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Online Lessons .vs Private teacher
Topic Rating: 4.6 Topic Rating: 4.6 Topic Rating: 4.6 Topic Rating: 4.6 Topic Rating: 4.6 Topic Rating: 4.6 (9 votes) 
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starise
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August 29, 2019 - 3:04 pm
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I would appreciate any opinions on what you think about online training for violin? I enrolled in one course which is pretty good. My learning style seems to be such that I almost need a teacher to grab my ear and pull me into shape. I hate to admit maybe my online concentration skills are lacking. My eyes sometimes glaze over.

Have you had success learning to play online? Do you feel it's any better or worse than a personal tutor? I love the videos Fiddlerman has posted up here. I'm just wondering if it's best to augment it with a teacher?

I had a teacher for three years and she was very helpful. I felt I often dropped the ball by not getting to the place I wanted to be by the next lesson. I had good intentions. Earning a living and chores sometimes get in the way. I still feel it was a good experience. I did make progress. Now my teacher has moved away.

The one I felt would help me most is some distance away. I already drive a lot on a daily basis. She has me in a later time slot making a late day for a guy that rises  very early every day. I'm willing to still take the lessons. It's going to be a long day and my candle will be pretty much burned out by the time I take the lesson.

I must be crazy, but I'm still looking forward to it. Do you have any experiences, stories to tell about taking private lessons? Pros or cons you care to mention?

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cid
August 29, 2019 - 4:35 pm
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@starise 

I will tell you my experience and thoughts. But, first, I want to say, some people can do it online, others find it difficult, others just can’t make it work.

I am of the latter. To make online learning of anything, you pretty much have to be a very disciplined and structured person. You have to be able to have the discipline to treat that time as a lesson as you would if you went to a studio.

By this I mean, you have to schedule that time, every week. Treat it as a necessity. You have paid for it, just like a studio lesson. If you can’t be disciplined to “attend” every week, it would be like cancelling a lesson.

From what I have heard or read from others with online lessons, or any subject matter, that is the case. If a person does not have the self-discipline for online learning or has issues with watching a monitor to learn, that person should probably come up with a better way, or at least other means to use with online to augment it. If someone is strong with online but not getting enough, that person should augment that online method by other means of learning. Whichever is your strongest way of learning should be augmented by the other.  I am disciplined, but I still need the personal touch of an instructor and material in my hand, and cannot concentrate when using a monitor, video or screen to learn.

I, personally, need written material to hold, read, make notes with, and depending on the subject matter, great photos to help demonstrate and explain.

I cannot look at a monitor and keep my attention. It really, for me, is not like having the instructor with me, even if questions can be emailed in.

Some use Skype teachers. Again, that is a monitor, I just cannot do that as the main source. It is not written material I can hold, flip pages, write notes, etc.

That just is the way my learning process is. Other people learn differently. How best you learn and can learn efficiently for the time you have, is something you will have to explore.

MY OWN ONLINE EXPERIENCE

I joined Violin Lab. It was pretty good. But I could not do it. I needed to leave the house and attend a lesson, and have instruction books. Violin Lab is very well organized and is fee based, but all that info was there and I saw no structure as I need it. I can’t have all that info available. Maybe it was curiosity with this format as well as it being done looking at a screen. By curiosity I mean, I did not really have to stick to the curriculum. It was all there, and I spent time on things I was not ready for.

I had no clue when to move on to the next lesson, either.

Another online source is the Online Piano and Violin Teacher by Alison Sparrow. It is free. She is very talented. She has free YouTube lessons and downloadable material you can purchase.

BOOKS:

I like Essential Elements Strings for Violin. I have the one with interactive online. The lessons are not online, the book has the lessons. The songs are online, allowing you to play them with accompaniment.

There is another book I bought, with the same idea with the songs online as the Essential Elements Strings Violin, but I cannot recall the name. Both series are good and give you plenty of songs to play with to learn whatever you are learning at that stage.

