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Monday, August 19, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Guitar Lessons on Skype with MacPhail Music

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I was asked to review a very exciting program through MacPhail Center for Music.  My 11-year-old daughter just finished up a few weeks of beginner guitar lessons on Skype with MacPhail Music.  The music studio set up 4 weeks of private online lessons with my daughter, in exchange for this review.

You will need:

A computer (laptop, or other device) with a Webcam
Access to the Internet
A Skype Account
Instrument of Choice

The instructor recommended we also use a Snark tuner:

Before any lessons began, I received an email from MacPhail with a scheduled time for me to receive a Skype call from one of their representatives.  The purpose of the Skype call was to make sure my computer, Webcam and sound were sufficient to conduct four half-hour lessons over Skype.  This set-up test only took about 20 minutes.  I received a Skype call, and the representative ran through a series of sound and camera tests to make sure nothing was choppy looking in the video or questionable in the sound.  My just over one-year old Dell Inspiron running Windows 7 with an Intel i3 Core processor, essentially passed the test, with somewhat of a question as to whether the computer's microphone would pick up sound sufficiently.


Next, I received an email telling me what my lesson times would be and who my instructor would be.  I was then asked to go to Skype and add my instructor's name to my Skype list of contacts.


The Instructor:

We were assigned Randy Sobaski as the instructor, and I cannot rave about this man enough!  He was patient, personable, funny, worked to put my daughter at ease, and immediately pinpointed her skill level to set up a course plan of action.  I was very impressed.

Let me backtrack a minute to explain that an instructor actually impressing me is no easy task because I have seen the flip side to music lessons.  My husband is a musician and also teaches guitar at a local music studio.  He had previously sat down with my daughter to show her a song or two, but is always so very busy teaching and performing that he never really has time to conduct official lessons wit her.  Because my husband has taught for many years, I have seen guitar instruction from the view of the teacher, so it was interesting to sit in to watch lessons from the view of the parent of a student.  And, I was impressed.

On the last lesson, dad even got to sit in.To take part in these online lessons:

Following is an example of some of the notes the instructor sent my daughter during the lesson.  I printed out some of the notes after the lesson was over.

I loved how the instructor immediately typed in learning notes or sent links to sites which included additional educational material.

If I were doing these lessons on a consistent basis, I would definitely invest in a headset microphone designed specifically for Skype calls to make it easier on the instructor to hear precisely.  But, the sound didn't prove to be too much of an obstacle once the lessons were underway even though my daughter was very shy and soft spoken during the lessons.


The price of these lessons are comparable to other music studios in my area, only these allow flexibility and convenience of online lessons at home, without paying extra for an instructor to come to you for a private lesson:

Special introductory pricing - Individual instruction for 4 online lessons is $111.  Homeschooled children in Grades K-12 receive this 25% discount from standard tuition rates.

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Daytime Flex Packs for Live Online Lessons - Schedule 8 live online lessons during the 18 week semester on any weekday from 9-3 CST.  Introductory lessons at $37 per 30 minute lesson.  They have a cancellation policy that gives you the option of canceling your lesson up to 48 hours in advance without forfeiting the lesson.

Please read, here, what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about guitar and other musical lessons through Skype with MacPhail Music. Or, click on the picture below to see all of the other reviews:


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