If you want to learn how to play music, you might be considering looking for a teacher. But you have the entire Internet at your disposal now! You don’t need to hire a music teacher and go to regular lessons in real life; you can learn in the virtual world, at your own pace from the comfort of your own home. Best of all, it often won’t cost you a thing! If you want to learn to play music online for free, we can help you.
With that said, not all music teachers – online or offline – are equal. There are several different types of instruction you can receive for learning music on the Internet. Some services have contrasting styles of teaching, while others specialize in specific topics or instruments. This guide will hopefully help you choose the best one for you. We’ve also got links to all of the services we mention, so you can get started with them right away!
Types of online “music teachers”
- A real person, teaching via live video chat – This is one of the best ways you can learn to play music online. You get roughly the same experience of an in-person lesson, but from the convenience of your own home.
- A real person, teaching with online courses and demonstrations – This is another great way to learn music on the Internet. You get the expertise of a teacher, but can go at your own pace. You can review concepts that you have difficulty with, as many times as you want, until you master them. And you won’t be taking up another person’s time in doing so!
- A web-based course module that you complete lesson-by-lesson – With an online course, you can learn and study music concepts whenever and wherever it’s convenient for you. You can also easily go back and review concepts you want to spend more time on.
- An app or software program that can detect sound and listen as you play through lessons – Apps and computer programs are great for learning music, because they often give you a more concrete way track your progress as learn. They also make learning much more fun and visual than traditional text-based courses. These resources are especially great if they have a way to detect sound, as this lets them listen to you play and then provide feedback based on your performance.
The 14 best online music teachers and music instruction programs
Real teachers, institutions, and video-teachers
Lessonface.com is a great website that helps connect students of music with qualified music instructors. You simply select the instrument you want to learn to play, and then find a teacher with an hourly rate you find acceptable. The teacher does lessons with you live, over Internet video chat, so you can interact with them almost as much as you could with an in-person lesson. You are sometimes matched with a teacher based on instrument and skill level, but in most cases, you’ll have multiple teachers to choose from.
Cost: varies based on teacher – typically $10-$90 per 30 minute lesson
Instruments: Vocal | Guitar | Piano | Strings | Percussion | Brass | Woodwind | and more
2. The Zoen
TheZoen.com is similar to Lessonface, as it teaches students over live Internet video feeds. With hundreds of teachers to choose from, you can find an expert on the instrument you want to learn from miles away… but learn from them in the comfort of your own home! You can easily see the price and description of each instructor before hiring them, and then book lessons based on when you’re mutually available.
Cost: ranges from $10-$100 per 30 minute lesson, depending on the instructor.
Instruments: Vocal | Guitar | Piano | Percussion | Strings | Brass | Woodwind | and more
3. Live Music Tutor
Live Music Tutor is another site that facilitates live video music lessons; it was also voted one of the top 101 education websites in 2017. It serves students of all ages, and even offers some lessons for music teachers to show to their entire classroom! It has extra resources as well, such as music-learning games, instructional videos, lesson summaries, and much more! It even has a free section of categorized lessons that offer instrument-specific tips and demonstrations from industry professionals!
Cost: children (3-12) – $25 per 30-minute lesson; beginner – $35 per 45-60 minute lesson; intermediate – $45 per 45-60 minute lesson; advanced – $60 per 45-60 minute lesson
Instruments: one of the largest selections, including all the standards (guitar, piano, violin, vocals) and some unique instruments such as pipa, organ, xylophone, steel guitar, and euphonium; also offers music theory lessons on history, song writing, arranging, and more!
LearnToPlayMusic.com is a great resource for learning to play music online. It sells e-books and print books, often with video accompaniments, that teach lessons for a variety of instruments. It also has a YouTube channel with free videos to help you learn various musical subjects. If you want to learn from lessons crafted by pro musicians, but would rather do so at your own pace, then this is the site for you.
Cost: $3.49-$29.95 per lesson
Instruments: Guitar | Piano | Percussion | Violin | Brass | Flute
5. Michael New’s “Rhaptapsody” YouTube channel
Some musicians now start their own YouTube channel in order to instruct viewers on how to play music. One great example of this is a YouTube channel called “Rhaptapsody,” which contains video music lessons taught by Michael New. He provides instructional videos on topics such as the critical parts to creating melody, music theory fundamentals, how rhythm works, how to write music, and more! And, of course, you can subscribe to his channel to get updates on when he posts new videos. That way, you can always keep learning as he keeps teaching!