IN CONCLUSION

Of course, a good instructor is best. But, a good instructor is only as good as the student is at putting in the time for lesson material before the next lesson. And a good instructor is only as good as the student is at providing her or him with information on that student’s learning needs, from the first lesson on through until no more lessons are being taken.

I know I have thrown a lot at you. I have struggled for almost a year. First I had no instructor. Online did not work for me. My books I purchased and the occasional YouTube helped. Then I found Fiddlershop’s learning library of videos. It was not online learning, it was videos augmenting my books.

Then I found the only instructor available and she was not really helpful for me. Then she cancelled class after class after class. I cancelled her. I am now using the same instructor I found for cello. I have a wonderful violin instructor and I switch every other week between cello and violin. For me, this works.

So, you have to search your soul and decide how much time you can devote. If you are going to do it online, schedule a slot in your week, just as you would for an in person lesson, and “attend”. The rest you will have to figure out, based on your needs.

Ask yourself some questions:

  1. Am I able to be disciplined to “attend” each week.
  2. Can I create my own schedule and lesson plan and stick to it? Structure your lesson time.
  3. Can I tell when I am able to move on? Progress when ready.

It sounds like you want to do this. You just have to examine your built-in learning system and do what best suits your learning style, explore time available, and resources available.

I hope this helps.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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AndrewH
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August 29, 2019 - 7:22 pm
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Depends on what we're calling online "lessons," doesn't it?

To me, "online lessons" means Skype or Zoom. I don't consider it a lesson unless I'm interacting with someone. I make a distinction between instructional videos and online lessons. So I don't think discipline is really too much of an issue with online lessons -- they're still scheduled, there's still a human on the other end, and ideally you're still taking notes.

The main disadvantage of online lessons, to me, is that learning the motions is more difficult when you're not in the same room as your teacher. Physical corrections are impossible, and when limited by a camera angle it's harder both for the teacher to observe what the student is doing wrong and for the student to observe what the teacher is demonstrating.

That said, online lessons are a good alternative option when unable to find a local teacher. I'm planning to start online lessons when I recover from the shoulder injury I have now. I've tried in-person lessons, but scheduling around work was a huge pain with a teacher who was only available on weekdays during the day. In my area, I've found teachers who teach advanced viola students, and teachers who are available evenings or weekends, but those who teach advanced viola students are only available weekdays during the day, and those who are available evenings or weekends only teach up to intermediate level.

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August 29, 2019 - 8:12 pm
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I'm very grateful that we have so many options now when learning the violin. I do believe we have different types of learning styles cid. Even though I have great spacial awareness. As in geometery and such. Mechanical ability, that sort of thing, something about looking at a monitor leaves a definite disconnect when compared to being by a real human being who might be showing me how to hold my bow arm or play another example. Not that I couldn't learn that way if I had no other option. I think the main thing  watching videos is I have no immediate feedback such as, " you did well", or " we need to try that again". I suspect a skype teacher may not see everything that's happening and there is usually a slight delay in skype connections making the whole process seem a bit clunky sometimes, at least when I make video phone calls it's like that.

I think Andrew precisely described my feelings when using online lessons.BTW Andrew I do hope your shoulder feels better soon. I will say that violin lab has been an overall great experience for me so far. Probably about the best your going to get online in this type of format. I mentioned to the forum over there that I felt I was slipping without a teacher. Beth Blackerby (if that's her real name) suggested augmenting with a teacher might be a good idea for me. Her making that comment gave me the utmost respect for her. She puts her students above her bottom line same as Fiddlerman. When you look online Andrew I recommend violinlab.com. 

For lack of a better description her lessons/videos are set up for a very  strategic, disciplined person. Much like a college course. The practice course is especially like this IMHO.If you can follow what she is telling you to do or not do you'll improve. I tend to need two or three listens on some of it for it to "sink in" for me. Others might not have an issue at all. It's mainly my learning style that gets in the way, not her videos.

