Music Education Research

July 2, 2010

Online Music Lessons

Filed under: Technology Based Music Instruction — Rick Dammers @ 10:35 am

Orman, E. K. and Whitaker, J. A. (2010). Time usage during face-to-face and synchronous distance music lessons. American Journal of Distance Education, 24(2), 92-103.

This experimental study closely compares multiple aspects of applied instrumental music lessons in face-to-face and online lesson settings. Three middle school students (one saxophonist, two tubists) had lessons with a saxophone and tuba instructor respectively. Each student had a mix of face-to-face and online video lessons which were videotaped and coded for a variety of factors. When on-line lessons were compared to face to face lessons, there was a 28% increase in student playing, a 36% decrease in off-task comments by the instructor, a 28% decrease in teacher playing (modeling), and an increase in student eye contact. In the online lessons, less than 3% of the time was spent on technology issues, although audio and video quality concerns were mentioned.

I am personally interested in this study because I had conducted a similar qualitative study, which was published in 2009 in Update: Applications of Research in Music Education. The findings in both studies seem to be similar: that online applied lessons are functional and perhaps more efficient in some aspects, yet compression issues, particularly audio quality, remain a central concern. My personal conclusion is that this format is not yet ready to be a replacement for face-to-face lessons. Instead, I find this approach most exciting where it can be used to overcome issues of distance and create musical interactions where none were possible before.

Create a free website or blog at