Great Schools for Online Music Education

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April 8th, 2011

For many, learning how to play a musical instrument takes time, patience and loads of practice. When one typically thinks about the training process behind this skill, he or she might picture themselves in a practice hall with other instrumentalists, or in a small room for a one-on-one session with an instructor. However, advances in technology now allow individuals to acquire their musical education from the comfort of their own home. Here are
a few places where students can find music education at the college level.

  • Berklee College of Music: Since 1945, the Boston-based Berklee College of Music has prepared its students for musical careers by constantly evolving to reflect the ever-changing styles and state of the industry. In 2002, the institution launched Berkleemusic.com, its online music school. The online institution acts as an extension of the college and allows students to pursue whatever subjects they want, whenever they want. Web-based courses are available in a variety of creative subjects, including music production, songwriting, arranging, music theory, harmony and ear training. Individuals who wish to perfect their instrumentation can pursue online courses in guitar, bass and drums. Debbie Cavalier, dean of continuing education at Berklee, told the Boston Globe that enrollment in the online school has increased by 30 percent almost every year since its inception. “I think online learning in general is everywhere, but not as much in a formalized way for music,” Cavalier added. Berklee’s learning opportunities also feature their fair share of celebrity instructors. Grammy Award-winning rock guitarist, composer and producer Steve Vai recently set out to lead the world’s largest online guitar lesson with the help of the institution.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Just down the road from Berklee is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. The school offers online learners worldwide the opportunity to access course materials over the Internet through a program known as OpenCourseWare. Web-based courses that MIT has offered include Introduction to Western Music, Fundamentals of Music and Music of India. These online offerings were developed by school faculty, which according to Education-Portal, includes internationally known composers and performers.
  • Full Sail University: Students who have an interest in the business side of the music industry have the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in this area of focus online. As file sharing, iPods and other technological advances continue to change the nature of the music industry, Full Sail students can gain an understanding of business fundamentals in addition to the skills that are* necessary to work in this field, according to the university’s official website. At first, courses cover fundamental business topics, such as marketing, finance and advertising. As students advance in the program, they focus on industry-specific classes in intellectual property, publishing, distribution, artists and product management. In the final stages of the program, students draw on all that they have learned to formulate a business plan.
  • Other options: Beyond academic institutions’ online offerings, individuals who seek convenient musical education can find other options elsewhere on the World Wide Web. For instance, individuals who want to receive new age piano lessons can turn to Quiescence Music for online coursework. The lessons, which were developed by pianist and composer Edward Weiss, teach students three separate techniques – the Ostinato, the Crossover and the Broken Chord. Guitar Tricks is another online resource for individuals who wish to develop their skills on the stringed instrument. The website was launched after Jon Broderick, a San Francisco guitarist, searched for online lessons and found none. The artist has created a spot for anyone from novices to experts to acquire different playing techniques.

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