Online courses, tutorials, and modules for learning music
Earmaster.com is a great resource with a thorough online course on music theory; as such, it’s a great starting point if you’re just beginning to learn music. There are dozens of topics to learn about, all taught via easy-to-navigate lessons. Simply choose any one topic you need to brush up on, or start from the beginning and learn everything about music theory. You can learn entirely at your own pace, but you won’t have the advantage of being able to contact a teacher if you’re having any difficulties. So if you’re a good self-learner, try this site out!
Cost: free, with the option to buy some useful paid services.
7. Berklee Shares
The Berklee Shares program is a great set of online music-learning resources, brought to you by the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. While some of their lessons are only available to actual students of the school, others can be taken free-of-charge by the public! You can get a quality education on a few musical topics, including guitar, music production, music business, songwriting, music theory, music for film & television, orchestration, and jazz. If you like what you find, you can also pay to officially enroll in certain students-only courses!
Cost: some sample courses are available for free, while others require money to enroll in.
8. Coursera online courses
Coursera.org is a great portal for taking online courses on a variety of topics. You can follow along with modules from leading education institutions around the world, at home, for free. Coursera has some courses available on the subject of music, including:
- Genres: Classical, Rock, Jazz, etc.
- Music Business Foundations
- Music Theory
- Music History
- Vocal Studies
- Music Production and Composition
- The Music of Popular Bands: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, etc.
Naturally, there’s much more to Coursera – over 100 courses to choose from in three languages! Coursera is free to use in many cases, often simply limiting what you receive at the end of a course if you don’t pay for it. That is, you can still take the course, but your assignments won’t be graded and you won’t receive credit for your work.
If you’re interested in learning about how to use Coursera, we have step-by-step tutorials that can teach you everything you need to know.
9. Alison online courses
Alison.com is a lot like Coursera, in that it offers free online courses for a variety of topics – including musical ones. However, when it comes to music studies, Alison has two great courses on music theory and lyric training. Alison.com is mostly free to use, has simple layouts for its courses, and shows you how long it will probably take you to complete a course before you begin. Plus, you can rate courses and see how others have rated them!
Cost: most courses are free, though some have fees (which are clearly stated at the beginning)
OneMinuteMusicLesson.com has a free library of short video lessons – usually 1 or 2 minutes long – on various topics of music theory. Best of all, each lesson has its main points summarized for you, below the video, for quick reference. It’s great if you like simple, easy-to-understand lessons without a lot of text and detail, or if you simply need to brush up on a topic.
You can also check out the free podcast here.
Sound-detection apps and programs
Claiming to be the world’s largest music educator, Yousician is one of the most popular apps for learning how to play music. It offers lessons for the guitar, bass, piano, or ukulele, and is full of interactive features. In-app games and activities help you hone your skills, and the sound detector function can listen as you play and give you instant feedback!
Cost: free to download and use the basic plan; premium lessons for an instrument (guitar, piano, bass, or ukulele) are $9.99 per month, per instrument; a premium lesson bundle for all four instruments is $14.99 per month.
Download it now: Windows/Mac/Linux | Android | iOS
Another app similar to Yousician is Uberchord, which listens to you as you play your instrument and gives you real-time feedback. It also gives you detailed statistics on your progress, and automatically adapts to your own personal skill level. So as you get better, the app’s lessons will get more and more challenging. Uberchord also has an amazing “interactive strumming trainer,” which can help you get your rhythm spot on!
Cost: free to download and use, but accessing lessons on how to play popular songs costs money.
Download it now: iOS
13. Music Tutor
The Music Tutor sight-reading app, brought to you by JSplash Studios, helps improve your sight-reading skills. This is really useful if you want to work on learning to read sheet music so that you can play along. You can practice reading the bass or treble clef (or both) in sessions of 1, 5, or 10 minutes. You can try to beat your high score for each lesson, and then go back and review what you need to correct at the end of each lesson.
The Jamstar app only has lessons on how to play the guitar, but goes into incredible depth. It includes a library of popular songs in a variety of genres, and you can check your progress for learning any one of them. Jamstar also detects sound, which means it can let you know how accurately you’re playing a song as you play it. Each song also has individual tips that can help you learn better! Jamstar is similar to the popular video game “Guitar Hero,” so if you have good hand-eye coordination, this app could be very helpful in learning to play guitar!
Cost: free to download and use; some premium songs cost money to purchase lessons for them.
Download it now: Android
We hope that this guide helps you on your way to finding the perfect online music teacher for you. If you’re interested in starting at the beginning, check out our article on the best online resources for getting the basics of music theory down!