For music fans, the internet continues to prove a blessing. The democratization of music is being led by platforms like Spotify and Pandora, making artists’ whole discographies mobile and free for listeners. While these relatively newer platforms tend to dominate the conversation, one much older site still leads the pack in terms of the sheer variety of music resources it offers – YouTube. Especially for us less naturally gifted music junkies, YouTube offers one big draw that no one else can: free online music lessons.
We all had that one instrument we wanted to learn in middle school or high school. (Mine was the banjo, because I was an insufferable 14 year-old Mumford and Sons fan.) But even as our tastes change, there’s still that draw to be able to participate in the experience of live music, if not create it ourselves.
Whether we’ll admit it or not, we all (lowkey) still want to be in a band. It’s the ultimate teenage fantasy that never quite fully disappears, and for a long time, it was only accessible through mega-expensive music lessons. But it’s 2019, and if the “cash me outside” girl from Dr. Phil can be a breakthrough star, so can you. So grab your friends, assign them an instrument – you totally know you’ve already chosen a band role, just like you know you’re definitely the Samantha of the group (or maybe the Ron Swanson for you guys) – and get on it. Music’s not a privilege anymore, it’s an internet-given right.
For the Wannabe Vocalist: Eric Arceneaux
If you watch Eric Arceneaux’s YouTube videos, you’re statistically more likely to win the X Factor. Okay, we can’t guarantee that. But he’s been the personal vocal coach to multiple TV singing competition contestants as well as a slew of Broadway performers, so that definitely counts for something. He’s also been covered in the Washington Post and USA Today. Accolades aside, Arceneaux is actually a super down-to-earth, friendly personality to watch. No gimmicks, just technique – explained in comprehensive terms perfect for beginners. Arceneaux’s videos are excellent for people looking to gain control, expand their range, and overall just develop a healthy singing technique that sounds great and minimizes damage (yes, that’s very much a thing). For those super dedicated to their newfound craft, Arceneaux also offers one-on-one paid vocal lessons either in person or over Skype, which you can find at his website.
For The Next Guitar Guru: Marty Schwartz
Marty Schwartz is like your cool uncle in a trilby hat and Hawaiian shirt that wants to jam with you in your living room. The difference is that Schwartz really knows what he’s doing. With an insane Twitter following for an online music teacher, it’s clear he has both the experience and technique to churn out some very satisfied students. The key seems to be in his step-by-step method. In one of his beginner videos, he takes the time to go over the basic anatomy of a guitar and what each part does, which is surprisingly uncommon for YouTube instructors. A lot of the time, online teachers expect you to come in with some baseline knowledge of an instrument. Instead, Schwartz sets very reasonable goals for each of his videos and lays out the exact steps necessary to get there. In a world of holier-than-thou guitar experts, Marty Schwartz is a breath of fresh air.
For the Debuting Drummer: Stephen Taylor
If Marty Schwartz is the cool Bohemian uncle, Stephen Taylor is the hard rock uncle, with beard, earrings, and graphic tee to match. Essentially, he’s a picture perfect role model for the aspiring drummer. Taylor’s a lot more than a truly on-the-nose aesthetic, though: he owns his own online drumming school, and he’s really dedicated to making drumming work for you and your individual taste. In one of his intro videos, he demos a beat and lists all the popular music it’s featured in, from I Can’t Feel My Face, to Enter Sandman, to Oops I Did It Again – truly covering all the bases of genre. In this sense, the music you learn is very real and applicable to your life and your style. Taylor also goes through his rationale before beginning a lesson, which is a nice touch. This way, you know why you’re learning a beat, what songs it works under, and how you might modify it to work for you. Taylor’s lessons are customizable in the best way possible.
For the Budding Bassist: Scott Devine
Among online instructors, Scott Devine is probably the most casual and conversational, which fits quite well with the laid-back bassist persona (if you believe in any of that). Like Taylor, Devine owns his own online school, but he’s also very generous in his offering of resources. Linked in his YouTube videos are free downloadable work books, and on his home site he offers an entire free toolkit of lessons and courses you can have delivered to your inbox. It’s very clear that Devine’s main priority is access to music for those who really want it, which we love. On top of that, his reviews are glowing. A top YouTube commenter says “I’ve played guitar for years and just picked up a bass, and this is the first teacher to actually stop and explain WHAT a scale is.” Another excellent pick for true beginners, Devine doesn’t skip out on crucial steps in the learning process, and the result is a really solid foundation for his students.