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It's Better In Real Life: Why YouTube is No Substitute for In-Person Classes

May 31, 2017

Online music lessons—such as this lesson by—have become extremely popular. Unfortunately, they’re still no replacement for traditional one-on-one classes.



In a recent interview, I asked Taaqademy faculty members Joey Sharma and Siddharth Gautam what in-person music classes had over YouTube tutorials. Siddharth pointed to the numerous facets of instrument-playing that online videos don’t always include, while Joey primarily spoke of the benefit of structured classes. But you might wonder: What are other reasons to pick in-person classes over online videos? It’s an entirely valid question—so here are a few answers.


Catching Improper Technique

As informative as some online lessons can be, there’s no getting around the fact that a person in a video can’t see what you’re doing. So even if a tutorial does a great job of explaining how to play something, there’s simply no way for a student to know if his or her technique is correct. In a best-case scenario this slows down a student’s progress; more often, however, this leads to students developing bad technique. A music teacher’s around to make sure their student’s technique is correct, ensuring that bad playing habits don’t set in.


The Personal Connection

Over time, a music teacher tends to become more than solely an instructor, very often becoming a friend and even mentor. This relationship can prove invaluable, particularly if he or she becomes someone you can go to for advice—musical or otherwise. That’s hard to come by these days, and it’s something you just don’t have when you learn from videos.


Judging Your Ability

When you’re learning alone, there often isn’t anyone to judge you but yourself. As a result, you may have no real way of gauging your proficiency. You might vastly underestimate your own skills, or, more dangerously, do the opposite and overestimate yourself. The latter in particular is fairly common, and is a well-documented form of cognitive bias. Overestimating yourself significantly hinders your development, as it prevents you from seeing where you need to improve. A music teacher, however, is a neutral judge, and can give you a fair assessment of where you stand as well as how you’ve progressed musically.



Learning to play a musical instrument requires practice—lots of practice. Yet sometimes that practice can be thoroughly boring, and far less fun than merely learning a new song. On your own, it can be extremely difficult to avoid the temptation of not practising—but that’s where a music instructor comes in. A music teacher gives you homework, and helps provide the discipline needed to learn an instrument. Sure, it’s still up to you to actually do the homework and practise, but as most of us know, it’s far easier to do boring work when there’s someone checking up on you.


Now look, there’s no denying that online lessons have their merit—there is a reason why they’ve become so popular. With online tutorials you can learn whenever and wherever you want—even if it’s 4am in your native village. The videos are also free, something which music classes (unless you’re quite lucky) certainly aren’t.


My aim, therefore, isn’t to suggest that YouTube lessons are of no value to music students; they most definitely are. But they’re no replacement for one-on-one, in-person classes, for a number of reasons.


At Taaqademy, we're staunch believers in such traditional one-on-one music classes. We believe that with music, the new should supplement and even enhance the old—but not always replace it. Online videos are a great way for students to learn—so long as they aren’t substitutes for in-person classes.



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