Music education has become more and more accessible with lessons being offered at most music shops such as Guitar Center, Sam Ash, and local shops. Private lessons are designed to help teach kids the right way to play their instrument of choice however, there seems to be a disconnect between teacher and student with lessons coming from workers of these big box stores which leads to people abandoning their education due to the frustration of them not seeing the results they seem fit. This leads to an interesting conversation, how important are lessons to the actual growth of a music student? With technology becoming more advanced are in person lessons worth the frustration when all someone has to do is do a quick search on YouTube to find what they want to learn. With most music teachers having what they want to teach versus letting the student kind of choose what they want to learn. There are more and more ways of having instructor lead lessons that have a focus on letting students choose what they want to do. The pairing of instructor/student is also very important, you don’t want to have a student paired with an instructor that doesn’t focus on that style of music that the student wants to learn instructors also prefer teaching someone who fits their style so that they can answer those questions that the student has the genre they are learning. It doesn’t make sense for an instructor that focuses on Country to teach a student who wants to learn how to play Metalcore or Hardcore, on the flip side a student wouldn’t want to be taught by an instructor that focuses on metal, but wants to learn Jazz or Country. I want to share a couple options that will hopefully help them in their quest for music education because I do think it is highly important as it helps with other areas of life.
Ex-For Today and current We Came As Romans drummer David Puckett started an online lesson platform called Music Mentors Online. The premise behind this is geared towards those trying to make it into the metal/punk scene with webinars and music lessons by the industries biggest stars. The roster of webinars includes Matty Mullins of Memphis May Fire, Dan Gailey of Phinehas, Seth Blake of Wage War, Luke Holland ex-The Word Alive, and others that are masters of their instruments. They also offer weekly lessons that focus on guitar, bass, vocals, drums, and production with the respected teacher of each instrument. As a current Music Mentors Online student this has taught me so much more than what I have ever learned with in-person lessons the only issue I’ve come across is since the lessons are over Skype if I had an issue with my guitar the teacher couldn’t show me what was wrong. This may be a turn off to most people since they enjoy having someone there in person versus on a webcam that may or may not work that week. There’s also the subject of the teacher’s touring schedule since a majority of these teachers are in full-time touring bands there may be a stretch where lessons aren’t performed due to their schedule. However, the teachers will always try to make it happen and if they can’t make it they always make the effort to communicate that. I do appreciate the open line of communication and they are there to answer any questions I may or may not have. The best thing about this is it is surprisingly affordable with 700+ hours of recorded webinars, free admission to other webinars they announce and the weekly lessons are only 100 dollars a month all of this should be close 1000 per month according to Puckett.
School of Rock has an interesting take on music education. They focus on performance-based learning, they take the students and teach them their respective instruments with the idea of getting them ready to play on stage. The teachers have a specific genre they specialize in so they cover a majority of the genres that students will want to play. They also offer the opportunity to play in a jam session with other students to help with the idea of playing in a band with other people. The school also offers a program that offers students the chance to experience what it’s like to be in a touring band called the All-Stars program, this is an auditioned program that usually takes students that have played quite a bit of shows and the audition program is quite intense since this is a nationwide school with people from all over auditioning to be in this program. The teachers also have degrees in musical education so they have a music theory background style of teaching, they also play in bands and have played shows so they know what it takes to play on stage. Music education is something this music school takes very seriously and they make it fun, and offering a free lesson to get a feel of what they offer is an awesome way seeing if its the right fight. It is a little bit pricey with lessons starting at 200 a month just for the 45 min lessons, and the jam sessions adding 50 bucks with lessons. For in-person lessons, this would be an awesome route to take especially if the end goal is to play on stage, and it has university trained teachers that want to help their students get better.
Rocksmith first came out for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2012 as a new entry into the music rhythm game genre. The premise was to teach guitar players how to play actual songs with any guitar they had and take them note by note, section by section until their mastered the song. With the variety of songs they offered on disk and with DLC they have songs for just about any music fan, this also creates a fun way of learning since there may be an artist or song that grabs your attention and makes you want to learn that song. In the updates since its initial launch, they have also added bass support and a microphone option if you so choose to sing with the game and it will act like the rock band vocal track. This method of learning can be extremely frustrating and sometimes can honestly feel like you aren’t learning that much since you are relying on reading notes on a screen versus having someone show you what the song is doing. Tablatures can be equally frustrating to try to read especially as a beginning guitarist that is trying to learn his or her favorite song. This is where the in-person aspect of learning can really come in handy if there’s a tab or song that a student wants to play the instructor can show the student how to play the song they want to learn. I would still recommend anyone get this game still as it can be a fun way of learning how to play guitar or bass.
Music education has many different faces to it and it’s up to the student on how they want to learn. Some people do better with self-learning since they can go at their own pace and learn what they want to learn, versus having someone kind of show you want they want you to learn. In person lessons, I feel like should be added on with those who do try to learn by themselves as it will help them grow with their instrument just by having someone there who can show you your mistakes and correct you on what you should be doing versus what you think should be doing. Even the best guitarist in metal right now at one time had an instructor and they say that having to show them what they were doing wrong helped them out in the long run versus them trying to learn it all by themselves. There are those people out there that have the knack to pick it up by ear and those are the ones that would benefit the most from playing Rocksmith or trying to read tabs. In the end, it all comes down to preference and comfort level when it comes down to learning an instrument music education is changing and it will be interesting to see how technology advances or hinders that advancement.