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cid
August 29, 2019 - 9:36 pm
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@starise 

I do believe we have different types of learning styles cid. Even though I have great spacial awareness. As in geometery and such. Mechanical ability, that sort of thing, something about looking at a monitor leaves a definite disconnect when compared to being by a real human being who might be showing me how to hold my bow arm or play another example. Not that I couldn't learn that way if I had no other option.

Actually, I must have explained myself wrong, or reading this wrong. I can’t learn online. I need the instructor. Tried online when I was not able to get an instructor, but it did not work. I wrote to Violin Lab and explained my problem, and was actually refunded. Like Andrew said, Beth is wonderful. I deleted everything that I had downloaded after the refund because I got all my money back. Didn’t seem right to keep it. That was last November.

Sorry for confusion. Was not sure what you were asking about. At first I thought it was just about online, then at the bottom I noticed personal instructor, so addressed many options people use. But the personal instructor is best, for me. Others may find other ways to be best for them. In the end, I guess it depends on your best learning method and resources. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Pete_Violin
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August 29, 2019 - 9:45 pm
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All excellent advise.  Great points.  I agree 100%.

I would only add that the decision to work with an online "lesson" or learning is also at least partly dependent on what stage of learning you are in.

When I first began with violin, I had not yet found a teacher.  I intended to find private lessons because I knew that I wanted to begin right.  I wanted to avoid bad habits if possible and I needed the very basics such as posture, bow hold, left hand, etc.  I felt that at the level I was beginning I needed hands on teaching with a person that can check how I was holding the bow, the violin... everything that I was doing.  

It turned out there were many areas that I needed to be coached on.  But like I said I had not found that teacher until a month into my playing, during which time I was looking online for help.  

I did, however, have a friend.  An experienced viola player who gave me some basic pointers.

When I began private lessons, there were some areas that already needed correcting.  I had already started creating bad habits that would drastically affect my intonation and how I was holding my violin and bow.  I was lucky that I did find a teacher who could address these early enough that I could correct them before serious habits were created.  

So to answer @starise questions, I believe that it is best for a beginner to start as soon as possible with a private teacher that can observe closely and help to create good playing habits early.  Once the basic habits and posture are established I believe that online help can be beneficial.  It may even be possible to go to online lessons completely for some.  For me, I will continue private lessons as long as is needed for me.  I find them to be the most beneficial for how I learn.

- Pete -

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Mimi Aysha
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August 30, 2019 - 9:24 am
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I like my teacher! try to get a lesson in every 2 weeks, or once a month at least. My teach knows it's hard as an adult, time, distance, etc...so he will give me tons of stuff to work on....and tells me to call him, or just get through as much as I can.

Not liking the idea of Skype video lessons tho, tried it once and kept wishing I could rewind, and then forgot the person was real, almost wandered off to make coffee!

....but the other stuff, like follow along vids I think are great....

I am learning just as much, or more of a variety, when it comes to online, just the video lessons.....most of them are free (or $10-$20 a tune)...and I like the flexibility of time....following along with a video lesson, being able to rewind and such for the hard bits, watch it over and play along, a great tool.

Obviously there's no one there to correct technique and all, but there's some great stuff out there...

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HP
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August 30, 2019 - 10:02 am
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I wouldn't take online personal lessons unless there's a specific reason for it. It could be beneficial to take online lessons if you don't have any teachers available in your area. For one you can have technical issues (and believe me, they will occur when you expect them the least.). It's harder to find a good playing position because the viewpoint is so fixed. Distortion of the sound. Bad video quality due to poor connection. So on so fourth. So for playing I personally wouldn't go for online lessons unless it's a very special teacher like for instance Arve Tellefsen or Ray Chen or someone else.

However for other aspects of musicianship I wouldn't mind a one on one online lesson. For example music theory, composition, music production or ways in the field. These things are great for that kind of format.

