There is an explosion of information and interesting content on the internet today including articles, instructional videos, all kinds of recordings and video footage from some of our finest performers and thinkers. I find a lot of it inspiring and I am amazed at the quantity and much of the quality of what is easily available and free. I am interested in and have produced some content myself, so I definitely think that it is a good thing.
Because I teach in person on a regular basis, I can’t help noticing how much of what happens in lessons is compelled by the particular needs, personality, gifts and challenges of the person in front of me. In other words, the process itself is more about how each individual interacts and responds to a set of circumstances presented in the material being learned and how a “present” teacher can facilitate that process. Sometimes, a teacher can demonstrate a solution or a variety of options for addressing the challenge, identify counterproductive and sabotaging tendencies, make the student aware of many unconscious choices and generally instill a “consciousness” to the whole learning experience.
So much of what I see in my students during lessons is about their struggles with being patient and compassionate with themselves, allowing themselves to slow down, suspending harsh self-judgment, etc. In other words, it is not entirely or largely about the musical considerations, but more about individual factors that the student brings to the table. In this way, a lesson in person can be translated to other seemingly unrelated pursuits to a much greater degree than simply receiving information on a specific topic.
The one caveat would be in the case of an individual who has already benefitted from many wonderful lessons with supportive, excellent and attentive teachers. Ideally, the student has attained another perspective which should always be present...the teacher’s past instruction and observations. Even then, there are some things that we always miss about our habits and tendencies and new things that come up as we grow.