Online guitar lessons

So you’re keen to learn the guitar and given the current climate, you’re considering online guitar lessons. Perhaps you’re just looking for a way to share your hobby with other enthusiasts, in the absence of venues and other opportunities to get together in person we are all adapting to being online. And in fact we find Zoom a great medium to deliver our guitar lessons on.

Online guitar lessons offer opportunity to learn both live and in a group, but with the flexibility to join in as much or as little as is comfortable to you. Our zoom lessons for example, are a real two-way event with you watching and listening to the tutor, offering the opportunity to ask questions or even play something for the group if you’re feeling confident!. However you decide to join in, it’s important your set-up is as good as it can be in order to get the most out the session.

If your technology works you’ll probably be fine and dandy; if it’s dodgy then ……. let’s not go there! Here are a few pointers to help your get set-up and joining an online guitar lesson.

  1. Connecting to the internet

WiFi v network cable – if possible, we advise that you:

  • connect your device directly to your router via a network cable, not via your WiFi.
  • keep others off your network while you’re in a lesson!

General guidance: if you’ve been able to stream YouTube/other videos or attend Skype/other calls then you’ll probably be fine.

You’ll need good broadband – Zoom recommends a minimum of 1.5Mbps up and down; ideally 5Mbps up and 25Mbps down. You can do a speed test using any reputable testing service e.g. BT, Vodafone, Which, etc.

  1. Downloading Zoom

Your device – anything with a large screen i.e. laptop or tablet is best. One of the bigger smartphones will do the trick though. All devices usually come with in-built mic, camera and speaker; external USB ones will be fine as well. Test them well in advance of any session.

Download the Zoom app here. Make sure it’s the one for your device: Windows, Android, IOS, etc and you can test the basic set up by:

  • G0ing to Zoom to test your connection, or
  • By starting a new meeting from you app home screen.

Once you’re in a meeting, check your mic/speakers/camera are all connected and working. Also make yourself aware of how to use the mic, video and screen view controls. This is all very straightforward but too long to go into any detail here. Go to Zoom Support for help and guidance.

Best advice – Zoom is designed for human communication and hence it dynamically suppresses any background noise such as cats screeching or dogs barking. Unfortunately,  the sound of your guitar is a cat or dog in this scenario! This is no reflection on your playing! To alleviate this problem you’ll need another piece of gear – see bullet 4 below.

  1. Joining and attending a session

The lesson organiser should invite you by email which contains a zoom link. Simply click on the link to join. If you’re early you’ll be put into a virtual Waiting Room. Try to join with your mic muted and your video enabled unless advised otherwise in the email.

The email invitation should spell out all of this including how to ask questions, what to do if there is a Zoom/internet issue (very rare but it has happened), joining with a recognisable name (e.g. Mike G and not ‘Dad’s iPad’).

Before you join, make sure you have any lesson PDFs printed off or available on another device and don’t forget a pen and paper!

In a well organised online lesson you should expect:

  • the tutor to be very happy to take any relevant questions during the teaching, and
  • a formal Q&A wrap-up to allow time for the group to collate their questions.

Best advice – join early and test everything beforehand (and print things off as well).

  1. More advanced set-up

If you want to be able to play in a session and get a tutor’s direct feedback your set-up requires an audio interface. Without this device your voice and guitar sound goes through your mic and is dealt with badly by Zoom – see earlier comments about cats and dogs! This device sits between you and your guitar and your laptop. The inputs from your mic and guitar plug into it and then it connects to the laptop via USB. It acts as an interface to your laptop/internet. This is a huge subject on its own.

By way of example is to try a Scarlett Focusrite audio interface. Good value and easy and quick to set up and configure. There are lots out there at varying prices; your choice. Go to  Scarlett Focusrite to get started.

Best advice – check out the Zoom app audio settings and enable ‘original sound’. As the function name hints it helps to stop you sounding like you’re chatting with Neil Armstrong back in 1969 in very far away location!

So, if the above is what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Guitar Weekends we run live, group online sessions with top professionals and provide excellent pre-, in- and post-lesson materials (TABs, accompanying videos, practice loop tracks and useful supplementary reference sheets).

Come and join us – check out our What’s On page to find out about our scheduled courses.