The world is shrinking with the expansion of the Internet, and with this smaller world, the popularity of online singing lessons is mushrooming. There are certainly a wide variety of benefits to taking your voice lessons online, but here are some things to consider before signing up.
What You Need For Online Singing Lessons
To get the most out of your online voice lesson, here are some suggestions of what you’ll want to have handy. The first two are imperative. The rest are optional.
High-Speed Internet, or Great Cell Reception
I can’t tell you how irritating it is to be taking an online voice lesson and have your voice teacher continually freeze as you’re trying to get through a song. It’s even worse when you can’t connect, or when your call continually gets dropped. Do a test call with someone before the lesson to make sure you’ve got adequate reception.
A Video Calling Platform
I recommend downloading Zoom, because it has full-duplex audio, which means that both you and your teacher can be talking at the same time without the sound cutting out. It has a number of great features, like screen and file sharing, meeting scheduling, and video recording. But you can get a great lesson with other platforms, like Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and VSee too!
A Music Playing Device Separate From the Device the Call is On
Because of lag issues, your voice teacher can’t accompany you on an instrument during an online singing lesson. If you plan to sing a cappella (that is, without accompaniment), then you won’t need this one, but if you want to sing with a karaoke track, it’s a good idea to have a music playing device. Any smartphone will work well, because you can find countless karaoke tracks on YouTube, Apple Music, or Spotify. It’s best if the music playing device isn’t the one you’re making the call from, because otherwise you’ll end up with some sound issues.
If you’re singing to a karaoke track, it’s even better if you have a speaker that goes with your music playing device. If your voice is loud enough, you might drown out your smartphone speaker and not be able to hear it that well.
An Accompaniment Instrument
If you plan to accompany during your lesson, or even if you just want to check for a pitch, it’s nice to have an instrument in front of you. This one is totally optional though.
A Quiet Room
I’ve taught some perfectly good online lessons in which my student is taking care of her toddler during the lesson, so again, the quiet room isn’t mandatory. It’s just probably going to be a more enjoyable lesson for you if you can shut yourself away.
Lyrics or Sheet Music to Your Song
I tend to use my iPad for this, but a smartphone or computer and printer works great too. If you subscribe to Scribd, you’ll have lots of sheet music at your fingertips, or if simple old lyrics are more your thing, sites like AZ Lyrics work just great.
A Music Stand
Totally optional, because you can just hold your lyrics or sheet music, but a music stand will give you a little more freedom.
A Recording Device
Because having a recording of your voice lesson to practice with is indispensable. Depending on what app you’re using for your video call, you might be able to record right inside the app (like Skype, for example).
Pros to Online Voice Lessons
There are so many great benefits to online voice lessons. Here are just a few.
You Can Take Lessons From Any Voice Teacher in the World
Okay, there may be some constraints, like whether that teacher offers online lessons and whether the time zones make scheduling viable, but in general, the world is your oyster. We’ve had voice students successfully taking lessons with us from India, Pakistan, the UK, and all over the United States.
You Don’t Have to Leave Your House
Let’s face it. Especially as an adult, a good portion of the music lesson battle is just carving out the time to drive to your lesson. An in-home voice teacher is certainly an option, but then you have to find someone in your area willing to drive to you. With online lessons, you can literally take a break at work or put your baby down for a nap, go into another room, and take your lesson.
You Can Do Them While Traveling (or While Your Teacher is Traveling)
I once worked with a voice teacher who taught at her LA studio 3 weeks out of the month and her NYC studio 1 week out of the month. Because I was taking online lessons, it didn’t matter to me which studio she was working out of. When I travel for vocal conferences, I reschedule all my in-person vocal students, but I keep the online ones (or any in-person ones who want to take an online lesson) at their normal times.
Cons to Online Voice Lessons
Online singing lessons are amazing, but there are some drawbacks you should be aware of before signing up.
Your Teacher Can’t Accompany You in Real-Time
This is the big one. In person, your voice teacher can accompany you as you sing your vocal exercises and will often also accompany you on your song. Because of the delay in video chat, it’s still not possible for that to work during online lessons. There are viable ways around this: Your teacher can play the vocal exercise in advance, and you can sing it right after the piano happens. They can also record accompaniment for your song and send it to you via file sharing. But I won’t sugarcoat it: It’s just not the same as having someone there accompanying you live. Technology advances so quickly that I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a solution to this problem in the next couple years. Hopefully soon I’ll be writing an addendum to this post saying that this one is no longer an issue.
You Have to be More Proactive With Materials
At an in-person voice lesson, your teacher can print lyrics and look up sheet music. At an in-person lesson, you at least have to have a few things prepared on your own (although lyrics can certainly be sent via email, text, or file sharing).
Your Teacher Can’t Help as Much With the Physical Parts of Singing
When I run lessons in person, I often help my students learn to use support by doing crazy things like pinning their arms down and pushing on their foreheads (only if the student is comfortable with that, of course). When I run an online voice lesson, I don’t have this option and can just assign the student actions to try on their own.
What is The Inside Voice
Here at Molly’s Music, we have our own unique online singing lesson program. We certainly offer regular weekly or biweekly online lessons (the same way that we offer in-person weekly or biweekly lessons), but we also have our video lesson subscription program, The Inside Voice.
The Inside Voice is different from any other service because it balances costs with results. It is a low-cost subscription service that includes video exchanges with your teacher, unlimited texting, personalized vocal exercises, a weekly subscriber-only show that focuses on vocal tips, curated performance opportunities (in the LA area), and a monthly “in-person” online lesson via Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or whichever platform you like.
Molly is the founder of Molly’s Music. She is a dedicated singer and pianist whose musical journey spans 2.5 decades, with stops along the way to sing for the pope, pass Certificate of Merit at the highest level, study with Gwen Verdon and Ben Vereen, and record an original album.