Obviously things are a bit weird right now, but with all the restrictions come some good opportunities. Even as things start to open up, we're all spending more time at home than usual, so it's a really great time to learn guitar online. Having spent the last few months giving online lessons I can give you some idea of what your first few sessions will be like, what some of the drawbacks of online lessons are, but also what advantages they can have over in-person lessons!

1) Getting set up  If you're one of the eight people left in the country that doesn't have a Zoom account you should probably get one. Online guitar lessons can also be done by Skype and other services, but Zoom has some really useful features that have helped it become the music teacher's platform of choice recently. One of the best things about it is that you can join a meeting with multiple devices. So you could join a call with your laptop, but also use your phone to get some better camera angles for zooming (pun totally intended) in on certain aspects of your technique. In order to have an effective zoom session you're going to want to do a couple of things before you get started. 

  • Turn on 'original sound.' Zoom has a feature that, in any other scenario would be great. It picks up on constant noises like, fans, typing, traffic and so on and cancels them out. This is obviously pretty annoying for a guitar lesson because if you play for more than ten seconds Zoom recognises your guitar playing as a persistent background noise! To sort it, on the mobile version go to the Settings menu, and then Meeting Settings. On the desktop version it's under Audio Settings, then Advanced and then by disabling 'suppress persistent background noise' and 'suppress intermittent background noise.' 

  • Check your microphone and speaker levels. This one only really applies to desktop users as phones are pretty much built to do this sort of thing and manage the levels anyway. The first five to ten minutes of every first lesson with a new student is mostly about calibrating the audio. If you can get a head start on that you can get to the fun stuff so much quicker! To test your levels, host a new meeting, go down to the audio settings panel and select 'test speakers and microphone.' Zoom will play a ringtone and ask if you can hear it. It will then ask you to talk and play the sound back to you. This is the important one. Strum your guitar instead of talking, and listen to what it sounds like coming back. If it's too loud, turn your microphone down or move away from the computer. If it's too quiet try moving closer or consider purchasing a microphone or joining using your phone's audio instead. A lot of things can be worked around in a Zoom guitar lesson, but if your teacher can't hear your playing that's basically game over!