My Experience as a Student Learning Guitar Online

My Experience as a Student Learning Guitar Online

Over the pandemic, faced with a loss of all gigs and in person lessons. It felt that the world itself moved online. Faced with a lot of free time and being a guitar teacher myself. I saw an opportunity I couldn’t pass by.

Joel Hoekstra (Guitarist for Whitesnake, Cher, TSO, Night Ranger and Broadway’s Rock of Ages) advertised on social media that he was offering a select amount of tuition per week via Skype form his apartment in New York. Immediately I dropped him an email.

“Hi Matt,

I’m mainly looking for people that can commit to a weekly time slot for at least a few weeks. Content is up to you, I tab it during, send over after and you’re free to record it via Skype.”

After my reply, I got a swift response yet again saying:

“Fantastic, I’ve got you down for 3:30pm EST. I am ****** on Skype, Standard tuning, please make Payments on Paypal to ******* before the lesson.

Looking forward to it!

– Joel”

Great! Now I had a lesson booked, I needed to make sure my online setup was ready for the task at hand. Thankfully as I’m a guitar teacher myself, I have a small setup with a UAD interface, some Adam Audio monitor speakers and an Aston Origin Condenser Microphone which sounds clear, bright and works great with my Mac Mini over the internet.

Receiving lessons over a screen was quite a strange experience, alongside being a little star struck. Joel was great, friendly and informative. I was given plenty of exercises and some incredible advice, he was a great leader. Taking me through the positions of the minor pentatonic scales and how to get the most from each scale shape. He sent me scanned photos of the tab he was writing from New York to the UK instantaneously. Whilst this was happening, I was recording the videos directly to my computer, so I could review it an unlimited number of times, this I found to be a major advantage over physical lessons. Not a single world would be lost and I can re-live these lessons second by second even now….  

Despite being over a screen, we were able to discuss topics at great length, such as the major, harmonic minor, melodic minor, diminished scale systems and vast topics form tapping, legato and hybrid picking exercises to Jazz standards to Sweep Picking. He showed me concepts I’d never seen performed on the guitar before and definitely would not have found from a local teacher in Northamptonshire. Joel was so talented and computer literate I was even able to jam over his rhythm guitar playing (Despite my lead guitar being very distracting due to the latency at his end, he played in time with me to offset this).

I often filmed progress videos after countless hours of practice and sent them over to Joel via google drive during the week before our lessons, and he would watch and review them before moving onto the next subject topic.

Some disadvantages I encountered during this time were occasional internet issues, drop outs for a minute or two. I once had a power cut that left my wireless router off for 30 minutes, the power had also taken out the Virgin Media router which meant I could not email Joel to let him know the problem and missed a lesson.

Another (Easily avoidable) issue was actually the time difference between us. Over the course of the year there were two occasions of Joel calling me an hour earlier (daylight savings time) and neither of us realising what had happened. Quite funny actually.

Overall I found my experience of taking guitar lessons online so inspiring, I ended up taking these lessons for over a year with Joel. Each lesson, I would save the recorded video and print out the tab sheets and put them into a book. We built up a great friendship despite living across the Atlantic and I doubt our paths would ever have crossed in person. The skills I have learned alongside dedicating a year to practice and getting to know one of my idols in person was a lifechanging experience and has truly showed me what can be possible with online guitar tuition and what it takes to be a professional in the music industry at an elite level.

I will continue to review these lessons weekly and actually have plans to meet with Joel on tour with Whitesnake in the UK in 2022.

About the author

Matt Wensor is a professional guitar teacher and guitar based in Northampton, England. He has many years teaching experienced, working students of all learning abilities and ages. He continues to look to develop himself as a guitarist and would love to share with you how you can do the same. To find out more about his guitar teaching check out his profile:

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