but a couple have already been useful. Good stuff!

April 26, 2018, 4:26 AM · Thank you Kate. I have a lot of more basic videos in production for YouTube, since I am going to release an beginners course on Udemy and want the content on YouTube as well.
Maybe you could tell me what your biggest struggles are at the moment. Maybe it will be an good idea for a video too!

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