If you’re curious about playing bass but can’t find a teacher in your area, online bass guitar lessons may be right for you. Video-chatting technology like Skype and Google Hangouts make it easy to connect with a teacher and start making music from your own home.
You may be wondering what to expect from online lessons, whether you’ll be able to hear or see your teacher, or how you’ll get feedback on your playing. I’ll walk you through how online bass guitar lessons work, whether they are right for you, and what to expect from your first lesson.
Why Should You Consider Online Bass Guitar Lessons?
They’re convenient. You won’t need to travel to your teacher’s studio or schlep your bass and gear in your bluesmobile or on public transportation…in the rain! It saves you money and hassles and time.
Take lessons anywhere. All you need is a computer or tablet, an Internet connection, and your instrument! Just make sure that you choose a room or location that’s quiet and has good lighting. And if you want to continue your lessons while on vacation, you can! They’re affordable. Online bass guitar lessons are often slightly cheaper than in-person lessons. This is mostly because you won’t receive the same kind of physical feedback or adjustments as with in-person lessons.
Are Online Lessons Right For You?
Because the tones produced by a bass guitar are lower than other instruments it’s especially important that your computer or tablet has a good quality microphone with a wider frequency response. And taking for granted that you are not going “direct” into a digital audio interface, if you don’t play an acoustic bass guitar you’ll need to play live out of your bass amp. You will likely need to turn the volume up a little louder than normal to make sure your teacher can hear you well, but this can also raise the ire of you neighbors…or someone closer to home!
If you have a slower internet connection you may experience problems like dropped calls and video or sound lagging or freezing. Most video-chat issues are easily fixed by restarting the call, but slow connections can make this happen more regularly than you’d like.
Lastly, online bass guitar lessons are great for independent students. You should feel comfortable following directions, making small changes in your hands, body, and posture, and be able to ask questions about anything that may be confusing.
How Do Online Bass Guitar Lessons Work?
After you sign up for online bass guitar lessons, make sure that you add your teacher to your contact list. Most online teachers will use Skype or Google Hangouts, free video-chatting software for computers or tablets. Talk to your teacher to find out more about what best practices are. Make sure there’s enough room in front of your computer or tablet for your chair, yourself and your bass, and your amp. An armless chair or stool is best for playing comfortably. You should also be able to reach your amp easily in case your teacher asks you to make adjustments to your sound so you can be heard more easily.
Once you’ve started your lesson I recommend always double-checking the video you’re sending (the smaller screen or video) to make sure that your teacher can see both your left and right hand. Because bass guitars are often bigger instruments, you may want to scoot back to get everything in the picture. Ask your teacher if he or she can see enough of your playing!
The exact format of your online bass guitar lessons will vary based on your teacher and your musical goals, but rest assured that you and your teacher will still be able to hear and see each other, just like in an in-person lesson!
Your teacher can help you tune your bass at the beginning if you don’t already know how to tune. I often play with my student at the same time, either on my bass or guitar, though I sometimes do ask students to play by themselves so I can focus on what they’re playing.
There are many different ways for you to get and study your learning materials online, too. Screen sharing lets your teacher show you music, charts, or other materials that they have open on their own computer. Your teacher can also email you files or links to review or recommend books or sheet music for you to purchase. Some of my students like to print out their materials, while others open their files on the computer and practice in front of their screen. It’s up to you!
Online bass guitar lessons are an affordable and convenient way to become a better bass guitar player. Your teacher will walk you through the best way to set up in front of your screen, help you choose your volume and amp settings, demonstrate new techniques, and possibly play along with you. You’ll learn new musical concepts, study your favorite songs, and become a video chatting pro with much better bass playing skills.
Good luck with your bass playing.