Online Guitar Lessons VS In-Person Guitar Lessons


I get questions often about the validity of online guitar lessons vs in-person guitar lessons. Many conclude that they are inferior but the reality is quite different. Though the concerns create some challenges, they are outweighed by the benefits and outcomes.

Over the past 10 years online learning has grown tremendously and will only get better over time. A decade from now we may see holograms of each other in a given space that almost equals in-person reality. The question of efficacy remains at the forefront of discussion. However, the answer to that question does not boil down to a simple yes or no.

Believe That Online Guitar Lessons Work

Even in a day when technology drives our actions, people still find it hard to accept the positive benefits. These benefits range from accessibility and convenience to location and value. Though these hold high value for people, they still seem to doubt the ability of technology to aid in learning. For those that decide to learn online, they must understand "the necessity for students to willingly suspend disbelief in order to fully engage in learning scenarios based on authentic tasks¹." Therefore without a belief that the online process works, the student will hold themselves back from true success.

Structure Equals Success

Just like any student teacher interaction, much of the learning depends on the teacher. Online guitar lessons follow the same rule. This has to do with both personality and leadership. Structure, however, seems to hold a high value in terms of creating success in the online learner². These findings encourage the use of the Music Development Program and Aaron Shearer methods in the teaching at Charleston Classical Guitar. The structure that each of these resources provide creates the ideal framework for developing an online guitar lesson system that truly yields positive results.

Feedback and Targeted Learning

Teachers, especially in the context of online guitar lessons, must provide meaningful feedback that caters to specific learning types and styles³. I believe this area truly separates good teachers from great teachers. The ability to give correct feedback in a language or style that a student can latch onto allows the proper application and reduces frustration in the student. The teacher must work hard to assess the best way to communicate to each individual student. Though teachers are far from perfect (including myself), we must always try to find a way to communicate our ideas in a way that each student can make sense of and process.

Online Learners Outpace Traditional Learning

The research is clear, online learning usually achieves greater results in learning than that of the traditional models4. Most studies differentiate between strictly online and strictly face-to-face, but the results of a combination of the two seem to be even greater. This should encourage all guitar students to take seriously the idea of studying online through face-to-face video in combination with other materials.  Like it or not, this is the future of learning in almost every field. Though human interaction can never be replaced by a machine, machines give us great leverage if we choose to use them.


  1. Herrington, J., Oliver, R. and Reeves, T.C. (2002) Patterns of engagement in authentic online learning environments. In: ASCILITE 2002 Conference, 8 - 11 December 2002, Auckland, New Zealand pp. 279-286.

  2. D. Randy Garrison , Martha Cleveland-Innes Facilitating Cognitive Presence in Online Learning: Interaction Is Not Enough American Journal of Distance Education Vol. 19, Iss. 3, 2005

  3. Sean B. Eom1,*, H. Joseph Wen1 andNicholas Ashill The Determinants of Students' Perceived Learning Outcomes and Satisfaction in University Online Education: An Empirical Investigation* 2 Version of Record online: 12 JUL 2006

  4. Means, Barbara; Toyama, Yukie; Murphy, Robert; Bakia, Marianne; Jones, Karla Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies US Department of Education May 2009