The web has utterly transformed from something that was at one time full of GeoCities websites. GIFs, starry backgrounds, and annoying tunes on loop, filled homemade web pages, and the internet lacked useful content.
However, things have changed rapidly. No longer is GeoCities even a thing, and the internet is now the go-to tool for many everyday tasks and queries. Need some groceries? Go to the internet. Need to hire a car? Go to the internet.
In fact, the last two years have shown just how much people are now relying on the net for answers to problems, for ecommerce, for entertainment even. It is chock-full of resources on practically any subject you could consider.
So, with this in mind, could the internet help in an area that traditionally involves live teachers? Could you learn a musical instrument through mobile and web apps alone?
Can you teach yourself to play a musical instrument at home?
Due to recent lockdowns, many people have taken to some form of home-schooling. It is essential to maintain a child’s progress. The last two years have been trying for many families in this regard.
English and mathematics have no doubt been covered by parents, but some areas have likely been skipped. One overlooked area could be musical education.
The University of Georgia reported on how important music is to a baby’s brain’s growth. This is just from listening. Playing an instrument can bring even more benefits to a child.
Whether you want your child to play an instrument, or want to learn yourself, you may presume you need a teacher. Not so. It is entirely possible to learn any instrument by yourself, and many famous musicians have done just that.
How do you stay encouraged without a teacher?
The biggest reason people fail to learn to play instruments properly is that they quit. Learning anything takes a certain amount of discipline, and you need to practice regularly.
With no set lessons and a teacher to monitor you, assess you, and push you, you could easily give up.
There are one or two ways that you can use to improve your prospects of success.
Firstly, choose an instrument that you will enjoy playing. If you have your heart set on the ukulele, then don’t buy a guitar because of somebody else’s opinion.
Secondly, choose songs you like. You will enjoy learning much more if you are playing the music you enjoy. Therefore, if you like Queen choose Bohemian Rhapsody chords to learn on your ukulele or guitar.
Could the internet help you to play an instrument?
The internet is packed with guidance for anyone looking to play an instrument. You will be able to find websites explaining how to understand music theory and notation.
There are some sites where professionals will offer lessons for a fee, but there are many tutorials online too.
You will find tutorials on YouTube for just about any instrument and genre of music you could think of. There are, though, many alternatives to YouTube, and you can find advice on forums or sites such as SoundCloud.
What apps are available for budding musicians?
One area that isn’t lacking for musicians is apps. There are both mobile and web-based apps just waiting for the next Santana or Billie Eilish to download.
Some of the varied and practical apps for musicians:
- Uke Like The Pros – Learn to play the ukulele
- Pro Metronome – Offers a useful metronome tool for all musicians
- Piano Maestro – Aimed towards teaching children the piano
- GarageBand – Highly popular DAW
- BIAS Amp – Design your own guitar amp
- Functional Ear Trainer – Short lessons to improve your musical ear
- Fret Trainer – Learn notes and chords for a variety of stringed instruments
- Bongos! Free – There are even apps for bongo players
Help isn’t just limited to mobile apps either. Some sites have a combo of web and mobile apps to help you to master your instrument faster.
Musical education sites such as Chordify will help a student learn chords for piano, guitar, and ukulele.
Others concentrate on different areas such as learning to play piano while reading digital sheet music.
Isn’t it better to use a music teacher?
Traditionally, it would be normal for children to receive some musical education at school, and then perhaps expand on this with a private teacher. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using professional music teachers.
However, some schools’ music programs are lacking. It may be that your child isn’t receiving the guidance they want, or maybe they just don’t enjoy being taught this way.
Then there is the cost of private lessons. Be The Budget recommends music tutors charge between $15 and $75 per 30 minutes lesson. Not everyone has the funds to take private lessons.
What may be a good compromise is to have just a few private lessons, to begin with. Then once you feel you are making some progress, continue at home alone.
Many famous musicians such as Paul McCartney started with a music teacher only to leave early on and teach themselves. And he wasn’t able to use the internet to help.
How long does it take to get comfortable with an instrument?
A question that is asked by every new student, and there is no straightforward answer. Every pupil learns at a different rate, and how much practice you put in will also be a factor.
Struggling to make progress is one of the reasons that people quit when trying to learn an instrument. They feel they have reached a certain level and will never get past it. Impatience can set in, especially if they have read that they should be at a certain level by a certain time.
Nevertheless, there are some basic guidelines you could consider. Some instruments are clearly easier to learn than others.
Without being too rigid, here is a rough guideline to how long some instruments will take to learn and play comfortably:
- Ukulele – 3 to 6 months
- Drums – 6 months to 2 years
- Guitar – 3 to 6 months
- Piano – 3 years
- Bongos – 2 months
- Harmonica – 3 to 6 months
- Violin – 3 years
It should be remembered that these are only rough lengths of time and will depend on factors such as age, concentration levels, and commitment.
It should also be remembered that you will never stop learning or improving. Reaching a competent level where you can play comfortably in front of others doesn’t mean you have reached your peak. There will be lessons to learn continually, and room for improvement.
For many people, apps for music mean Spotify or SoundCloud. While these are great for recreation, and there are many alternatives to Spotify to explore, there are plenty for musicians too.
For those who want to play music, and not just listen to it, there is a wealth of resources and help on the net.
Countless musicians, both amateur and professional, have learned one instrument or more by themselves. Kurt Cobain used a music teacher for just a few lessons before quitting.
With the apps available for mobile devices, and music education websites, it is easier than ever to learn a musical instrument at home.