It’s interesting to see how a new idea gains acceptance over time.

We see it all the time with musical styles, and it’s also true with the elements of music itself. For example, in the time of Bach, a sus4 chord was considered a dissonance that required resolution. Hence, the 4-3 suspension that ended many of his works. As time goes by, however, our collective ears became accustomed to the sound of the 4th rubbing against the 5th so what was once heard as a “tension” now sounds commonplace. After this shift occurs, the next generations begins using sus4 chords on their own, without necessarily resolving them a beat or two later.

Skype piano lessons have undergone this transformation as well.

When I began teaching online, in 2012, people would ask me “How does that work?” “Is it really possible to teach piano over the internet?” Yes, it worked then and it still works today. In fact, it works better today because of increased connection speed and faster computers. And it works especially well with musical styles that involve improvisation, such as jazz, blues, pop, rock, and classical improvisation.

What facilitated this change of perception about Skype piano lessons?

The first thing was that a few pianists decided to take a chance and try it for themselves. Some of them simply enjoyed using the new technology and some others needed to study via Skype because they didn’t live near any local piano teachers who taught the stuff I teach.

But then… something transformative happened.

They told their friends.

When someone asked them how they learned to improvise so well, they replied that they were taking lessons online, over Skype. And I imagine that their friends initaially replied with the same questions that I myself got when I told people where I taught piano. “How does that work?” “Is it really possible to teach piano over the internet?”

And these pianists said yes, the lessons worked, and they were enjoying themselves and learning a lot about piano playing in the process. And since they now knew someone who went ahead and tried this new thing, these other pianists were more likely to try it for themselves. That’s how new music, products, and technologies grow in acceptance. A few people try it first, and then it begins to grow much larger after they begin telling their friends about it.

For me, the whole evolution of Skype piano lessons has been amazing as well. I used to get mainly those pianists who were eager to “try something new” or who lived in remote places. (I’ve taught pianists who live in small island countries all over the world!)

Now I’m finding that a much broader spectrum of pianists are studying piano over Skype. (Sometimes we use Zoom as well.). I get beginning improvisers, piano “re-starters” who are returning to the piano after raising families or retiring from a long career, choral accompanists who want to improve upon their printed pop and jazz accompaniment parts, local piano teachers who want to teach their own students how to improvise or play popular styles, and professionals who want to learn new techniques or take their playing to new levels. And recently, a few of my adult piano students have asked me to teach their teenage children in addition to themselves.

It’s been fascinating to see the whole concept of Skype piano lessons shift from something only a few pianists did, to something that’s embraced right away. Just like the internet has become in a few short years.

I wish you the very best with your piano playing in whichever way you’re learning. If you’re interested in learning piano with me via Skype, please email me at rondrotos@keyboardimprov.com. I give all my regular Skype piano students full access to my extensive video course for free, as well as a weekly in-depth newsletter that I write specially for my piano students.

Thanks for being here, enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”

Ron

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