5 Ways to Learn Music Online for Free

Published: August 2, 2017 - 9:00am EDT

Piano in a home

Learning music through online methods is something that is now more possible (and easier) than ever. This article is meant to be a great starting point for you when you want to start learning to play, read, or perform music – all on your own. When starting out, it’s important to know that there are many different ways you can go about learning music online, and it’s important to choose the right method for you.

Check out our lists of methods below with some examples of sites, videos, and other resources that can help you out. And then be sure to read our tips at the end for the things you need to know before you get started!

5 great methods for learning music online

1. Find an online music teacher for the instrument you’re interested in.

Having a private music teacher meet with you over the Internet and coach you is the closest you can get to meeting with a teacher in person. This option has both pros and cons; on the positive side, an online teacher is experienced and knows how to do exactly what you want to learn. They also allow you to ask questions as you learn so that you can get grasp the fundamentals during the lesson. This will help you when you keep practicing on your own outside of lessons.

On the other hand, online music teachers are notoriously difficult to find. They also don’t usually offer their services for free; some do, but you’re often limited to learning a specific instrument that they know. You’re also often forced to go by the teacher’s schedule, rather than being able to learn at your own pace.

Person playing the guitar

Some of the best sites you can use for finding a music teacher online are Lessonface, The Zoen, or LiveMusicTutor. All of them connect with you experienced music teachers over live Internet video chat – for a reasonable price.

This method is best for: When you need personal attention, and like to interact with your instructor.

2. Watch instructional videos and play along.

Instructional videos are a kind of compromise between hiring an online teacher and the comfort and convenience of teaching yourself. A video typically features a qualified teacher who breaks things down for you step-by-step. An advantage of this method is that, because videos are pre-recorded, you can pause, rewind, and re-watch things at your own pace. You can’t, however, ask the teacher a question during the video (unless they are doing a live lesson). There is the option, though, of sending them a message or commenting on their work to get additional help.

There are great videos on many different musical topics, including this one on how to use the circle of fifths in music. Many others can be found on YouTube and other video-sharing websites.

Screenshot from an instructional YouTube video on learning music

This method is best for: When you like learning at your own pace and going back over concepts you need to spend more time on.

3. Take a free online course or complete tutorials on topics that interest you.

There are many online courses like this one that cover various musical topics. You can learn about music theory, specific instruments, how to play specific songs, and more. The advantage of taking a course is that you can usually learn entirely at your own pace. You can review topics whenever you like, and work as slow or as fast as you want. In general, though you’re dealing with simple text and images, rather than a person actually showing you what to do on your instrument.

Music theory lesson

Another great course website to check out is Coursera, which has tons of music courses. And if you need a hand learning to use Coursera because you’re already busy trying to learn to play music, we can help you with step-by-step Coursera tutorials.

This method is best for: The learner who enjoys reading, working entirely at their own pace, and motivating themselves to self-learn.

4. Download a learning app and practice at home.

Music-learning apps are a great way to learn music from home on your smartphone or mobile device. Generally, they let you complete activities in a step-by-step fashion, tracking your achievements over time. Apps also allow you to go back and practice things you’ve already completed, so you can do them over and over again until you master them!

If you want to get started right away, we would suggest checking out Yousician (Download it now: Android | iOS)
or Uberchord (Download it now: iOS).

Jamstar music app

This method is best for: When you have a mix of learning styles, but are primarily a visual learner and want to learn at your own pace.

5. Read up on theory and then teach yourself!

Music theory is also a great starting point for teaching yourself music. Many people who focus on music theory lessons can actually teach themselves how to play any instrument – with no instructor! If you look for music theory lessons online (of which there are many), you should be able to understand the basics of music. From there, you can teach yourself how to play an instrument. You'll probably even get much better at it much faster, especially compared to those who don’t take the time to study music theory. Check out this great website for learning music theory, www.musictheory.net, to get started.

Lesson on music theory

This method is best for: When you want to spend the extra time to learn music theory in detail, and have the motivation to apply its principles to teaching yourself how to play an instrument later.

4 Important tips before starting to learn an instrument online

1. Choose which instrument you’re passionate about learning.

Even if you want to focus on music theory first, you need to think about what instrument you’re going to be interested in learning to play sooner or later. This will not only help you keep your goals firmly in mind, but also help you focus more on topics that are actually relevant to you as you learn. You don’t ultimately have to limit yourself to one instrument, but it’s much easier to begin with one instrument you’re really interested in and then pick another one up later on. Once you learn to play one instrument, the second one will be much easier!

2. Think about which method(s) will most help you, based on your learning style.

When choosing how to learn music online, you need to think about what type of learner you are. There are pros and cons to each of the many different methods we mentioned above, but you'll ultimately know how you learn best. Don’t be afraid to experiment, though! Just because you don’t succeed with trying to use an app to learn music, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn music at all. You may just need to try a new approach, like finding an online instructor to help.

3. Understand that learning online is much more of a challenge than hiring an instructor.

If you’re choosing to learn to play music online, you should remember that this is much more difficult than paying for in-person lessons. Without the guidance of a teacher who can fully analyze what you’re doing (watching your breathing, finger placement, force, tempo, etc.), it’s harder to identify your own mistakes or shortcomings. It also takes a little more discipline to learn online, as you don’t have regularly scheduled lessons that you’re paying for.

Don’t let this discourage you, though! You can always reach out to an experienced musician online for advice, or ask your friends and family to listen to you play and help you identify aspects of your craft that you need to work on. And remember, practice makes perfect!

4. Planning and mapping out your weekly commitment level and specific goals.

Writing in a planner

Before you begin, it’s important to set goals and have a thorough understanding of how you want to go about learning music (and, eventually, your instrument of choice). Think about how much time you can set aside each week to dedicate to your study. Ask yourself these questions when planning:

  • How many times per week can you practice?
  • How long can your practice sessions be?
  • When do you want to learn and perfect your first song?
  • How will you test your own knowledge and ability?
  • When will you feel ready to perform for others?

Once you’ve thought up the answers to these questions, you’ll be ready to set some firm goals. Consider writing out a checklist, or incorporating music study times into your planner. This will help keep you on track, especially if you’ve decided to teach yourself without the aid of an instructor.

 

It’s much harder to stay motivated when you don’t have someone monitoring you, so be sure you take these steps before you begin trying to learn music online. They'll make things a lot easier for you. Don’t give up, and keep looking for more resources like the ones we have on our website if you need some assistance!

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