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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starise
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August 30, 2019 - 11:16 am
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Mimi Aysha said
I like my teacher! try to get a lesson in every 2 weeks, or once a month at least. My teach knows it's hard as an adult, time, distance, etc...so he will give me tons of stuff to work on....and tells me to call him, or just get through as much as I can.

Not liking the idea of Skype video lessons tho, tried it once and kept wishing I could rewind, and then forgot the person was real, almost wandered off to make coffee!

  

roflol The Skype teacher would be like, where did she go? I'm a big dummy using Skype. I interviewed a girl from Norway once and was surprised she could speak such good English...didn't know they speak it all the time and watch English television. I need to get out more.

I like teachers like yours who offer to go a step further if you need it. I always felt like I never completed everything my last teacher gave me to do.She would tell me to send her a text if I had trouble. I never did. It was nice that she offered to do that.

I might maintain some of my online lesson material for reference and take the in person lessons if I can too. I really hope this goes well with this teacher. In doing the math though, a person can rack up a substantial amount of money in lessons. Enough to buy a nice violin in a few years. I still see it as a value and I want to support those who worked so hard to learn and teach it. 

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Pete_Violin
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August 30, 2019 - 11:37 am
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Forget everything I said...

I would take lessons from Hilary Hahn over Skype any time if she'd teach me. roflol

- Pete -

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AndrewH
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Thanks for the recommendation, @starise, but it isn't really applicable to me -- I'm about 10 years beyond the "advanced" material on Violin Lab, and looking for viola-specific instruction. I've already recommended Violin Lab to other people for well over a year, though.

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Fiddlerman
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September 8, 2019 - 12:10 pm
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I have met musicians who claim that they have learned everything online and for free, who play quite amazingly.
Some things are easier when interacting personally with a teacher but when there is a will there is a way.
No matter how you learn, you need to focus and work to excel.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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starise
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I started  in person lessons again. I think for me it's probably best for at least the next several years if I can continue to do it. Much of the material I am learning isn't something I would have picked to play, although I find it's really helping bring out things about my playing I would have overlooked.

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Fiddlerman
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Happy to hear it. Did you find a good match? A teacher that you like?

Enjoy.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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starise
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Thanks for inquiring Pierre. I like my present teacher. I've only had one lesson with her. We made plans for me to continue lessons, so I guess she is going to keep me around, at least for now. I made improvements in only the first lesson. She fills out a sheet for me to take home and look over which I think is very helpful. If I didn't have that I might forget the key points she wanted to make.

I look forward to it every week!

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Fiddlerman
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September 9, 2019 - 2:22 pm
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The worksheet is a wonderful thing.
Glad that you found her.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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damfino
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I've done both, in-person lessons and online Skype lessons. I really liked the in-person lessons for the start of my learning, being able to play along with my teacher, match her tempo and hear her intonation to match it, have her watching my technique, etc.

I stopped after my nerve got messed up, but didn't go back because her hours were getting less flexible. I used my day off from work during the week for my lesson, and I am an early riser, and kind of liked to do my lesson when the shop opened and then run my errands or go to a park and get some air. But my lessons kept getting pushed later and later until it was at 2pm, which really was a pain for me, so when I was ready for lessons again, I explored other options.

What I found was a fiddler that I followed on instagram was starting to offer lessons via Skype, so I messaged her and we made an appointment to meet on Skype and go over what I was looking for, and what she offered. We felt like we'd be a good match, and honestly, at this point in my learning it's perfect. I don't feel the need to have someone watch every bit of my technique anymore, and I can do a lot of my learning outside of lessons. We run through ear learning tunes, which again is perfect for me, and she gives me lots of traditional Irish playing tips, and sends me short videos as a follow up to our lessons. I have them every other week, which gives me time to be prepared even if I do have a nerve flare up.

