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  • Writer's pictureSharla Van Cleave

Pros and Cons of Online Lessons

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

As a teacher who has given one on one lessons for more than 30 years I would have never dreamed about any kind of piano lessons online. When I say the words "piano lessons online" to most people, their response is "WHAT? How is does THAT work.?"

Actually it works very well. We are not talking about facetime or skype here. I've tried those in the past and was not impressed. But with the proper equipment, video online platforms, demonstration software and assignment apps, we can replicate fun and learning just as about as well as in person. Woops.... there was that word "just about" Well... thats the thing...most parents will not be eager to go out and purchase equipment to turn their living room into a professional recording studio as I have done. The "Just about" comes from students using their very small cell phones for the lesson. Which leads us to the pros and cons.


  1. Convenience for mom and student since it is done from your home.

  2. To my surprise, students were a LOT more engaged! Most students who were difficult to manage on the bench in person suddenly became more interested and asking questions about the piece, and telling me specifically where they needed help.

  3. Encourages independent learning. Sometimes in traditional lessons students expect the teacher to do everything for them and refuse to try so the teacher ends up teaching by rote. I can proudly announce that students became more interested in learning and making an effort to do things by their self

  4. The Tonara practice app encourages practice by providing a studio leaderboard and a global leaderboard for those who have a natural sense of competition. Thus promoting increased practice leading to more rapid progress. .

  5. Teaches better listening skills.

  6. Improves focus on the teacher.

  7. Through the Tonara app we can build studio bonding between students even better than before with peer group messaging.

  8. Teaches students to be more giving and encourage others. Students have amazed me and I greatly LOVED watching them encourage each other to practice more, and provide strength and courage by sharing their feelings before a performance or recital.

  9. Because today's students are practically born knowing how to use technology, online lessons provide more socialization to an otherwise lonely activity. Ok, at this point I can hear you saying how can that be when they are alone online and not in my house where i can pat them on the back and encourage them. Not in my house where they can physically see the student before and after their lesson. This is an easy answer... NOW They can be connected all week long and not just during their lesson. See number 10 for more.

  10. Ability to send sticker to peer group, ability to send messages to teacher, ability to send recordings to the teacher. While young students usually don't have a phone to text others for communication. The tonara app provides communication between teacher and students that would not normally occur during traditional lessons. All of this communication is delivered in a safe and protected environment through this app where parents have access to recordings, assignments, chats, media and parents can use as a means of communication as well.

  11. As mentioned in 10, Allows student communication with the teacher throughout the week, whether it is asking a question or asking about the way the piece sounds.

  12. Provides increased saftey- Even when there is no pandemic, normal traditional lessons spread germs. Every child sneezes on the piano keyboard and coughs in the teachers face at some point during the school year. I've even heard of students throwing up into the keys of the piano. Heaven forbid.

  13. No missed lessons. Fewer missed lessons due to illness, bad weather or car trouble.

  14. Specialized software makes it easier for students to understand chord shapes, chord progressions, black notes in scales, and theory in general because it's easier to see with colored keys for instruction and demonstration. Nine times out of ten when I ask the student if they would prefer me to play with the overhead camera or use the colored keys software for instruction, they choose the software via midi keyboard.

  15. Multi angled cameras provide better views for ease of understanding hand shapes, technique and how to use the pedal.


  1. No touching between teacher and student. No pats on the back... we have to find other ways to say good job.

  2. No touching to shape hands for technique... Oh wait....this is actually a pro...see 15 above.

  3. Parent's cant drop the student off early and pick up late for free babysitting.

  4. Pianos in students homes are in bad shape. Pianos not kept in tune provide a harder time of ear training. Especially if the student has perfect pitch. ( Oh wait.... this happens even though the student is coming to the studio in person. I only just have discovered it now since going online.

  5. Internet issues. A Reliable high speed internet is best for online lessons and even then the load on the internet can bog down during peak hours.

  6. Student not being able to afford a larger screen than moms phone.

  7. We just miss hugging goodbye at the end of the lesson.

If any adult students or parents can think of anymore pros or cons please email them to me at

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