Skype Lessons: Effectiveness And Teacher Recommendations

Edited: March 5, 2020, 1:29 PM · Greetings,

I’m currently a high school junior living near Niagara Falls, Canada. I’m trying to find a new teacher, but have exhausted all options that I know of in the area. My parents are unable to drive me to the GTA for lessons, so we’re considering Skype lessons. Can anyone attest to the effectiveness of these lessons? If it is indeed a good option, does anyone have any recommendations for intermediate-advanced level teachers? For reference, I’ve played Paganini Caprice no. 16 and was working towards RCM Level 10 before I stopped taking lessons with my teacher in December. Sadly I don’t have any professional aspirations as my current level of playing is too low to even imagine the possibility of getting into a top music school. In short, I just want to find a teacher who can help me improve quickly for my own satisfaction.


Replies (16)

March 5, 2020, 8:16 AM · Well, for one, your current level of playing is quite impressive compared to the average high-school junior, if you're playing at RCM 10-level. I imagine there are very few music schools you could not get into if you work hard for the next couple of years.

About the Skype lessons, though—I haven't tried them, but I'm very skeptical. Too much would be lost when the lesson gets reduced down to fuzzy video on your screen. Even if you can't find a teacher who can match your technical skill, it might still be beneficial for you to see a teacher who is very musical and able to comment on your execution, musicality, et cetera.

My current teacher would not be able to play most of the music I'm working on right now (she's not shy to admit it). But without her commentary, I don't think I would be able to play it, either, or not nearly as well at the very least.

March 5, 2020, 8:16 AM · What were the reasons for stopping with your teacher in December? Would you consider going back to them if you cannot find a Skype teacher? Or was the distance an issue.

Skype lessons can be effective, but for me, only in the short term. I pick up the occasional skype lesson with my students if they are away and don’t want to miss their slot.
It relies on a really good internet connection, even though there is always some sort of delay, as well as clear camera image to see the student and hear the student.

A google search should bring up teachers further away that are willing to provide Skype lessons for you.

Good luck with your answer and search.

March 5, 2020, 8:58 AM · My son has been taking Skype lessons exclusively for the past four years. While he would have preferred to have these lessons in person, it was the best option for us at the time. One thing that helped was the fact that he had a solid relationship with the teacher prior to moving to our location. The Skype lessons were an extension of that foundation that had been built. On occasion, he will fly to have a lesson with his teacher, but 95% of the lessons are done through Skype.

He has progressed well and has just finished auditioning at the elite conservatories. Additionally, he has done well in several national and international competitions - all through Skype lessons. His teacher will Skype into rehearsals with pianist and he can have lessons even when on the road.

We invested ($100) in a nicer camera (as did the teacher) and the connection quality and speed has rarely been a problem. Hope this helps.

Edited: March 5, 2020, 11:51 AM · If you don't have a teacher who can be in the same room with you, I think Skype or FaceTime lessons can be a good alternative. My teacher also works as a session musician, and as a touring musician. Subsequently, some of our lessons are on Skype either from Europe or Australia or wherever she or I may be in the United States. Now the vast majority of our lessons are in person and one-on-one, but this is something that might help you. I'll give you her website, and encourage you to contact her for possible lessons. Frankly, I think she's excellent, and extremely skilled. Plus, she laughs at my bad jokes. The only downside to these lessons is the obvious fact that she can't reach out and correct something by moving my arms or fingers. Also, if I have a question about the music, I have to hold it up to the camera. However, these are problems that can be resolved with ease and a little imagination. Here is her website If she can't do it, perhaps she can recommend someone who can. Best of luck.
March 5, 2020, 3:40 PM · Buffalo?
Edited: March 5, 2020, 3:54 PM · Doesn't a train connect the Niagara Falls area and Toronto? Isn't there also bus service? Your parents driving is not the only option.

And yes, Buffalo, also train/bus options. I'd expect, although that has the annoyance of a border crossing.

Edited: March 5, 2020, 4:32 PM · Thank you all for your responses!

@Steve Hancock
I’m so glad to hear that it worked out so well for your son and good luck for conservatory acceptance! Hopefully I can make it work for me too. Might I ask if you think his teacher would be willing to teach another student through Skype?

@Michael Kennedy
I’ll take a look! Thank you so much!

@Lydia Leong
Yes, that’s correct. Unfortunately I do not have the time to invest 6-7 hours per week to take lessons. Additionally, my parents would never allow it because academics have always and will continue to be my priority. I really do wish I could focus more on violin, but considering the current market and my skill level, it doesn’t look like a wise choice for my future.

March 6, 2020, 6:37 AM · You can certainly talk to my son’s teacher. You can find her at the New Jersey Academy of Music where she is the director.

All the best!

March 8, 2020, 9:24 AM · @Steve Hancock
Thank you so much!
March 8, 2020, 10:09 AM · Eastman is only an hour and a half away I believe. You could contact a teacher there maybe
March 16, 2020, 1:47 AM · I find Skype lessons work really well! I teach on Skype and have had lessons on Skype and both have worked great. Just make sure you have good wi fi! :)
March 23, 2020, 5:43 PM · SKYPE LESSONS WORK!!!
I've been taking lessons from THE FILIP POGADY from Instagram. All I can say is: He is incredible! This guy will definitely help you get to the next level. The amount of knowledge he has about technique and the violin repertoire is incredible to say the least. My sound has improved so much! Check him out if you haven't already - highly recommended!

An advantage of online lessons is that I can have my lesson even when I'm traveling - all i need is my laptop, or even just my phone.
One thing I will say though, is that i wouldn't recommend online lessons to beginners. Those still do need the hands on approach of in-person lessons. But yeah, it's working amazingly well for me.

March 24, 2020, 10:33 AM · Very timely post, since virtually every violin teacher I know is now teaching online (myself included). This is probably a great time to approach almost any teacher you are interested in studying with about Skype lessons since everyone is learning the technology and most musicians are looking for additional online students to offset the income loss from cancelled gigs.
I am personally finding online lessons working surprisingly well (young new students are more difficult, but anyone who has been playing for awhile has been just fine).
Edited: March 24, 2020, 10:56 PM · I teach Online Violin Lessons, but I use Zoom Meetings. They work very well and i would love to work with you if you are interested.
Online Violin Lessons
March 24, 2020, 11:43 PM · I am hoping that some enterprising teachers will start doing live online masterclasses.

(I'd like to watch adults, for once, at a masterclass. Rarely ever happens, though.)

March 25, 2020, 3:39 AM · Hi there,

I have been teaching Skype lessons for many years, and at the moment with our semi-lockdown all lessons are online, although at the moment I mostly use Zoom.
They are perfectly possible, for all levels of players. And if you don't need to travel, there is so much mroe time for practice!

Best wishes,
Henriette at Pro-Am Strings

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