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Are online piano lessons any good?

Are online piano lessons any good?


“Are online piano lessons any good?” by asking that question we are actually asking:

man holding a question mark

“Are online piano lessons better than face-to-face lessons?”

Since the Coronavirus pandemic, we have all learned to use online resources a lot more.

As a piano teacher, I had to start teaching online obviously.

Did I prefer it? was it more comfortable?

I need to be clear on this, I absolutely prefer face-to-face lessons! Music is about sharing and passing energy.

It is very hard to pass any energy to someone through a screen!

Let’s try to look at the pros and cons of online piano lessons versus face-to-face lessons!

Picture of a thumb up and a thumb down


let’s start with the pros:

  • Online lessons are better than no lessons at all
  • Online lessons cost less as you don’t have to travel
  • Some teachers also work with videos, not in a live session. Students record themselves playing and the teacher records advice and tips. The good thing is that you can go at your own pace and replay the lesson as many times as you want.
  • You have lessons from the comfort of your home

And this is all the positive point that I can think of…

I know, not much right?

Well, let’s see the cons now:

  • The most important thing is, if the student doesn’t have a good camera and a good sound system, it might be very hard to teach. With a bad camera or a very restricted view, your teacher can’t see your hands properly or your posture, or which finger number you use on a fast run. This means that you will have to stop and decompose the run note per note to show your teacher which fingers you use. The sound system is very important. Personally, as a music teacher, I think that it is just a very bad marking from a professional point of view to have a very bad sound system online. I always make sure that I have good Microphones, at least two cameras to show my hands and myself in high definition. I also need a very good internet connexion and good hardware. All of This costs money, but I’m a professional, so if I choose to teach online a lot it is a good investment. But for a student, is it really what you need? Because don’t forget that a student needs to be heard by the teacher. During the lockdown, I had a very hard time with a lot of students, because they didn’t have any good connexions or the sound was very bad, or I couldn’t see anything,… When the lockdown finishes, all my students were very happy to go back face-to-face. I’m a piano teacher providing piano lessons in Derby
  • Online, showing something to a student can take 5 or 10 minutes and face-to-face it would take 5 seconds! Literally!
  • We are not talking about motivation!
You have noticed that I don’t particularly like online lessons…

Online lessons can be great if you want to have a few lessons with a particular teacher on a very specific subject and he doesn’t live nearby or on the other side of the world!

But in the long run, I think you shouldn’t expect any results from it.

In conclusion, It is proof that even with all the technologies and connexions that we have at our disposal, nothing will replace real human contact. Music is all about sharing, it is a solitary activity that we need to share with others.

picture of a man's hand holding the hand of a baby







Show me how you practice, I will tell you how motivated you are

My name is Dominic Scohy and I’m a teacher providing piano lessons in Derby.


Today we are going to talk about practice time:


That’s it! You just had your first piano lesson! You promised yourself that you will practice every day, you promised that to your teacher, your parents, your partner, your friends,…

A few weeks pass and you realize that you are not practicing as much as you imagined…

So you are questioning your motivation, did you really wanted to learn piano? Maybe it was just a flash… A dream but it is not really made for you. After all, if you are really motivated, the practice would just come on its own, isn’t it?

Maybe it is time to give up and find something else to do.

Schoolgirl bored
Schoolgirl bored





Let’s try to take some distance for a moment…

What brings you to the piano in the first place? Was it the pleasure of playing some familiar tunes? Or a challenge? A wish to change career? …

Whatever the reason, it was the good one. when you start something new, any reason is the good one.

Now, I can tell you by experience, first of all for myself, for my time providing piano lessons in different countries and for my time being a piano teacher here in Derby;

Practice NEVER comes on its own!

You have to make it part of your life. a bit like going to sport regularly. That requires a bit of discipline.

Just sitting down in front of the instrument 5 minutes a day.

Even if you mess around with the instrument for 4 minutes and you actually do 1 minute of practice.

By the way, messing around is very important!! Don’t neglect that part, it helps to connect with the instrument and feel more comfortable.


So why is practice so boring? Why can you find a way to get around it? Because you actually don’t practice!

Or you are setting a too big target in front of you.

For example, Setting a practice for a week! That’s a bit too far ahead!

Let’s put a practice for today or tomorrow. choose the moment, set it up in your mind. Then do it. 5 minutes…

Then after that practice, set up the next one.

one tiny goal at the time.


I have started to do regular and intensive sport. I keep a routine for it. I do it day by day, practice after practice and I don’t rush.

but sometimes, I miss a day. I feel guilty, I feel like I’m failing and I will probably give up with time.

Then I start to think positively about it. I missed one day, so what? I do the next day.

sometimes, I do one session a week, because of my busy schedule. Should I give up then? So everything I did is good to throw at the bin?


