Q: I am considering learning a musical instrument. What would be the benefits of having a private instructor vs. learning from online lesson sites such as Youtube?

A: Youtube and other online sources offering music lessons have become very popular more so now than ever before. Many people have considered it a valid alternative to the time constraints and expense of a private instructor. Although there are some advantages to online lessons, there can also be many disadvantages. Anybody with a cell phone or video camera can create and upload a music lesson video, regardless of experience, and make it available for public viewing. Unless you are an experienced player, it is nearly impossible to distinguish if the information being taught is correct. Also lacking from the Youtube lesson methodology is structure or an organized lesson plan. Jumping randomly from one video to the next will not provide the student with the adequate knowledge required to improve on their instrument. Also, a video cannot offer the personal feedback that would be offered by a private instructor resulting in improper playing technique and bad habits that will be difficult to break out of in the future. It is important to seek out a qualified instructor, learn to read music notation, learn music theory and proper technique and use Youtube as a supplement to your private lessons. This method will provide the student with the knowledge and ability to filter the bad form the good when viewing lesson videos and to progress in their musical studies in a timely manner.