Why Start Learning Guitar Online? Why Teach it?

Why get involved now with musicians learning guitar online after so many years of successful “live” teaching? Why now decide to learn guitar online?

So long story short… As a serial global events and political news junkie I awoke one March morning with the frightening news of what was likely coming soon.

The reality of the novel corona (now covid 19) train coming down that track (that we are all lashed to) struck home pretty dramatically for me like I am sure it did for all of us. High risk loved ones, general financial/employment/self-employment concerns, a world of the complete unknowns and variable factors. 

After the freaking out stage the survivalist and the mother hen instinct began to kick in to boil down what we can and can’t control.  By the time my little worry attack subsided I had already done some research on everything from the hare-brained to the most sublime of survival plans. 

Then something that should have been pretty obvious happened. Before any official language of proclamation to quarantine surfaced, I’d received a notable amount of queries from new and existing players asking about learning guitar online.  So, by the time the inevitable lock down (here in the UK) started I had plotted and piloted my first few experiments with my consenting guinea pigs and my learning guitar online programme began.  

I hope some of what I and my (human) students have learned may be of use to those students and teachers who are at earlier stages of the learning curve.

The most important thing of course being:

 If we can stay at home to work, to learn, to care for someone or just because we can stay at home we should. These days even though we have to apply physical distancing. We can still much of the time use modern technology to maintain at least some vesion of social interaction. 

There is a vast amount of free resources (lots of cool guitar stuff including this site) on the internet. We can use the technology to help us get through this trying time. 

Stay home, stay safe, stay well and keep others well in the process. Let's do our best that we can to get through this. We here at PG.com wish all of you all the best.

Happy playing from PlayableGuitar.com

The Required Internet Connection and Technical Specifications for Learning Guitar Online

My research has shown that if you want to get into learning guitar online will need AT LEAST a 1 Mbs download speed and a 0.5Mbs upload speed.

My experience has found this to be quite optimistic. Although before lockdown I got away with not much better in my studio. It did have its’ frustrating moments however. 

Readings fluctuated but things seem to work pretty well the closer to 10MB download and 1+Mbs Upload.

You can easily check your speed at Google”s speed checker page

 Internet Speed Checker

A WiFi hotspot device served me better with things running pretty smoothly at around the 20Mbs mark give or take and the Upload weighing in at 6+Mbs.

That has become my rule of thumb 20+ Mbs Up is pretty stable for learning guitar online in live streaming lessons.

Once you get a happy Download figure my random sampling shows that the corresponding Upload reading tends to fall into 10-50% of the download number.   

The best answer is a direct ethernet hard wire connection but a strong home router wifi signal to your device should work well enough (depending on your supplier and how many gamers and teenagers in the family) My BT line (British Telecom here in the United Kingdom) at the house I’m now in is at last check, just as I now write: 69.6mbs Down and 17.9 Mbs Up. That wil of course come up slightly different every time I run the speed test.

 You can easily check your speed at Google”s speed checker page

 Internet Speed Checker

Hardware Needed for Learning Guitar Online

There is a lot that can be discussed about the hardware needed for learning guitar online with live streaming, conferencing style communication. The simplest approach is that if you have the connectivity part up and running just use whatever device(s) and instruments that you have. You can adjust as you go along. In general the bigger the screens used by both teacher and student the better. There are always work arounds though!

I have students who use their mobile phones and iPads/tablets. In fact, at one point the system audio failed during a lesson so we used a students' wife’s  mobile phone and my (old iPhone 3!) phone as the audio connection and my laptop screen and the student’s phone screen as the visual connection. It worked well enough and the lesson was successful, the student was happy and I learned a lot.

Some items that can make things easier are a desktop computer or a laptop, external camera/mic with tripod or clip, an iPad or laptop holder or robust music stand, simple portable lighting, an external sound source other than your built-in device audio, headphones (helpful but not essential) and of course the right space with backdrop/background without too much back lighting that can obscure your image.

Your teacher should be able to advise you on the minimum you stuff you need to get sorted. Remember if you are doing this for a child, even if they are pretty tech savy, you as parent or guardian need to ensure all the tech specs and hardware needs are met. We all must follow the ethical practices of safe guarding and child protection when involving under age or vulnerable people with online activity.  

Platforms for Learning Guitar Online

Once you make the decision to go for real time learning guitar online as opposed to subscription content services you will need to have a vehicle to connect with your teacher. To me there is no "best way" of doing this. Again the simplest approach is to... well, keep it simple. If you use Face Time and so does your teacher voila! ..same with Google hangoutsMicrosoft Team is the preferred (well, mandatory) governmental platform in my local county area here in the UK. One of the most popular solutions I've come across is Skype. You just down load it and add your teacher (or teacher adds you) as a contact and away you go. Another Skype benefit is its' ability to disable "automatic mic adjust" setting which I have not found on Teams yet,  Zoom which also has a basic control of audio signal is another popular platform but it requires a little (tiny really) bit more of a learning curve. I suggest Skype or Zoom as a starting point with whichever one you didn't choose being a back up for that rainy day. 

N.B. (Autumn 2020)

My update on the platforms issue is this:

All connectivity methods have limits. Proprietary politics also play a role in compatibility. Platforms such as MS Teams (the worst) and Zoom that are designed to cater for complicated corporate (and educational) interdepartmental communications and events management can create confusion and instability. They work fine IF EVERYONE involved has a idea of the "ad ins", permissions, unused functions and where the bugs and potential confusions may exist.

Personally I find that direct connection like Skype is much more efficient for teachers like me who don't want to have a back office and a secretary of IT communications just to make last minute and quick time table alterations!! 

Other Considerations

If you are used to live face to face lessons you may have to get used to the virtual learning environment for awhile before feeling 100% comfortable in it.

Possibly the biggest thing (other than going small and two dimensional!) is the latency issue. This just means there is a lag time between when someone does something and when the other person sees and hears it. The real punch line here is that playing together is not really possible in a satisfying way. 

Learning guitar online or learning any kinaesthetic activity in a real time "virtual learning environment" may not be for everyone. There are ways around it but that is your teacher's problem. 

There are also still online courses, subscription sites and of course YouTube and free sites like this one...(feel free to like subscribe share link in yada yada....)  


Finally there is the subject of payment. PayPal is probably the most popular and simplest way dealing with this.

Saying that your teacher will no doubt have a method that works easily enough if not by Paypal such as online bank transfer. Obviously the amount and timing of payment is down to whom ever you are working with.

My Online Guitar Lessons

If you are interested in learning guitar online with me you can contact me directly from any link at the bottom of most pages on this website and we can have a virtual chat by email or connect by voice or video call. 

Contact me directly       back to top

If you are local to the United Kingdom West Midlands Coventry Kenilworth Leamington Warwick Rugby Stoneleigh  CV8 Post Code area and are interested in tuition feel free to arrange a “First session Free” Guitar or Theory Lesson. Perhaps you just want to *chat over a cuppa about the options for your children’s music education.

*N.B. Until further notice all interaction will be virtual or in full observation of distancing practices.

Playable Guitar 

Rural Innovation Centre Unit 32 Avenue H 

Stonleigh Park CV8 2LG   +44 2476 998 500

International? Please contact me about Skype lessons. Se habla español – pues bueno un pocito! 

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Happy playing!

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