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The 7 Pitfalls of Private Music Lessons, and How Video Exchange Can Help


This week, we had the pleasure of sitting down with David Butler, Chairman and co-founder of ArtistWorks and our “Beginner’s Guide to Acoustic Guitar” course instructor, to discuss the concept of Video Exchange, how he conceptualized the learning method, and a few of the reasons why it’s such an effective tool for teaching music lessons. Here are the seven pitfalls of private music lessons, and how Video Exchange can help:


David Butler: In 2006, I was given the privilege of watching a couple of dozen private lessons taught by a jazz guitarist in his private studio. In those private lessons, I noticed that the experience for both the students and the teacher was often far from optimal. This also mirrored some of my own experiences in private lessons over the years. So, I’ll give you a comparison of the private lesson approach (as I observed and experienced it) and Video Exchange Learning (which I created as a way to improve on the private lesson approach):


Private Lesson Pitfall #1:

I noticed that in private music lessons, students generally feel unprepared and rushed. Sometimes they even experience performance anxiety, and, in many cases, aren’t able to master techniques taught to them from one private lesson to the next. So, rather than feeling encouraged and inspired at the end of their private lessons, students too often feel defeated and drained. Additionally, because they can’t witness the progress of any of the teacher’s other students, they don’t know how they’re doing by comparison.


Video Exchange Solution #1:

With our online music lessons and the Video Exchange approach, students don’t submit videos for feedback until they feel ready. Students can privately record their submission over and over until they feel that the exercise or technique they’re playing reflects their level of learning. Just as importantly, with the VE approach, students can view all interactions between their teacher and his or her other students. This helps them to realize that they aren’t alone in their musical journey and allows students to learn from one another.


Private Lesson Pitfall #2:

Music teachers that host private lessons end up teaching the same concepts over and over. Rather than feeling invigorated, private lesson teachers often feel exhausted and uninspired after repeating themselves all day.


Video Exchange Solution #2:

When we collaborate with a master musician to create a course at ArtistWorks, that musician records a carefully prepared, organized, and comprehensive path of lessons. These lessons are captured in a professional studio with multiple camera angles and high-quality audio. These recorded lessons address all the common techniques and issues for the teacher’s specific instrument and genre and serve as the “textbook" for the course. This approach to online music lessons liberates instructors from having to teach the same topics over and over.


With our Video Exchange courses, students can watch and work through the recorded lessons at their own pace and are invited to submit their own videos to their teacher for assessment when they feel ready. After watching the student’s video, the teacher then turns on his or her own camera and records a response video. In his or her response, the teacher will provide an assessment, point out any issues, and sometimes refer the student back to the recorded lesson material for remediation, rather than re-teaching the material from scratch. Additionally, because every Video Exchange is available for all students in the course to view, the teacher constantly impacts their whole subscriber community with each response. Liberated from repetition by the recorded lesson blocks, teachers are able to impact a large volume of students and do so with less fatigue and frustration.


Private Lesson Pitfall #3: 

Private music lessons are often expensive. As a result, some students may never be able to access them, and the ones that can sometimes feel over-charged.


Video Exchange Solution #3:

Our Video Exchange courses at ArtistWorks offer students access to the minds and techniques of master musicians (many of them critically acclaimed and award-winning) at family-friendly pricing. We’re able to keep prices affordable for the students due to the efficiency of the VE structure for both the teachers and student communities. 


Private Lesson Pitfall #4:

Even though private music lessons can be expensive, many teachers still experience financial struggles and feel underpaid.


Video Exchange Solution #4:

When you’re a teacher of private lessons, your remuneration is limited by the number of hours you can teach in a month, a week, a day, etc. (presuming you can even fill your roster, which can often be difficult). The VE model allows teachers to better leverage their time, share their skills and knowledge with more students, and make a stable income while doing so.


Private Lesson Pitfall #5:

Selecting the right private teacher for you is difficult.


Video Exchange Solution #5:

At ArtistWorks, every single one of our teachers is vetted. Our faculty is comprised of only experts and/or master musicians. Therefore, when looking for a teacher at ArtistWorks, the student simply has to choose the instrument and genre he or she is interested in learning with no need to worry about the teacher’s qualifications.


Private Lesson Pitfall #6:

Most successful performing and recording musicians don’t teach private lessons at all, or, if they do, the lessons are prohibitively expensive.


Video Exchange Solution #6: 

In fact, most ArtistWorks instructors are performing and recording musicians—many are Grammy-winners or otherwise highly recognized artists. These great musicians want to “give back” to the world and create an impactful teaching legacy with ArtistWorks. We have found a way to provide all students with individualized access to great musicians—that way is the VE approach.


Private Lesson Pitfall #7:

Private lessons are inconvenient.


Video Exchange Solution #7:

Private lessons require the student and teacher to coordinate their schedules, and in-person lessons require travel. With our Video Exchange Learning platform at ArtistWorks, students can learn at their own pace when it’s most convenient for them to do so, and teachers can respond to a huge number of students quickly and efficiently, making a greater impact on the global musical community.



Interested in learning more about our patented Video Exchange Learning® platform? Check out the video below!




David Butler is the Chairman and co-founder of ArtistWorks, a lifelong acoustic guitarist, and the creator of Video Exchange Learning®. He grew up listening to and playing the guitar-centric music of the ’60s, surrounded by the many musical influences of his hometown Memphis, Tennessee. Especially drawn to the sound of the acoustic guitar, he strived to master and teach its many styles and techniques including flat pick and fingerstyle (“Travis”) picking.


In this online Beginner Guide to Acoustic Guitar course, David shares his lifetime of acoustic guitar knowledge. His goal is to provide comprehensive, step-by-step, deep instruction that fills in gaps that often cause first-time players to get frustrated. Normally behind the camera at ArtistWorks, he now steps to the other side to teach all the adult beginners who wish to play and enjoy the acoustic guitar.


Interested in learning how to play the acoustic guitar? Experience our acoustic guitar lessons online for yourself and try out some free sample music lessons here. You’ll quickly see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Beginner's Guide to Acoustic Guitar: All-Inclusive Plan Now Available!

Beginner Acoustic Guitar: Learning Guitar Basics

Beginner Acoustic Guitar: Two Simple, but Important Tips




Affordable Plans

Each subscription is for a single school. Pricing and features can vary slightly per school.

1 Month membership
renews monthly
Unlimited Access to Lessons
Unlimited Video Exchanges
Exclusive Content
$35/month (prepaid)
3 Month membership
renews every 3 months
Unlimited Access to Lessons
Unlimited Video Exchanges
Exclusive Content
$30/month (prepaid)
12 Month membership
renews every 12 months
Unlimited Access to Lessons
Unlimited Video Exchanges
Exclusive Content
$20/month (prepaid)