Do you dream of becoming the next Jimi Hendrix? Perhaps you can already play a few songs but would like to beef up your skills. Or maybe you've never even held a guitar and need to start from the beginning. No matter what your skill level, online guitar education is available, but those seeking a serious guitar education should be aware that their options are limited.
If you want to earn a guitar certificate, diploma, or degree online, there isn't much out there for you. Berklee College of Music does offer various levels of online guitar certificates. Students enrolled in one of Berklee's programs must have reliable Internet access, certain web-related software, and, of course, a guitar. Depending on the classes taken, students also need recording and editing software and may need additional equipment, such as an amp chord for recording.
Of course, the number one question for potential online guitar students is “can I really learn to play the guitar online?” Online students can't perform live for instructors and peers and get immediate feedback, but Rick Peckham, Assistant Chair of Berklee's Guitar Department, sees this as a motivator, instead of a disadvantage. “Online students have to learn the material to a greater depth than with live lessons,” says Peckham. “In Berklee Guitar Chords 101, each participant has to record examples that demonstrate 24 graded etudes. In the course, students need to overdub their performances onto prepared mp3s. Since the mp3s are posted on the course website, they know that I'll be listening – and so will the other students in the class. This often inspires higher level performance than the traditional group lesson format.”
If you just want to take a few guitar lessons online, there are many websites available to meet your needs. Most of these sites offer access to recorded lessons, interactive players, and other supporting materials for a set fee ranging from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars.
Online Guitar Schools
Following is a list of schools offering online programs and websites offering guitar lessons:
The cost of online guitar education varies significantly based on whether you are looking for a degree or certificate program or whether you just want to take a class or two. Individual online lessons are very affordable, but financial aid is not available so students will have to pay for these classes themselves.
Guitar certificates from Berklee range from $2,385 for a Specialist Certificate to $9,155 for a Master Certificate. Students cannot use federal financial aid for these programs, but there are still many resources available. Students may be able to find scholarships through search sites such as FastWeb. Private education loans, military benefits, employer tuition assistance, and payment plans are other good options.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of musicians is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014, but competition for these jobs will be stiff. Getting a job as a musician can be tough, but Peckham doesn't see online education as an added obstacle.
Peckham believes that “the idea of the 'global village' made possible by the Internet is still sinking in with people. Huge numbers of people are emailing, sending enclosures and building webpages, no matter where they live. But people are still moving to big cities to 'make connections.' Soon, people will see the benefits of doing what they need to do wherever they may live – you don't need to move to LA or New York to post a sound file for a client based in those industry hubs. Online education for musicians is about to explode in popularity, because it works and it's more reasonable financially.”
If you just want to learn a few songs to play around the campfire, there are many websites offering affordable, easily accessible guitar lessons. If you are searching for a more in-depth guitar education, there are just a few programs offering comprehensive instruction.