Online Lessons

Aug 6, 2020

When I was featured in our NPR affiliate's Midday Magazine this summer, (WAMC.ORG) I was able to outline some learning needs as we live through an unforeseen age. Where would we be now without technology?

Learning an instrument is supposed to be fun and goal-driven. The #1 complaint I hear from students is that they've watched "YouTube" lessons as far as they can, and they've hit a plateau. Some guitarists only reach out to me after repeated plateaus, or failures. But the good news is this: they are reaching out. If you're reaching out for assistance, that means you have not lost the drive. I find there are several levels of defeat trying to learn on your own, as follows:

Phase 1: Wow! What a ton of online learning resources! I'll go to YouTube and find a few teachers who I like and coach myself.
Phase 2: Well, I'm going to dig deep into this teacher's lessons on YouTube. (a few weeks go by of learning how to finger a "D" chord, etc.)
Phase 3: Great! I can play a few basic chords. But I keep hitting a pay wall when I want to take my playing to the next lesson. Should I pay the monthly fee?
Phase 4: What's that charge on my bank account? Oh! It's the online guitar lessons with my favorite YouTube teacher. I really ought to log in there this week. (3 weeks pass).
Phase 5: Gosh! That website took money again...I haven't even logged on in days and days. Ok - I can do this myself! I am canceling my membership to Basement Joe's guitar lesson online service. (Student cancels service and spends money and/or time on other channels and learning supplies - books, pre recorded modules, etc., because they are pummeled with marketing emails from these "teachers")
Phase 6: Uh-oh. Now I have to turn to other YouTube teachers, or, sit and wait for free videos to come out on YouTube from my favorite teachers because I canceled my subscription service. At least I'm not getting charged anymore! (Student watches 10 - 20 "top 3 things you need to know!" videos on YouTube, getting very confused and lost amid several different learning paths).
Phase 7: I can't do this on my own. I think online or video learning is no good because it hasn't worked for me. I am heart-broken to have to give up on yet another passion or dream, but, I might as well sell my guitar because it just sits in the corner gathering dust. This is too confusing/I don't have time to invest to teach myself/I am not interested in learning online/COVID has shut down many in-person lessons and I am no longer happy with the idea of learning online.
Phase 8: Subscribe to Netlfix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu and more - and spend what used to be guitar-time now serial-watching shows. But something feels off...

Sound familiar? Yes. I can relate. Do you know how I know? You've told me. Students just like you from all over the capital region of New York and beyond - all over the northeast - have inquired for lessons and all describe the same struggle, more or less, with "YouTube" lessons and their idea of online learning.
We are all struggling with adaptation to online learning amid current situations - whether you are a teacher, coach, or student. This is uncharted territory. But- I am writing this post to encourage you. Please check out my interview for some words of guitar-wisdom at

So what's the solution? A very, very simple fix. Answer these two questions for me:

1. What motivated you to want to learn guitar?
2. Who do you want to play for?

If you can answer those two questions - and let me be clear - they are of the utmost importance - you can achieve your dream. You can work with a teacher one-on-one (no, YouTube does NOT allow you to interact with another human experienced in the field of teaching) to chart out very simple, achievable, bite-size goals.

Don't give up. Just answer those two simple questions. Email me at the contact form on this site. Or, reach out to any qualified teacher. You deserve it.

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