So I love the Skype lessons right now. I have them first thing in the morning, and since I'm home I have time to just sit and noodle around to warm up before the lesson. I don't think it would have been what I needed at the start of my playing, but at this point in the game, it's perfect for me, and I would recommend these kind of lessons to people.

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starise
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September 12, 2019 - 12:35 pm
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Thanks for sharing that damfino. I'm glad the Skype works well for you.

Of course, we are all different. In my case, I needed someone to tell me to SLOW DOWN. As a person who began with Irish fiddle I was always trying to keep up with everyone. What I didn't realize was I missed a lot  not learning some of the techniques slower first. As an adult who is geared for goals asap, this was a tough one for me. Another thing I suspect some fiddlers miss is learning the higher positions and some of the 4th finger positions. This was me because I could play 100 songs using all 1st position. 

I am finding it is really tough to play some material slow and with feeling. My teacher actually put me back to a song in Suzuki book 2 I'm ashamed to admit, because my 4th finger notes needed some more development. She seems to be systematically taking me through Suzuki material where I am deficient. Might be book 3 or book two or higher. She jumps around. I could play some material at the end of book 3 but missed earlier techniques training.

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Pete_Violin
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starise said
Thanks for sharing that damfino. I'm glad the Skype works well for you.

Of course, we are all different. In my case, I needed someone to tell me to SLOW DOWN. As a person who began with Irish fiddle I was always trying to keep up with everyone. What I didn't realize was I missed a lot  not learning some of the techniques slower first. As an adult who is geared for goals asap, this was a tough one for me. Another thing I suspect some fiddlers miss is learning the higher positions and some of the 4th finger positions. This was me because I could play 100 songs using all 1st position. 

4th finger sometimes needs attention.  Try to use it as much as you can and be sure to use it instead of the equivalent open strings.  Just keep using your 4th finger.

I am finding it is really tough to play some material slow and with feeling. My teacher actually put me back to a song in Suzuki book 2 I'm ashamed to admit, because my 4th finger notes needed some more development. She seems to be systematically taking me through Suzuki material where I am deficient. Might be book 3 or book two or higher. She jumps around. I could play some material at the end of book 3 but missed earlier techniques training.

Do not feel bad at all about going back and forth through material.  It takes a good teacher to recognize what you need to work on and how to address it.  This is no reflection on your abilities.

I am working on scales right now.  We are going through the melodic, harmonic, thirds and harmonic thirds.  When I first started, I thought we would spend a week on each scale.  It turns out that it is taking up to 3 weeks per scale.  At first I thought something was wrong with me, but my teacher is just going through every detail and making sure I am playing each scale with great tone and intonation before moving on.

Teachers are awesome!  I can't tell you how much they have helped me.

- Pete -

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starise
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September 12, 2019 - 1:46 pm
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Pete, Thanks for the encouragement to keep at it. I began working on 4th finger notes about a month before I started lessons. I am almost to the place where two or three of these feel comfortable now. I no longer hesitate to play them. Still playing a few slightly flat. Getting there slowly. 

I am working on scales right now.  We are going through the melodic, harmonic, thirds and harmonic thirds.  When I first started, I thought we would spend a week on each scale.  It turns out that it is taking up to 3 weeks per scale.  At first I thought something was wrong with me, but my teacher is just going through every detail and making sure I am playing each scale with great tone and intonation before moving on.

This is the next step for me and it really throws a wrench into it for someone who played mostly major keys on violin. I struggled playing things in other keys. Kudos to you for moving ahead with scale training. I have been putting this off. I can't do that any longer if I want my intonation and fingerings to improve. This is all much easier said than done, for me at least. Learning the 3rds might help in chords too which can lead back to playing double stops. 

Intonation can be very tricky no doubt. I usually know there's a problem with my intonation but don't always know how to correct it. Someone over on violin lab directed me to an app called intonia which tracks my notes in real time. I didn't initially believe that visual input would be helpful to someone attempting to learn by rote. Has been very helpful though. That app is free.

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