Learning Music Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

How to Access the Education You Need Without Breaking the Bank

 stiched songwriters

You may have seen a discussion on the news this week based on the Musicians Union findings that children in lower income houses are less likely to learn an instrument than their more affluent counter parts, despite the same level of interest. There are so many repercussions of this: learning music has developmental, social and personal benefits to offer any child, no matter their level of talent. For the music industry as a whole, it could lead to less diversity and to a lack of growth. There is no denying that learning music can be expensive, but if you want a career in music education is the only way forward. Success in any field means acquiring skills and being properly informed. I myself paid a huge sum of money to study for my Master of Music degree and have never regretted it because without that study I would not have the career I currently enjoy. There are ways of accessing education and training that are affordable, however, and if your budget is tight I would like to tell you about a few of them.


You can do it for cheap… but not for free

 optional to pay


I received this message about a year ago via Skype. It was from a student who had booked in for his free first lesson and seemed to want me to work for free after that. I replied that just as you would pay a plumber or a taxi driver, I do have to be paid! When my mobile phone provider or electricity supplier stop charging me, then I can work for free. It was the most insulting missive I have received in 15 years of teaching. The guy then told me he would go and learn on YouTube. I can see the attraction of that but it’s a very bad idea. Not everyone on YouTube is properly qualified and there are some exercises out there that could damage your voice. Plus, you get no feedback on your progression. There is no logical sequence to your learning, no practice resources…. And most of the people posting free videos are doing so in the hope that if you like them, you will sign up to their paid services.

If you want to learn online, video courses offer a cheaper alternative to private tuition. Other benefits are that you can learn at your own pace, you keep the videos so you can revisit them and you can contact the instructor and ask questions and receive feedback. Many music teachers provide online learning platforms (mine is here). You can also learn music on major e-learning sites such as Udemy, SkillShare and Of Course.


Another cheaper alternative to private lessons are group and community classes. In Belfast there is a great organisation called Andersonstown Traditional and Contemporary Music School which makes learning music affordable for families. It is likely your local community college, church hall or community centre has similar groups and courses. The benefits of learning in a group are that it’s sociable, and you will probably practice so that you don’t look silly in front of the group! It also feels a bit less daunting knowing that other people are just starting, too.


If you really want one to one lessons and are afraid to commit financially, many music teachers offer a refer a friend scheme where you get a free lesson by referring someone else. You could also ask if it’s possible to book 2 or 3 people into the lesson and share the cost. I’m always happy to do this.


These are just a few ideas! Don’t let money be the reason you don’t fulfil your potential: there are many different ways to access music education.


If you have any questions or queries about anything in this article, feel free to email me.

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