Last night, my son had a sax lesson with a world-renowned teacher - a 6 hour plane ride and a time zone away. Are we independently wealthy and able to fly him across the country for a 60 minute lesson? I wish! Nope, he did it via Skype.
Afterward, I told my husband, who is also a musician, that I didn't think the lesson would have been any different if they were face-to-face. He agreed. There is no time delay. The sound is crystal clear. They can see each other; the teacher can point out fingerings on his own instrument. He can also see the fingerings that my son is doing. When the teacher wants my son to try something, he models it for him. My son plays it for him and receives immediate feedback. At one point, my son plays something. The teacher catches a mistake, jumps in and plays it correctly on his sax. My son picks it up and continues where he left off. There is no pause is the flow. If you think about it, I could be describing a traditional sax lesson.
Typically, when my son goes to a local lesson, he brings a notebook or the sheet music he is working on. As the lesson proceeds, the teacher jots notes on the page about what to play and what to practice. In this case, his teacher simply typed in the chat window. When finished, my son copied and pasted it into a document for reference later.
You might think that teacher and student can't possibly build a relationship this way. After all, isn't that human connection important in music? The fact is they've never met in person; however, they speak conversationally, crack a joke here or there, and feel the music together.
In a different generation, my son would have had a choice of instructors within, say, a 10 mile radius. Or, if we were willing to drive him a further distance, and if he could do his homework in the car, he could expand his search for a teacher into a wider geographic region. Now, his choices are only limited by the tools his teacher is willing to use.
Music lessons...in a way never before possible.