This question – or variations of it – I get asked several times a week in emails from beginners looking for a teacher to help them in their quest to become better bass players.
And although I’m obviously biased because I’m in the business of online bass lessons, I honestly believe that the answer is Yes. And in fact my system of online bass guitar lessons has five distinct advantages over a more traditional face-to-face approach.
The First Advantage: Learning Is Best Done By ‘Layering’
In other articles on this site you’ll find information on how the brain learns best – and that’s by breaking down information into chunks and then going over and over it.
And you simply can’t do this with face-to-face lessons unless your instructor lets you record the lesson somehow – either with video or audio. But each of my online lessons is already chunked down into parts – so you can watch a portion of a lesson over and over as needed until the information has really soaked into your brain.
And I haven’t mentioned it yet, but my videos are saved in mp4 format, so you’re not resticted to watching them at your computer. You can transfer them to your iPhone, or iPod and watch/listen to them on the train, or in the car, or whilst exercising, or wherever.
The Second Advantage: The Online Lesson Is The Same Quality Today, Tomorrow and Forever
With face to face lessons, the quality of the experience can be adversely affected by factors outside of the lesson such as health (either yours or the instructors), energy levels (again yours or the instructors), heat (I’ve had lessons in mid summer in tiny rooms with no A/C – not pleasant!) or external noise (same tiny room, same summer, contractors drilling outside).
With the online lessons you download the segments of the lesson and then watch them back on your computer (or your iPhone, or your iPod) when you’re ready. And if I’m filming something to go into a lesson and my energy level’s not right, or the quality’s not good enough…well it doesn’t get past the editing stage. So I deliver the best lessons that I can – every single lesson.
The Third Advantage: The Split Between Teaching And Critiquing Is Clearly Defined
Great teaching needs to have two components: teaching, and critiquing. And the two activities are separate entities. But in face to face lessons they tend to get muddled up, diluting the effectiveness of both of them.
But in the online system of lessons the videos that the student’s download comprise their teaching materials. When they have been through a lesson and mastered it they have to FILM their assignement and send it to me for my critique.
So in my system the two crucial parts of teaching are clearly defined – enhancing the experience. When a student is learning something from one of my lessons he’s not sat in front of me trying to figure something out, and feeling sweaty and nervous (remember that tiny room? Not nice…). Instead he does it in the comfort of his own home – and when he’s filmed it and sent it to me he gets a detailed, written critique by email which he can then absorb at his leisure.
For some reason I’m a lot better at critiquing by email than I was face to face. Most students react defensively when critiqued face to face – but by email they actually seem to take what I’m saying onboard and usually email me back with a ‘Thank You.’
The Fourth Advantage: A Better Use Of Time
Back in the day when I last had serious lessons the guy who was my teacher lived about on the outskirts of Richmond Park. I lived in North London at that time and he was a stickler about being on time (as he had lots of pupils). So to make sure I was at his house in time for my lesson I had to allow 75 – 90 minutes to get there. And it would take 60-75 minutes to get home after the lesson. Plus the actual 60 minutes the lesson took.
So some days I ‘spent’ nearly 4 hours on a 1 hour lesson. And obviously if the guy you want to get lessons from lives further away you’re into bigger multipliers…
With my online lessons once you’ve got the material you can start going through it as soon as you want. If you took the 3 hours travelling I used to do and could allocate that to the rest of your week you’ll find you’ve suddenly come up with an extra 30 minutes of practice SIX times a week.
Over the course of a year you could leverage just that time into a lot of progress on the bass guitar!
But it’s not just your time that’s more efficient, it’s my time too. For every lesson my students get an assignement they have to film before they can progress to the next lesson, and I routinely spend 20 to 30 minutes for every student watching their videos and writing their critiques.
Sometimes I even film a critique.
When I taught face to face the critique section of the lesson – WHICH IS ALMOST AS IMPORTANT AS THE TEACHING – used to get squeezed into the last 5 minutes.
The Fifth Advantage: Cost
Depending on where you live a good bass teacher might be anything from $50 per lesson and upwards. And don’t forget that if you live somewhere off the beaten track that you might have to travel upwards of two or three hours to get to see a good bass teacher? And then when you add in petrol and time costs – plus the opportunity cost of all that driving – you’re into a serious amount of money. Per lesson.
By contrast my lessons are much, much cheaper – you’ll find out the exact pricing next week when the lessons reopen!
I believe learning online with the kind of system that I provide is more cost effective, more time effective and overall a better learning experience than the majority of face to face lessons.
At the end of the day whether YOU will learn to play bass guitar with this system depends not upon me, but upon you. Learning online is not a magic bullet, it’s merely a delivery system. Without practice, persistence and perspiration it won’t matter whether you’re taught online, face to face, by correspondence course or any other medium you can think of.