The Best Way to Learn Music: Private, Online or Group?

There’s an infinite amount of diversity among people, and the ways in which we learn are no exception. Accordingly, the best way to learn music is dependent on a number of factors; how focused the student is, the environment they are in, and of course, how they absorb, process, and retain information. 

Visual learners may be best suited to private lessons where the instructor can present new information through imagery and diagrams. Auditory learners, on the other hand, may excel in a group setting where they can discuss concepts with their peers. Kinesthetic learners often do better with in-person rather than online lessons, as it can be beneficial to have an instructor guiding their movements and the handling of the instrument. 

Of course, most of us aren’t wholly one type of learner or another; the vast majority of people grow their knowledge through a combination of techniques. Every student has different strengths, and with the wide variety of lesson formats available, there’s no shortage of music class options. The question is: which class is right for you?

Group vs. Private 

Benefits of Group Lessons

Builds Community

Learning a skill as a group builds community, making group lessons an excellent option for students who thrive in social situations. To start, some students are resistant to practicing when it’s presented as an obligation; the best motivator to practice may very well be the student’s peers. Unlike a parent telling their child to practice, or an adult telling themselves to, peers inspire practice. There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, especially if it advances the skills of the participants. 

A sense of community can also inspire students to continue lessons longer; not every student is able to find their people in school, and a group of like-minded musicians could be the community they’ve been searching for. 

Boosts Confidence

Just as these classes benefit social butterflies, they can also benefit students on the other end of the spectrum; introverted students who struggle to feel heard in school may flourish in a smaller group setting. Unlike the standard classroom where hoards of kids are taught by one individual, group music lessons are often under 10 students. This dynamic is lower stress, less hierarchical, and provides students with more space to speak up than the traditional school classroom setting.

This class style may be the best way to learn music for students with performance anxiety as well; playing in front of a group week after week is an excellent way for students to build confidence in their abilities in a low-stakes environment.   

Low Commitment

Another benefit to group lessons is that they require less commitment than private lessons. This is great for students who aren’t sure if they want to learn music, wish to test out a few instruments, or are picking up lessons after a lengthy break. If budget is the primary concern, online group lessons are definitely the best way to learn music. These classes are typically a fraction of the cost of private lessons, especially if you find a company that offers discounts (We do!). 

Benefits of Private Lessons

Most Personalized

Private lessons are the best way to learn music for many students; they are entirely customizable to the musician’s unique needs. Everyone learns a little differently, and what works for the group isn’t always effective for every individual. Private lessons allow instructors to create lesson plans that best suit the student, whether that be through creative activities, visualizations, demonstrations, or whatever else the student needs to succeed. 

Students may also be drawn to private lessons because they offer more agency in music selection. When someone has a choice in what they learn, they are more motivated to practice. Sure, the classics are hard to beat – but for a kid who lives in their Elsa costume, nothing could be more fun than playing the Frozen theme song – and isn’t fun what it’s all about?

More Focus

For students who have a hard time focusing, private lessons may be the best way to learn music. One-on-one attention from an instructor guarantees that nothing gets overlooked. The student is the class, so they won’t feel left behind if they struggle to grasp a new concept, and they’ll never be held back if they get it immediately. The benefits of a self-paced lesson plan can’t be overstated; falling behind can be extremely frustrating, overly simplistic lessons can bore a student – and neither situation is conducive to productive music education. 

In addition, private lessons provide the student with more accountability. It’s easy to stay quiet and slip through the cracks in a group, but in a private lesson, there’s no hiding whether you practiced or not. One-on-one attention is also great for students who are fearful of playing in front of others; learning to perform for the teacher is an excellent stepping stone to playing in front of family, peers, and eventually, the stage. 

In-person vs. Online

Benefits of In-person Lessons

Best for Kinesthetic Learners 

Kinesthetic learners do best with hands-on activities. These are the students who excel in a lab environment, figure things out by ‘messing around with them,’ and might take a radio apart just to see how it works. Music is a great outlet for kinesthetic learners because playing an instrument is tactile. It’s easier for kinesthetic learners to absorb information in person as opposed to through a screen; they need an instructor who can show them how to move and hold the instrument up close.  

Stronger Relationship With Instructors 

Many students are better able to form a relationship with their teachers in person; for some, working with someone through a screen just isn’t the same. A strong student-teacher relationship can be hugely beneficial to students. For starters, trust in a teacher allows the student to feel more comfortable participating in lessons as they know the instructor is truly there to help. A good relationship with the instructor also provides students with additional internal motivation; having someone who really cares about their success as a musician can be a great source of inspiration. 

Less distraction

For the easily distracted student, the best way to learn music will likely be in-person lessons. Online, students have to split their attention between the instrument and the screen – often, the same screen that hosts their social media, TV, and text messaging apps. In-person lessons offer more structure, fewer distractions, and more accountability with an instructor physically in the room.

Benefits of Online Lessons

Comfortable Environment 

Despite popular belief, online learning can be just as effective, if not more so, than in-person education. Whether or not that is true for the student depends on the environment they are in, the technology they have access to, and perhaps most importantly, their personality. As a whole, the education system is built primarily for extroverts; there’s ample stimulation, constant social interaction, and heaps of stress for a shy student. Online, the introvert doesn’t have to deal with all of those factors. The best way to learn music for these students is often in their own, comfortable environment. 

Enhanced Computer Skills

Online lessons can also benefit the student beyond music. Learning to navigate a computer sets students up for success in school, work, and overall life. There are also numerous digital tools students can use to enhance their music education. At Forbes, virtual musicians have access to 

an account portal equipped with calendars, profiles, lesson history and data, shared files, and opt-in notifications for important reminders. Students can also use our Repertoire Tracker and Performance Capture to see songs, pieces, topics, themes, and techniques covered. Even better? Teachers can use this software to send feedback and status updates on how the student is doing, allowing the musician to watch their skills grow with tangible evidence. 

Flexible Scheduling

Online lessons are hands-down the best way to learn music for those with a hectic schedule. There’s a multitude of online class options, so even the busiest musician can find a class that fits in their day. Online learning also allows a student to keep lessons they otherwise would’ve had to cancel. Bad weather, vacations, and rush-hour traffic aren’t limiting factors online, allowing for more continuity in the student’s education.   

Find the Best Way to Learn Music for You With Forbes

There’s no need to compromise on your music education when you’re working with Forbes; from private in-home piano lessons to virtual group songwriting, there’s something for everyone. While the best way to learn music depends on your own learning style, with our wide range of class formats, Forbes Music Company has you covered. You can test the waters with online group lessons starting as low as $10, or jump in head-first with a private lesson. Our dedicated instructors can’t wait to work with you!