Then I find a way to practice more again and everything seems to go well again.

I also put real targets, not imaginary idealized ones!

If I can’t practice every day because I have a busy life, there is no point in putting on targets that I would probably not being able to follow.


then I will give up very quickly because I know I will never meet my targets!


"Do not give up" picture with scrabble letter
A picture with some Scrabble letter saying “Do not give up”


So just relax, set up a realistic target, like practice today or tomorrow and for the rest, you will see later on.


Life is too short to give up! Give up leads to regrets, life is too short for regrets!


Common now! enough screen! Go practice!






Why is improvisation so scary?

Why is improvisation so scary?


Why Improvisation is considered by a lot of beginners like the Grail of music?

Is it really made for people with natural talent and instinct?

The good news is that everyone can reach a very good level of improvisation and develop an instinct for it.


What is improvisation?

Man wondering why?

Improvisation is the art of creating a piece of music at the moment. You don’t really know what you will play, at least to an extent…


When you improvise, everything is about the context. You are creating a context or you are using a pre-existing context to help to shape your improvisation.


Let me explain:

If you improvise totally free, you are creating a context. You might have one or two quick ideas on how to start but you are no tight by any context of a piece.

If you improvise in a tune, what we call a solo, you are using a pre-existing context to shape your improvisation.

I would like to say that the second option is the easiest but actually, they both have their advantage and disadvantage.

When you are free, you can do what you want, be as creative as you want, meaning that there is no limit to your creativity.

You will express things that you would never think about being able to express with your instrument.

But you can also be very limited by yourself. You are walking into the unknown and you can discover amazing scenery or a very flat and boring one.

But you know what? Flat and boring scenery is the best way to learn and progress!

When you improvise inside a pre-existing tune, like a jazz solo, you are limited by the tune, and that gives you an unlimited choice of improvisation…

To quote Einstein: “If you understood me, it means that I wasn’t clear enough.”

How to start to improvise?

Well, by improvising…

Seriously! Just go for it, don’t try to imitate Oscar Peterson’s solo on your first go, but play very simple things. Just a simple motif that sounds nice. You have to let go and Jump!

woman jumping from a cliff

The hardest thing, especially for an adult is to let go. Children don’t try to be the best, they just improvise, adult feels frustrated for not being able to improvise like their favorite musician, who is improving for a very very long time.

Don’t compare yourself, because the great thing about music and improvisation is that everyone is unique. There is no good or bad way, just your way.

If it sounds good to you, it will sound good to others.

Yes, it is as simple as that, but it takes 4 lives to totally master it!


So what are you waiting for? Take your instrument and go for it!


Girl with t-shirt saying you can do everything


If you need advice about improvisation and piano playing, don’t hesitate to contact me for piano lessons here.

I teach in Derby but also online!

I can’t wait to hear your personality developing through music! 








Music Theory is Boring!

Music theory is a vast subject, I discover that by teaching piano and music theory here in Derby.

Those 2 words create a feeling of fear and are generally repellent, but why?

Is music theory useful and is it important? Can it actually be fun to learn?


Let answer those question in this article.

Why studying music theory?

Man wondering why?

Music theory could be considered as the grammar of music. Music is a type of language so we can compare music theory with learning the grammar in German to be able to improve our practice of the language.

Only that if music is a type of language, it is not a language like French, English, German,…

In the language we use every day, we have very strict rules that we need to know and apply.

If you send an application for a job full of grammar mistakes, they’re very small chances that your potential employer takes you seriously.

In music, it is a bit different… It would have been too easy otherwise.

Rules are there, to be used, but also to be broken.

In music, if a composer only respects rules learned in a composition school for composition, then it might end up good, but with no personalities.

The first thing to develop is instinct, Then you can learn the rules and see how your instinct is reacting with your playing/composition.

The good news is that instinct is something g that we can develop, but that will be another article subject.

I love Abrsm for many many things, but I have to say that the way they provide music theory separating practical grades and theory grades, doesn’t help students to link music theory with their playing.

Music theory should not be separated from playing your instrument; in fact, you should be learning it with the piece you play from a very early stage.

The best way to do this is to analyze the current piece you play and straight away look at the way the composer plays with the rules of Harmony.

Now, music theory includes other aspects than Harmony, like the rhythm, how to read/write sheet music, the intention, dynamics,…

But all the other aspects are covered while you are learning a piece of music from your very first piece.

Harmony is the most bigger and deep part of music theory.

Even if you are a professional musician, playing intensively since the age of 3, like Mozart or Jacob Collier, you still need at least 3 lives to be sure that you have learned and integrate the entire spectrum of harmony, which mean that we learn constantly, we discover constantly which is amazing don’t you think?


