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What's The Difference Between a Real Teacher & Pre-Recorded Lessons?

There are many excellent piano teaching programs on line today. Because of technology, experienced piano instructors are able to put together pre-recorded lessons. The options are endless, and you can try some out at your leisure.

Do you wonder if it's better to go this route or find a one-on-one piano teacher?

In this article you'll learn the difference between having a "real" i.e. one-one-one teacher and learning from recorded lessons in an online piano instruction program.

You'll also learn the difference between online lessons and in-person lessons with a one-on-one piano teacher.

Are One-on-one Online Lessons a Fad or a Passing Phase?

Years ago, my father sent me a newspaper article about a city piano teacher who gave online lessons to students who lived in rural areas. This seemed like a very unique situation, and I didn't give it much more thought. A few years later, a guitar teacher friend of mine had an in-person student who moved back to China. He told me how he as able to continue these lessons on-line with Skype. When my friend showed me how he did it, I didn't see how it could work for piano lessons due to the sound, screen freezes and time delays.

What Are Pre-Recorded Online Lessons?

Given the connection issues in the early years of online lessons, some teachers began creating pre-recorded tutorials and courses that covered a variety of musical techniques, styles and songs. These were originally available on DVDs. However, now that we are in the era of streaming, pre-recorded lessons, "how-to" videos and various music courses are available at the click of a mouse. Your job as the student is to imitate what you see and hear.

Several years ago, I had an adult student in his late 20s who had learned several songs by watching online videos. After doing this for several months, he realized that he needed something more. He wanted to learn to play the piano. By that I mean that he wanted a teacher who would teach him music i.e. go beyond the notes on the page. As I do with all of my piano students, I would gear the type and level of material specifically to his ability and interests, would provide correction, encouragement and accountability and expand his knowledge of music so that he'd be able to grow continuously as a pianist for his entire life.

What Was a Positive Outcome of the Pandemic?

When news of the pandemic broke in March of 2020, I thought it would be a simple matter of cleaning off the piano keys and using hand sanitizer. Boy, was I wrong? Within three days, I had to figure out how how to totally transform the in-person teaching of my piano students to teaching them online. As you might expect, after 41 years of giving lessons to adults and children, this was no easy task.

Because the only option for me was to quit or persevere, I offered my piano students to opportunity to continue their lessons online. Since they were enjoying their lessons with me (several of them had been studying with me for 5 to 10 years already) Without missing a beat, lessons continued.

Although it took a little while for me to work out the kinks and make some logistical changes (started using Zoom , switched to MacBook Pro laptop, added an overhead keyboard camera, wired (with ethernet cable) and improved my internet modem and rearranged both my home studio and 14 Main St Suite 10, Hudson, MA studio several times for optimal effectiveness), online lessons have continued to work successfully ever since.

Though the Pandemic was terrible, its propulsion of many businesses like mine into an online opportunity, turned out to be a dream come true for me and my students. Today, even students who can walk to my Studio in Hudson, MA continue their lessons online with me. It saves them time, especially when they are overbooked with other activities.

Are On-line One-on-One Lessons "Real" Piano Lessons?

First of all, I can watch and hear what my students play, because they position their webcams on their piano. After more than four decades of teaching, I am aware of what to watch and listen for over the computer as well as what I have done when they are playing the piano in my studio. Furthermore, each student has her own set of skills, musical tastes, knowledge and experience. Based on that, I teach them certain songs at the appropriate level and show them in a step-by-step way how to make their arrangements more interesting. Here's an example of how this works during a lesson on Zoom. After I go over the details of the arrangement that a student will practice and learn in the days after her lesson, I record the song with the student watching me play it and send the video to her after the lesson for additional review.

Online Lesson Example: My Demonstration of How High the Moon For an Adult Student


Want To See How Much You Can Learn from the Comfort of Your Own Home When You Take One-on-One Online Piano Lessons with Diana Mascari?


Diana Mascari has taught piano to hundreds of adults and children for more than 40 years. She holds two Masters of Music degrees from New England Conservatory and taught keyboard harmony to music majors while pursuing doctoral studies at Boston University. Her work as music director for a multi-cultural Presbyterian Church has continued for four decades, and her jazz and classical compositions have been performed worldwide. Diana has been performing for more than 50 years. From solo jazz piano (her first love) to commercial groups touring the East Coast to leading her own jazz ensembles at many colleges and jazz clubs throughout New England.


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