Teaching Music Lessons Over Skype

If you are interested in teaching music lessons over Skype, I recommend reading another article on this website:

7 Easy Steps to Teaching Music Lessons Online by Lisa Brown

This article is a very thorough and a helpful how-to for those interested in teaching lessons over Skype.

Skype, the software that allows users to make phone calls over the internet, recently celebrated its 5th anniversary as a company. There are many people that feel the Skype is a superior alternative to cell phones, especially with the increasingly ubiguitous use of webcam video.

But what about teaching lessons over Skype?

Here are two musicians that are making it happen.  Tim Price, a NYC saxophonist who has taught with the New School and Long Island University, and Mark Miller, a Chicagoland pianist with students in England, Oregon, Sweden and more.

Watch this Fox New Chicago feature on Mark Miller (link to Quicktime Movie).

Personally, I took 4 months of composition lessons over the phone this past year.  I had started with a new teacher in NYC and when a gig in Hawaii called, I took the gig and continued lessons over the phone.  For me, I felt the lessons were less efficient over the phone and plagued by technically difficulties and eventually I discontinued them.

Yet, while these lessons were a little awkward, I can see a new market for music teachers that will continue to grow.  The obstacles that we would have to overcome to make the distance-learning experience work for musicians are the limitations of the technology involved.  The satellite delay of most cell phones makes fluid conversation awkward and the poor transmission of sound makes listening to music over the phone nearly impossible.  In my own case, the unreliability of internet made file-sharing difficult.

But if it were possible to fix these three complications – digital delay, sound quality, and accessibility – the fundamentals of a successful long-distance music studio (somebody will eventually coin the term eStudio no doubt) are possible.  Most computers come stock with webcams and these days.  There are many digital-conference software packages available that streamline file-sharing for telecommuting corporatations.

This is another example of the new opportunities available to modern musicians.  As the technology grows and makes the digital music lesson more efficient, I suspect some large corporation will make a lot of money off internet music lessons.

Published by

David J. Hahn

David J. Hahn

David J. Hahn (@davidjhahn) is the co-founder of MusicianWages.com and a former Broadway conductor. He grew up near Chicago, lived in New York City, and settled in California. In 2012, he left the music business to found California Surfcraft, a San Francisco-based start-up that makes high-performance surf gear out of fiberglass-reinforced cork. He is the inventor of the Bodypo®, a sustainable alternative to the traditional bodyboard. He is a cancer survivor, an advocate for unlikely career paths, and, beginning in spring of 2015, a father.

47 thoughts on “Teaching Music Lessons Over Skype”

  1. There’s a good chance I’ll be using it for rehearsals and writing sessions. Seems like a great alternative to long rides on the subway… as if musicians need another reason for in-laws to call us lazy.

  2. I think that the technology will eventually make this communication method effective, although I can’t see it replacing a ‘live’ lesson. Having someone in the room with you has a completely different feel and dynamic, which ultimately affects the productivity of a student.

  3. I’ve been taking music lessons over Skype for a couple of months now and overall, it’s been successful. There are occasional lags, but the quality of the webcam seems to make a big difference. It’s not the same as being in the same room with someone, but it allows you the opportunity to study with people you would not otherwise be able to.

    1. Moving to Bulgaria…do you know how to play a bandura…Ukrainian harp pl? I have just retired and want to learn how to play mine…. It has 61 strings (inc12 bass strings) and 7 levers..it is described as a ‘Concert’ style instrument. Maybe you could put me in touch with a bandurist. The only guy I know who plays one lives over 100 miles north of me…too far to travel and as a pianist/teacher has no time for me.Skpe.

  4. I teach general music in a charter school of 195 students in the Florida Keys. There are very few private music instructors in this area. When students leave our pre-K through 8th grade school to go to the local high school they need to know how to play an instrument in order to join the band. (Students in the public elementary/middle school learn instrumental music in school.) i want my students to be able to be in the high school band and I had the idea to have music instructors teach instrumental lessons to my students over Skype. Does anyone have comments or suggestions concerning my plan? Appreciate it.

  5. I am a community tv producer with a substantial presence in facebook friends with regional music persformers and music fans. I would appreciate hearing from music teachers who are successfully using SKYPE to offer music lessons to their students, be it widely spread internationally or in a regionalor community setting. My fb friends are now over 2300, growing still. I also have a fb group called Heritage Music Circle (HMC) that just passed 625 fb friends who have signed up. we have been discussing SKYPE a bit. like to exchange more in future.

    1. I have begun teaching skype lessons and can see the potential for this is great! I have a student in Malaysia. The technology is almost perfect but it can be worked with. Let me know if you need anything. I’ll look you up on fb.

