Can You REALLY Learn to Sing on Skype?
Here’s the bad news:
We’re all stuck inside!
The fact that we’ve never seen a pandemic in our lifetime before makes this event truly life-changing in lots of ways.
And it’s possible that we may be staying indoors for a while.
But here’s the truth:
Life goes on!
And just because you can’t interact with people in real life doesn’t mean that you have to give up the things you truly love to do.
If you’re a beginning singer and you’re looking to improve your voice, this may be the best possible time to reach the next level in your singing.
When is the next time you have so much time on your hands?
And psychologists continue to talk about how singing is good for your mood.
It always feels good to get better at something, especially singing.
But in order to do that, you may need the help of a great voice teacher.
And since you can’t travel to in-person lessons at the moment, the obvious question is this:
Can you REALLY learn to sing on Skype? (Or FaceTime, Zoom, Messenger or Hangouts)
So today, I’ll be discussing the reasons that people take singing lessons online and whether they really work.
We’ll also cover the biggest differences between live and online voice lessons and how you can prepare to make the most out of online singing lessons.
Let’s get started!
Why Do People Take Online Singing Lessons?
Let’s face it:
In this tech age, no one is really stuck taking voice lessons in their town, country or even hemisphere any more.
In fact, some reasons to take vocal lessons online are:
- There are no voice teachers in your area
- You may be disabled or unable to travel
- Your voice teacher may be located in a different city
- Or you may just prefer not to travel to a voice lesson every week
And the internet has made it easier than ever to find great singing lessons in the comfort of your home.
Which is the Best Singing Lesson Platform?
Now that you understand why it might be beneficial to take online singing lessons (especially now), here’s a question:
What is the best platform for taking online singing lessons?
Well, the truth is that there’s no shortage of online conferencing applications out there.
Some of the most common online singing lesson platforms are:
- FaceTime (for iOS only)
- Facebook Messenger
- Google Hangouts
I personally teach on ALL of these platforms.
Which one works best?
Here’s the truth:
It really depends on the student and their location.
I tend to use Skype as my very first destination for online singing lessons.
I have had fantastic experiences teaching on Skype in the US. However, things can sometimes get buggy when the student is outside the country.
And Facebook Messenger has been a godsend for working with students internationally. The calls are often much clearer than with Skype when the student is outside the country.
But then again, sometimes if the student is far away enough, I like using Google Hangouts which is accessed through your email account.
Here’s the bottom line:
No platform is perfect!
But all of these common platforms can and do work well to teach singing lessons.
So it’s best to start with the one that you’re the most familiar with and try others if you have any problems.
Are Live and Online Lessons Really the Same?
All this talk about the different platforms can make you wonder:
Are singing lessons online the same as taking them in person?
If you look around the internet, you’ll find countless singing teachers that say “there’s absolutely no difference” between the two.
But let me tell you the truth:
There are some BIG differences between Online and Live lessons.
And I think pretending that the two are the same can set up the student to be disappointed.
But that’s not necessary! As we’ll see there are some great benefits to taking skype lessons.
For now, here’s what you need to know:
The biggest difference between online and live lessons comes down to one thing: a time delay.
I don’t care if you’re teaching on Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or Hangouts, there is a time delay.
And until the developers at these companies figure out how to break the laws of physics, there will probably be a bit of time delay in online lessons.
This time lag, even if it’s less than a second makes online and live lessons totally different. Here’s how.
Time Lag Drag
Why does a time delay make everything different between Skype and Live lessons?
Well, if there’s a time delay, the main difference is that the student can’t sing along with the piano scales at the same time the teacher plays them.
That means that if I play a scale for my student to sing, they will hear the notes I play slightly after I play them. Even if it’s half a second later.
So what’s the solution?
Well in an online lesson, I will sing the scale or phrase. Then the student will hear the scale and sing it back a capella (without music).
Here’s the order of the workflow:
- I play or sing a scale or phrase
- The student hears the scale or phrase
- The student then sings back the scale or phrase without music
- I give feedback on what the student sang
So what’s the big deal?
