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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Skype lessons
Skype lessons
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1 post
Nov 09, 2019
4:34 PM
Hello, new to the forum. Has anyone here tried skype lessons? What are some pros and cons? Who was the teacher? Do you think it was a good investment?
6268 posts
Nov 09, 2019
5:40 PM
Hi, tone04.
I have had Skype sessions with Jimi Lee, Mark Hummel, Christelle Berthon, and Ronnie Shellist.

Cons are potentially the expense, time zones, sound quality, choosing the wrong instructor for your musical interest, and something else I’ll talk about in more detail later.

Pros are that you might get some genuine qualified direction on what you need to do, and some insight into how to achieve it, and have confidence in the advice.

Books and videos are cool and many contain high quality instruction. The problem I’ve often had is knowing when to move on, or how much emphasis to place on particular aspects. A good tutor will help with that.

Mr Jimi Lee is not cheap. He is a great harp player in many ways and if you like the way he plays he can definitely help you play like that.
He really helped me understand about bending and vibrato and I have him to thank largely for getting me on track to develop my tone (to whatever extent that’s a thing).

I did not like the YouTube hangout format whereby he shared the link to a private video which I could not download and keep. Eventually I was unable to access those recordings.
I also did not like the way he signed me up for another block of lessons at the end of each block. I understand it’s business, but I felt pressured and I began to feel like I was on a merry go round. He never discussed my goals, or what direction I wanted to go. I am not saying he took me in the wrong direction, and he did teach me a lot. I’m not saying he did the wrong thing. All I’m saying is that I wasn’t consulted and at times I felt out of control.
The other thing was that I struggled to practice enough to really assimilate the information and I often felt I was moving on too soon. That kind of goes with the territory when you are being signed on for another block of lessons you know.

Anyway, if I’d been a more confident or assertive person this could have all been dealt with easily so I’m really not blaming the teacher. I’m just saying you probably need to be prepared to butt in sometimes and make sure you’re getting value and be prepared to call it if not.

By contrast, Christelle said at the end of our lesson that she would be happy to give me another lesson ‘but not too soon’. This was very honest, acknowledging that I needed to put in some basic work on my ability to bend to pitch before she could really help me further. Jimi Lee actually dug in and taught me to take control of the bending process.

Mark Hummel offered a discounted rate if I booked a block of 4 lessons. He was actually cheaper than JL. Mark did not teach me to play in the same way as JL though. We studied a couple of songs and he suggested ways I could work on learning to play 3rd position, things I should work on to improve my game- these were things which came out through the study of specific songs when there was a passage I couldn’t reproduce.
He was also just great to talk to. I could have taken more away from those sessions if I’d been better prepared with questions for him. Basically I had 4 hours of one on one time with a great player and although I’m not quite sure how it worked, somehow I grew as a player.

Ronnie Shellist is a very straightforward and in my view honest guy. I never felt any pressure with Ron, in fact he expressly told me I could come and go as I pleased. He was different to JL because there was basically no theory. Oh, there were scales I suppose, and we talked about positions so there has to be some theory but Ronnie is all about the ears. He was also the most flexible in choice of session times and very available to listen to examples of my playing and make suggestions.

I’d take more lessons from RS but the $ has gone so high and I know by now that I really just have to put the work in.
2 posts
Nov 09, 2019
6:40 PM
Thanks SuperBee. I did look into Ronnie but his price is high. I am terrible at learning by ear and am a beginner. So unless the lessons where only once a month, not sure of the value for me.
16 posts
Nov 10, 2019
12:46 PM
Never had skype lesson can't afford it but, you can use zoom for a virtual group meet up. https://zoom.us/pricing

Zoom offers a full-featured Basic Plan for free with unlimited meetings. Try Zoom for as long as you like - there is no trial period. Your Basic plan has a 40 minutes time limit on meetings with three or more total participants. Need your group meetings to last longer than 40 minutes?

If you know of a person with more experience who is willing to give up some time could be worth looking into.

Might be good for members of this forum for having a virtual jam session. Just a thought.

I've never used zoom but from what I've it seems possible but it needs to structured session.

I know John Gindick uses zoom for his lessons.

This video shows John giving some skype lessons.

Last Edited by Dai on Nov 11, 2019 3:34 AM
303 posts
Nov 13, 2019
5:04 AM
Though I don't do skype (I am one of those that put tape over the laptop camera).
I live in a rural area so I did learn a ton off of youtube.
Lots of people put out tabs and music together which is one my favorite ways to learn.
I did some of Charlie McCoys on line lessons but those are also not interactive.
Loved the Dummies book with included cd and some of the other ones.

I like live lessons in person with somebody. My last teacher was the best one as he writes a lot of songs and I like his style of playing.

Good luck it's all good.
1702 posts
Jan 24, 2020
5:59 AM
Somehow no one mentioned Michael Rubin . He's a great & patient harmonica teacher (and professionally gigging harmonica player) who teaches via Skype out of his home in Austin. He can take you from extreme beginner to advanced intermediate level with little difficulty. He charges a fair rate as well and he's a member of this forum.

There's few downsides to Skype lessons. I've done in person harmonica lessons with teachers, workshops in person at SPAH etc, and Skype lessons. Harmonica is such that the teacher can't see what you're doing in person or on Skype so being in person doesn't really add an advantage to see what your doing with your technique (like you can with in person piano lessons). As a pro, you can find plenty of top notch teachers on Skype (I've taken from a bunch of them) but depending on where you live you may or may not have many options of good harmonica instruction in person. One con might be that the teacher can't play music on their side while you play music on your side (like them playing piano while you play harmonica) but there are solutions to this like using backing tracks or Rock Band to make your own tracks.

So, I guess as someone who took a few years of in person lessons with a few teachers and a bunch of years of Skype lessons with a couple teachers I definitely think Skype lessons are worth trying out 2 or 3 lessons with various teachers to see if it's for you.



See My Profile for contact info, etc.

92 posts
Jan 26, 2020
9:08 PM
I've done Skype & google hangout lessons for harp & mandolin. And for beginners you can't go wrong.

Pros access to really good players/teachers & you don't have to leave the house !

Cons cant think of any for mando & maybe I'm wrong on this one, but I just took an in person harp lesson from a seasoned pro and immediately He wanted to work on my tone & I was a little surprised as I've been told on skype lessons that tone was one of my strong points maybe audio quality of skype doesn't let the other person really hear how you sound. Anyway after one in person lesson my tone improved & I may have never got that from skyping.
Good Luck take some skype lessons & have fun
105 posts
Jan 27, 2020
11:46 AM
I can see where they could be a good idea as I think Super Bees point about knowing when to move on is a very good one. I've wasted a lot of time trying to learn stuff when I could have been doing something more useful, a good teacher would show you what you should be learning and showing you how.
Skype and one to one lessons are way out of my budget so I shall muddle on and have fun doing it.
6447 posts
Jan 27, 2020
2:09 PM
Face to face in the same room would be great.
I met some players at Hill Country Harmonica 18, but didn’t get any 1 on 1 time.
Mitch Kashmar was right there, Gussow, Todd parrot, Jimi Lee, magic Dick (although he was not quite so available to chat with), and really a bunch of great players just in attendance and hawking their wares. I almost forgot some of the young players; Kyle Rowland blew my mind with his 1st position tone when he demonstrated a jimmy reed lick. I was pretty frustrated by that session, not the presentation but the other people in attendance who were intent on making it about them. I encountered that a lot in group sessions.
But specifically on tone, I would like to get 1 on 1 with a player who has tone I really like. My best opportunity is probably Ian Collard, who is based in Melbourne.

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