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If learning an instrument has been on your list for months, years, even decades, right now is an ideal time to dust off that guitar, keyboard, flute, violin, or ukulele and sign up for online lessons.
No more carrying your instrument to a music store, school or an instructor’s house. These classes let you learn right from home, and provide complete coverage from the basics on up. If you’re a beginner, that’s fine too, as the courses are all taught by passionate professional musicians, and designed with increasing difficulty levels to ease you in at your own pace.
But just because the lessons are pre-recorded and the instructors aren’t physically there with you doesn’t mean they won’t be available. Most are incredibly responsive and are always there to answer questions and provide help when you need it. Other students can also help out too, with peer-reviewed assignments and online community discussions.
You’ll learn the essentials, like chords, scales and proper technique, but work your way up to being able to improvise and develop your own style too. These aren’t just for people starting out either. If you’re already an intermediate or master player, there’s plenty of new areas to expand into, including learning lesser-known genres, and even playing in the nuanced style of specific famous songs and albums from established artists. Best of all, lots of these courses are free, and plenty are affordable for beginners, sometimes even offering you free range of the entire site for a monthly fee.
All it takes is a few weeks of devoted practice to see noticeable improvement in any instrument. A class subscription can also be a life-changing gift for someone at any age. And once you’ve mastered your instrument, these sites provide a whole new opportunity; where you can now become the teacher, and design your own course for those ready to take the same journey you did.
If an established and well-known instructor is what you’re after, MasterClass has a ton of top professionals from all sides of the music business. The list of celebrities who have prepared courses here is huge, including Alicia Keys, Santana, Danny Elfman, Itzhak Perlman, Tom Morello and DeadMau5. Guitar, ukulele, drums and vocals are easily accessible, but there are options for those looking to get into more behind-the-scenes production as well, including a producing and beatmaking course by Timbaland, film scoring by Hans Zimmer, as well as music curation and DJing with Questlove. You can sign up for MasterClass for $15 a month.
With 27,000 classes available (including 2,000 free ones), Skillshare is an enormous and endless source of online education for pretty much anything, but is also ideal for music and instruments. Classes are all designed and taught by real musicians, who also construct the curriculum and break down the steps to their craft. This is a great online platform to seek out, and share with, a community of likeminded others who are all at different levels of skill, but share the same passion for a common instrument or topic. And once you’ve got your first songs written, there are enough other classes to keep you going your entire career, such as digital production, reading music and increasing your streams on services like Spotify and SoundCloud. Starter packages begin at $99 per year.
Udemy is a huge resource to learn many subjects. If there’s an instrument you’re eager to play, even a less common one, it’s most likely on here. The classes range far beyond just piano, guitar or harmonica, stretching into music theory and song composition too, and each course is designed and presented by an industry professional. The courses get pretty niche, narrowing down to specific genres of music and styles of playing, which is great for those who already have their musical goals in mind. Starts from $11.99.
Whether you want to learn guitar or brush up on your music theory, Coursera has options from all over the world. The site started out offering Stanford classes online, and has since expanded exponentially. Learning an instrument is easy with multiple courses from schools like Berklee College of Music, Yale, NYU and options from the Universities of Melbourne, Hong Kong and Mexico. Beyond instruments, you can find courses on music production, music history and even one that focuses specifically on the songs of the Beatles. You can also earn credits toward your degree, if you’re already enrolled in a master’s program, and get the same credentials as on-campus students without ever leaving home. Prices vary.