Well in an online lesson, you’ll have to rely on your sense of pitch and tone to be able to sing it back.
In addition to the time delay, some of the other issues with online lessons are:
- You may encounter internet or software interruptions
- You may need to have a second device to play your backing track since most apps automatically silence sounds created by your computer.
- You may feel less connected to your teacher since they are not in the room
The Real Reason to Sing Online
With all of these technical issues, you have to wonder “is it really possible to learn to sing on Skype?”
The answer is an emphatic “HECK YEAH!”
While it’s true that the time lag makes singing along with the piano scales impossible, that doesn’t mean that you won’t learn to sing better.
Online singing lessons don’t have to suck.
Actually, learning to sing online has some HUGE musical benefits for the singer.
The main benefit to singing online is that it’s fantastic for your ear training.
Ear training, in case you’re not familiar, is the ability to hear relationships and intervals between different notes, chords and scales.
At the heart of ear training is a process called “audiation”.
Audiation is the ability to hear a note in the mind even when it’s not being played at the moment.
And audiation is integral to being able to learn to sing well.
In other words, when I play a scale and you have to sing it back, you’re actually going through a very complex process that builds your ear training, musical memory and sense of pitch.
Learning to sing on Skype can make you an ear-training ninja!
After all, when you’re playing on stage, you’re not going to have a voice teacher there to play every note of the song as you sing it.
The truth is when you sing live, you’re going to be in situations where you can barely hear yourself!
And learning to sing online, even if it’s not perfect, actually gives you an experience that you can use to improve your musicality.
But that’s not all.
Here are some of the other benefits of learning to sing online:
- Improved ear training
- Enhanced musical memory
- The ability to improvise
- Better audiation
- Access to teachers WAY outside your area
Where’s the Proof?
Obviously, I think that you can learn to sing online.
I also think it can be a really rewarding experience for a singer to improve their ear in lessons.
But where’s the proof?
Well, the truth is that tons of professional singers that take lessons from the road.
From Adele, to P!nk and John Legend to Brandon Flowers, tons of pro singers take online lessons when they can’t be in the same place as their voice teacher.
And WAY before Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts, singers would take voice lessons over the phone.
Just listen to Michael Jackson’s lesson with Seth Riggs, founder of Speech Level Singing.
So just be grateful that we have video (wagging finger like a grandpa)!
But Seth Riggs isn’t the only teacher that taught online.
I also have a lot of experience teaching singers online.
Here’s one of my favorite lessons with studio singer Mella.
How to Make the Most Out of Your Online Lesson
You can imagine that I teach a LOT of singing lessons online.
With students from Italy, Spain, Brazil, Los Angeles and New York, I love meeting new students online, all from the comfort of my Austin, TX studio.
And now that I’ve been teaching on Skype for a while, I know what it takes to make the most out of your online lesson.
Many of these are best practices that I’ve learned to make the learning process as simple as possible for students.
So before your online lesson, follow these simple tips:
- Have a good internet connection
- Find a space where you feel comfortable singing
- Download the video conferencing software (Skype, FaceTime, etc.) you’ll be using ahead of time
- Add your teacher on the chosen platform before the lesson
- At the lesson time, send a chat message to your teacher letting them know you’re ready. Often they’ll be finishing up another lesson and sending them a message lets them know you’re there
- Have a second device ready to play the song that you want to work on--for example, if you’re using Skype on your desktop, have your phone ready to play the song
If you follow these simple steps, you’ll be amazed at how great your lesson goes!
Can You REALLY Learn to Sing On Skype?
Now that you’ve seen both the benefits and challenges of learning to sing online, it’s time to circle back to our original question:
Can you really learn to sing online?
The answer is absolutely yes.
While there are certainly challenges to singing online, you may be able to use them as an opportunity to keep growing your singing skills.
That means improving your ear training, musical memory and improvisational skills.
So if you’re looking to take singing lessons online, feel free to book a 30 or 60-Minute Skype voice lesson today.