      1. Hi! I have begun teaching music via Skpye, and it’s been going well, so I would like to continue working this way. My principal areas are: piano/voice/musical theatre/composition/theory. Would like to expand my

  6. I seem to see that on Skype when one plays …or talks, the other doesnt That is to say the sound is not simultaneous.
    Is that right?
    Earphones seem to help a bit but not completely solve the problem.
    I have a Mac…also wonder if it may have to do with the quality of the internet connection??

    Thanks everyone

    1. Hi Dan –

      That was my experience as well. There doesn’t seem to be any way around that lag. It making playing together impossible during a skype lesson, but it doesn’t count out student and teacher playing one at a time.

  7. Sorry in advance for the loooong comment, but I want offer some ideas to those of you considering this option.

    I added the Skype lessons option to my violin and viola teaching studio in June 2009 and overall have been very pleased with the experience. I’ve been able to offer lessons to students in the US and internationally who otherwise may not have had the option. Also, when my in-person students wouldn’t otherwise have been able to make their lessons we’ve done them over Skype instead.

    For those of you who want to market to the Skype lessons crowd, in my experience so far, people looking for Skype violin or viola lessons have one or more of the following in common: are in the military, live in a remote area, live in an area with limited teachers on the chosen instrument, want the option of a teacher other then the local choices for whatever reason, frequently travel, have listened to my podcast, read my articles, and/or have heard my recordings and like my approach, is an adult student living in an area that lacks teachers open to teaching adults.

    I personally haven’t had any trouble with lag, but I have a VERY fast internet connection (my boyfriend is a software architect who couldn’t settle for any less – I am very grateful to take advantage of this!). If you are having problems, this is probably contributing, as well as the time of day (Skype traffic), and country/areas you’re calling between – Asia and Australia are usually quite clear for me, both audio and video, while calls within the US have sometimes been choppy… go figure. If you want to teach over Skype I suggest you offer a trial run with prospective students to check the quality.

    I run Skype for Mac and unfortunately it does not offer duplex sound at this point (the ability to hear on both ends at the same time like a telephone). I’ve even contacted Skype about it – they said this will hopefully be possible sometime… Apparently Skype for Windows does offer duplex sound. I’ve considered installing Parallels on my Mac and using Windows Skype with Windows students but haven’t gotten there yet. Instead we play call and response to check intonation, rhythm, etc. and I record and send them MP3s of pieces I want them to practice along with. Can be some work at first but now I have a little library of pieces I can keep using for students.

    Like all my students, I have Skype students sign a contract so we’re all on the same page and for payment, students have either sent checks before the first lesson or used PayPal. Pretty easy.

    I think the best Skype music teachers would be those who are patient, creative, can think on their feet, and are methodical. They speak clearly and concisely and have no trouble altering their approach and/or the wording they are offering the student if the student is unclear about the information. They know their “right” from their “left” so they can quickly maneuver the student into a better position to see something the student is doing, and likewise, frequently adjust their own positioning so the student can see them better for a particular technique.

    Hope this helps. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Not an expert here, but happy to share my experiences and troubleshoot with you. Skype music teachers unite!

    1. Thanks for the useful Skype info. HOW fast is your VERY fast internet connection? I’m using 10 megabytes and perhaps it is too slow. Do you also use an option favored by “gamers” to get faster entry into international internet sites? Also, can you suggest a good webcam camera that has a wide enough angle lens and perhaps also a zoom to focus on the keyboard. Many thanks for suggestions from any Skype experimenters.

      1. I agree Laurel. I have had success with it so far and am looking forward to more teaching and some advances in the technology. There is a new website called Acenote.com that looks promising.

  8. Hi everyone, thanks for this cool info. Does any one have info about how to use a Mac w Skype for music lessons? I have lap top-OS10.5.8. I’ve heard to be sure to open firewalls and to plug the machine into modem/router w cable for fastest reception. I have an RCA modem w Time Warner High Speed service. This said, the two jazz guitar lessons I tried teaching on skype had all kinds of video and audio problems. The most recent student had a nice camera and PC, his sound and image were clear, but my i-sight and image kept faltering. Anyone have and :nuts and bolts” advice for a beginner at this stuff?

  9. Hi Everyone –
    I have given clarinet lessons via Skype (from Boston, USA to China) and it worked well. One of my students was going to China for the summer and wanted to continue lessons with me- so we gave it a try and it worked very well. For the most part, we didn’t have any trouble with Skype traffic. If there was some delay, one of us would turn off our camera, and that helped. A good thing about it is that both the teacher and student have to slow down and really listen to each other. I was very pleased with it and would gladly do it again.

  10. I am researching the viability of giving guitar lessons via Skype, or gotomeetings. I would like to hear of anyone who would take a short survey on this subject. I have been playing for 50 years, and still perform regularly. My specialities are improvisation, composition, and theory. My style is quite unique and I would like to help others find their own unique styles.

  11. Does anyone have any tips as to how to market “elessons”? I am a drummer and I am very interested in expanding my student base via skype, however I have no idea how to go about getting students.
    Suggestions??? Anyone interested?


