17 Sources for Learning Music Online While Sheltering in Place
Rather than looking at sheltering in place as an unhappy situation, embrace it. Let's look at this time as a gift and make the most of it by expanding our knowledge and horizons. We’ve put together these resources to pique your interest and hopefully among them, you’ll find something just right for you:
World-renowned Jacob School of Music (Indiana University) Professor of Violin Mimi Zweig has put together a compendium of free material for learning to play the violin, viola, and cello. Done in partnership with her colleagues Brenda Benner and Susan Moses, you’ll find 6 hours of video lessons, downloadable PDFs, and even a violin string clinic. Aimed at teachers as well as students, Mimi and her colleagues are constantly adding new material. Sponsored by Thomastik-Infeld and Connolly Music.
A directory of master music teachers willing to teach you online, one-on-one. You can search by instrument, pricing, availability (lesson day), other (language spoken, teach kids, etc.). Provides reviews from students and teacher bios to help you choose among them. They also offer group classes. Some teachers offer trial periods, and you can book one or more lessons at a time. Lessons can be recorded. Not sure? You can request a teacher match — put in your instrument, skill level, what you want to learn, your goals, when want to start, your desired lesson days/times. You’ll get responses back from teachers who match your needs. Payment is required in advance. They also offer foreign languages.
These are online music lessons you access on demand from master musicians. Their “Video Exchange Learning” means you can upload up to five videos and receive a personal response video from your teacher. Both of those videos are then uploaded into their Video Exchange Library for all members to access and comment/discuss so you can all learn from each other. Available to students of all levels. You pay annually or monthly ($24 - $35/mo). The longer the subscription period, the more features are unlocked, e.g. backing sound tracks, etc. Their featured violin teacher is Richard Amaroso of the Philadelphia Orchestra, cello is Mike Block, and fiddle is Darol Anger. When you subscribe, music theory lessons are included for free.
MOOCs (massive open online courses) is a collaborative initiative started by higher education institutions. Massive in the sense that thousands of students may be taking the same classes online at the same time. They are available in all subject areas, including music. They are “open” to anyone who wishes to sign up, and they are free. You can access them online with your preferred device. You’ll find many directories online to help you find courses you’re interested in. Generally speaking, any reputable university or college is already participating (e.g. Berklee College of Music, University of California at Berkeley, Harvard, Yale, California Institute of the Arts, Curtis Institute of Music, etc.). All you need to do is visit your preferred institution’s website and find their online learning program or department. On the other hand, if you’d like some help, here are some directories:
- MOOCs Directory
- MOOC List
- MOOC Lab
- Class Central
- Coursera (some of these are paid, some offer specializations / certifications)
Offers an online course and resources aimed specifically at teachers to help them learn how to teach online successfully.
This is a terrific resource for educators who help each other to create online learning lessons and courses. There is an open sharing of ideas and content.
Claiming to be the largest compilation of video on-demand courses in the world (150,000+) taught by more than 57,000 instructors, Udemy offers courses on thousands of different topics. While there are a few courses specific to string/orchestral music, it’s mostly useful for finding courses on learning different music software platforms and music fundamentals (e.g. music theory and composition, music appreciation, producing music [sound mixing, sound design, etc.]). You pay once for each course and have lifetime access to it. Here’s one on composing orchestral music for strings. This particular course is $199. 30-day money-back guarantee. Courses available in different languages.
LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com)
Lynda.com was originally founded to help people learn how to use different software applications. Now owned by LinkedIn, the site offers hundreds of topics, including music lessons for different instruments, although at the time of publication, none are for strings. You can find guitar, ukelele, banjo, bass, drum, piano, vocals. Join via a monthly membership at, $30 - $20/mo. There is also a free trial period.
This site offers a wide variety of topics to choose from. Their music options are focused mostly on music appreciation and history. Unlike many of the others here, you can download their application, or access them via Apple TV, Roku, AmazonFireTV, Kindle Fire, Chromecast, Google Play, App Store. Monthly or quarterly subscription ($20 - $10). Free trial.
You’ve probably seen their TV and Facebook ads about studying with luminaries such as Ron Howard for film directing, Gordon Ramsay on cooking, and Morgan Freeman on acting. Well, they also have masterclasses with Timbaland (producing and beatmaking, Hans Zimmer (film scoring), and Armin van Buuren (dance music). At present, they’re running a special for buy 1 free membership, get another free. At $180, you have access fo 80 classes (10 lessons for each class and each lesson is 10 minutes). They also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Download and/or view on your TV, mobile device, or computer of choice.
This site offers lots of free content - lessons, exercises, and tools. They sell two iOS apps - Theory Lessons (39 lessons for $2.99) and Tenuto (24 lessons, 6 calculators for $3.99). Both of these work offline, so you can learn even when you’re off the grid. They recommend using the latest browser versions of Safari, Chrome, Firefox, or Edge. A nice little drill tool to improve your musicianship.
This is a subscription site where you pay as you go on a monthly basis. Lessons are available for three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The more you pay, the more access you unlock to the teacher who runs the site. Access is through uploading videos on a monthly or weekly basis for her feedback, which is also done by video. Unlike ArtistsWorks, your video exchanges are kept private. There is a community forum where you can enter discussions with other students and you have your own file storing area where you can upload materials for your own use. It also provides a “Practice Plan Maker” so you can set up your practice schedule and materials. There are also free sheet music downloads, and play-along violin videos so you can improve your performance with other “players.” Fees range from $20 - $60 per month and go down as you progress in your studies. And you can upgrade or downgrade at any time without penalty.
Free sheet music site that provides you with 2,124 (and growing) compositions in PDF, MIDI, and LilyPond file formats. You can sort through their library by genre, composer, and instrument.