The most common questions I get about teaching piano online are: how does it work? Can you learn as well as at in-person lessons? As a pianist who grew up taking in-person lessons, before online lessons were even possible, I was skeptical of the process. A few changes in my life allowed me to try it out.

The first change was moving to a rural setting in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. I grew up in the Greater Toronto Area, where there were many fantastic teachers, and students had a lot of options. Moving to rural Nova Scotia, I had moved into a town where several piano teachers just moved away, and not many were left. There were only a couple of teachers with a university-level education. There was not much opportunity for students to fall in love with music and study piano to an advanced level if they wanted. This made me realize that I want to be able to share music with people all over the world and not only the students in big cities. That’s when I decided to give online teaching a try. Here are 5 pros and cons that I have discovered in my process of exploring online teaching.

Pro #1: You can teach anyone in the whole world, assuming you both have solid internet. You will also both need a piano or keyboard, which you would need to learn piano anyway!

Con #1: You have to make sure that your tech set-up is working correctly before you start teaching. It requires a bit of experimentation. Once you’re ready, you can show your student how to set up easily. Make sure that you are aware of time zones when you make an appointment.

Pro #2: If there is a snow storm or other bad weather, no one has to go outside and/or drive!

Con #2: Hopefully the power doesn’t go out!

Pro #3: In flu season, or even worse, a health crisis like the coronavirus (COVID-19), you can stay indoors without worrying about catching a virus or infecting anyone around you. Unfortunately, piano keys can get quite germy, even when we clean them frequently.

Con #3: You won’t have the same face-to-face social interaction, although a solid internet connection, it can be pretty close.

Pro #4: For the student, your teacher is practically in your home with you, but you don’t have to pay a travel fee. Plus, you can skip the busy traffic! For the teacher, you don’t have to spend time travelling to the student’s home, and can teach many more students!

Con #4: Your teacher can’t physically touch your hands when correcting your technique, even though your teacher will be able to show you the same concepts via demonstrations. It depends on whether you have more of a visual or tactile learning style.

Pro #5: Your teacher will get to hear and see you playing your own instrument at home. I frequently have my in-person beginners students tell me, “It felt different on my piano. I’m not sure if there’s something wrong with my piano or my playing”.

Con #5: You won’t get to play my beautiful baby grand piano unless you visit me! Also, live playing is always superior, just like how going to a concert is more powerful experience than listening to a recording. But that also doesn’t mean that you can’t listen to a good recording and be extremely emotionally affected by the performance.

After teaching several online students, including a few children who have made exceptional progress, I am extremely positive about the potential of online learning and how we can use it to share music with more people in the world. In conclusion, if you find a teacher that you have a good connection with, and their teaching style works for you, definitely give online piano lessons a try!