  12. I am curious about the range of prices and the length of Skype lessons. I know that some people are unwilling to discuss this, but I’m hoping others might share!

  13. ZipLesson.com provides students and teachers with instant access to each other for online Skype lessons. It’s free to sign-up, and students only pay their teacher’s lesson fee.

    Stop by today to see all the great teachers we have that are teaching over Skype today!

  14. I think with technology advancing as it is, it will only improve the quality of these lessons. When I speak with someone on Skype, it’s still not perfect, but I can imagine it would be fine for learning an instrument.

  15. I am developing a brand new online platform connecting music teachers with students interested in lessons over skype.

    My team and I believe the online teaching revolution will become very popular soon and we want to help teachers find students.

    If you are interested in joining the community and finding students then please register your interest at the link in my signature.

    Luke Grana

  16. i like to take music lessons through skype but i dont know what is the formality please explained about it

    1. You find a teacher’s website or do a websearch for ‘skype violin lessons’ or similar.

      All you need is a microphone, speakers and webcam – included in modern laptops – and the free software from skype.com. If you want violin lessons, click on my name – actually, do that anyway and go to ‘how it works’.

      The contract is established with the teacher like for regular classes, and you pay with paypal or transfers.

  17. I haven’t had any real problems using skype for vocal lessons at all. Very occasionally the screen can freeze but I still have the sound and the picture come back quickly enough. However all my students are all UK based, as am I, so this may help? I also have a fast internet connection and processor which I believe also helps. Sometimes I also plug directly into the internet if it is running particularly slower than usual. I think from the tutors point of view it’s all about being prepared. Being prepared on what you are going to teach when you get to know your student’s limitations, sending MP3’s they need to sing along too is paramount, as playing a keyboard or MP3’s from your end is impossible with the time delay! I hope this helps!

  18. I am a professional drummer and percussionist.I have been in the line for more than 30 years.I have specialised in all indian percussion and also world percussion and jazz drums.i want to teach on skype but do not know how to advertise and build contacts.please help.

  19. If you’re experiencing a slow connection while on Skype with some choppy screen freezes try doing some of this tips. Close down any other programs that you’re not using this includes browser connections, disable your antivirus or spyware during the Skype call and re enable afterwards sometimes also disconnecting any USB or other peripherals can help.
    Some of the more popular instruments that seem to be catching on are the drums and guitar tutoring. I have experience in offering these items if you need any help let me know?


    1. hello Gigsido: I have a question about giving skype lessons.I have many years of experience in giving ”
      traditional” music lessons for Voice and or guitar.My question is what is a “practical or realistic” price range for a beginner- teacher on skype. Thank you for any advice.
      Albert Sotelo

  20. I’ve been using skype to teach guitar lessons since 2006, when skype was only a baby. I’ve taught in over 35 states, and 5 countries. It was very interesting to read all the feedback on this forum.

    Youtube is my main source of advertisement, and niche marketing is key to selling yourself and bringing in new clients.

  21. You are truly a good webmaster. The site loading pace is amazing. It seems that you’re doing any unique trick. Also, The contents are masterpiece. you have done a excellent process on this subject!

  22. Hi,

    I am teaching Hindustani vocal to interested people through Skype as well as home tuition.

    please contact:

    Mob: 7259171623
    Place: Bangalore

  23. I’m teaching violin, viola and piano to children and adults (beginners, dabblers and returners mainly). Just starting to use Skype from here in Britain. Click on my name for details!

  24. Hi
    I would like to know for my friend , what would be the necessary steps to take if she wants to teach via skype? She has a Doctoral and is very good? What about marketing and advertising also?

  25. I’ve been giving Skype drum lessons for a while. It’s amazing you soon forget about the camera. Lately I’ve been using Google Hangout ascvwell. About 6 of us will get together with practice pads and work on our drum rudiments.
    It’s been great fun and it’s great to see everyone progressing together.

  26. Hi. I have two questions regarding payments.
    1- How you suggest getting paid in teaching online?
    2- Do you use something like GDP index to balance your fees across different Countries , or you charge a fix to anyone student,that seems right to your living place?

  27. I have been a guitar teacher for over 36 years. With the introduction of Skype, this has opened a whole exciting way for us as guitar teachers to reach out to the masses.

  28. hi. im 62 w/male. tring to retire ? iv played guitar for about 48 years on and off. thinking about doing this skype cam teaching. i teach now locally on weekends but would love to make more money. teaching around the world. i have a lap top with a cam in it. but having trouble figureing out how to do teach using skype.? can you give me any help. fellow guitar player and teacher?
    thank you, Jimmy Kunz

  29. You could live in an apartment building where there are
    people living above and below you. Another advantageous thing about kids drums sets these days is that
    while the quality has gone up, the prices have remained sensible.
    You might have wondered what that little piece of tape did.

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