Ok, but what is Harmony?

Woman annoyed asking what is that?


In a few words, harmony could be explained by the combination of notes or pitches.

If you play one note on its own, it will have an atmosphere, mostly created by your brain or your mood of the moment. If you combine that note with others, it will create another atmosphere, depending on the note you choose.

The options are endless!

“Mary had a little lamb” that can sound, sad, mysterious, jolly, bright, suspended, scary,…  just by playing the exact same melody but adding different notes to it.

Everything is a question of context, what sounds good in a certain context can sound totally off in another situation.

How to learn harmony? How to make it fun?

Man funny face


Well, first of all, we need to understand the fact that harmony or music theory has to be learned from an early stage by analyzing the piece you play. As a teacher, I  help you by explaining why the composer chooses those combinations of notes instead of others. Exploration is very important as well. What if we change those combinations?

A very good way is by improvisation.

Improvisation, with my help, is also very important and helps you to open your ears to this wonderful language that music is.

Improvisation is not scary, and should be taken step by step with my assistance!

When a student comes for a lesson with a very small melody that they created between 2 lessons, I’m very impressed and always very happy!

I remember one of my student, a child who is still having piano lessons with me today in Derby, when I was explaining the blues 7th chords to her and how it sounds like, while I was playing a simple G7 chord, she said “That’s so beautiful!” and she was playing that G7 chords for weeks after that on each lesson!

For me, this is the most beautiful gift and proof that what I believe about Harmony is correct! Never dissociate it from playing!

Music is art, creation, something that express the very best and beautiful part of our personality, and as a piano teacher, I feel like it is my duty to try and find your inner voice, your own very personal way of expressing yourself through that language.

This is what music theory is. Not a repellent and scary subject!


And finally, would like to share a Bernstein video talking about the evolution of Harmony in the last century in 6 minutes. Enjoy this from a master!

Music shops in the area

Hi all


My name is Dominic Scohy and I’m providing piano lessons in Derby.

Today I would like to talk about useful places in Derby.

There is a list of music shops in Derbyshire and Nottingham.

Of course, there are probably a few shops that I will not mention here and the reason for that is that I speak about the one I know.


Foulds Piano shop

Foulds music shop logo

I’m going to introduce Foulds music shop to you, even if I don’t know if it will be really necessary!

Charles Foulds opened the first shop in Nottingham in 1893!

They rapidly had massive success and moved to Derby. Yes, Derby used to be a place to be for music scene!

Today the shop specializes in retailing all sorts of instruments, repairing, maintaining, a very large choice of sheets music and orchestral instruments.

Each member of the staff is a specialist in their area and all very good musicians.

They are really reliable and very good at their jobs.

Recently, the shop changed and a lot of new very exciting things started to happen.

First of all the shop will now be divided into 2. The piano shop is managed by the very nice Danny Jackson.

The shop will now specialize in piano, digital piano, sheet music, and orchestral instruments.

They are also looking for a new building to carry on with their activities.

Foulds music shop will be even more a central place for music as they will host events, masterclasses, concerts, workshops,…

Anything that can promote music life in Derby!

I couldn’t recommend them more!


Clements piano


Clement piano's logo




Clements is a very nice shop with a great showroom!

They have a massive choice of instruments there!

They are based in Nottingham and they are very easy people to talk to. whatever if you are a beginner or advanced, they always take the time you need to find the right instrument for you.

A few of my students have been there on my recommendation and they haven’t been disappointed at all!

I couldn’t recommend them more!

There is the link to their WEBSITE

Foulds guitar shop


I don’t have many things to say about them as they are not fully installed yet.

But just know that the guitar department of the actual Foulds music shop will be in a different building and that it will have a new manager.

I can’t say more for the moment, but all I can say is that it will be also a very nice and very active place for music!

As soon as the shop will open I will add information about it in this article.


Edward Knowles  piano tuner

Located in Belper, they specialize in piano tuning and piano maintenance.

They have a variety of seconds hand pianos that they restored themselves. It is a very good place to find a piano with a lot of “personality”.

They are really friendly and reliable as well.

Have a visit on their website, but it is better to have a look by yourself and pay them a little visit.


It is a small article about music shops in Derbyshire.


Before I conclude this article, I would like to give my point of view about buying online and in a music shop.

First of all, in a music shop, you can actually see and try the instrument you want to buy! This is a really important point!

Also, when a music shop is as specialize as Foulds is for example, then you know that their advice will be good and adapted to your profile.

Finally, if you buy a piano online and there is a default with it, good luck to contact the company and send back your instrument!

Trying your instrument before purchase is as important as trying clothes before you buy them, or a car!

That’s all folks!

Next article will be more related to piano playing, practice and my lessons.

Have fun!