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Learning a to play an instrument is a great experience — not only is it a lot of fun, but science shows that it’s good for your brain, too. But getting music lessons can be expensive.
So why not try out some of these free online music lesson courses? You can learn at your own pace, go through each lesson as many times as you want, and not pay a dime.
Justin Sandercoe is a Tasmanian guitarist and songwriter who’s been offering free guitar lessons on his website since 2003. In the past 12 years, the site has exploded in popularity, racking up over 140 million views on YouTube and getting over 25,000 visitors each day. He’s been called “one of the most influential guitar teachers in history,” and a number of guitar greats have recommended his site.
JustinGuitar.com will walk you through the most basic principles of playing guitar from the very beginning.
The beginner’s course includes videos on commonly asked questions, the parts of a guitar, good posture, holding a pick, and basic chords. From there, you can progress through beginner and intermediate play-alongs, genre-specific lessons, classic solos, ear training, rhythm, tips on recording gear, and more.
There are hundreds of lessons to help you build up to being a guitar master (or at least playing your favorite songs). Because Justin offers these lessons for free, he asks for donations and that you buy some of his products, so if you decide to use JustinGuitar.com, support him if you can!
And don’t forget to download one of these Android apps for learning the guitar on the go.
Kris Rodgers, aka Dmanlamius, has built a solid following of bass learners on YouTube and offers a wealth of lessons via his website; you can follow the lesson tree from the easiest lessons to the most technical, or you can pick and choose from the list of exercises or popular songs.
Don’t miss out on the Riff of The Week, where you can learn a new bass line each week. Rodgers also has a number of practice beats for you to use, which is a lot more interesting than just practicing with a metronome.
Dmanlamius also offers a number of downloadable lessons, as well as a tuition book that you can work through to improve your bass skills. As always, please support the site if you use it regularly!
Free Bass Lessons is his YouTube channel with bass reviews, answers to questions from readers, and a collection of some of his favorite videos.
DrumLessons.com, run by the guys at Drumeo, contains dozens of drum lessons that are rated by level, making it easy to pick and choose the beginner, intermediate, and advanced lessons you’d like to learn. It includes stick technique, setting up your kit, practice pad routines, drum rudiments, basic beats and fills, notation and counting, and other basics lead into rock, metal, and punk lessons, as well as advanced complex rhythms and creativity.
No matter what sort of music you’re into — rock, punk, metal, soul, funk — there are free lessons here to help you learn it. I’ve been using this site for the past couple years, and I can vouch for the fantastic quality of the instruction, as well as the very easy-to-follow videos (the on-screen notes and drum highlighting make it very easy to see what’s happening and translate it to your own kit).
To help keep the site afloat, consider signing up for a Drumeo account, which gets you access to all of the lessons, personalized lesson plans, extra play-along songs, and community support. You can also support DrumLessons.com by buying a DVD package.
Piano: Hoffman Academy
Many people would like to learn to play the piano, and Hoffman Academy is a great place to start. Joseph Hoffman is a lifelong pianist, and has experience in conducting, composing, and music teaching. His venerable experience helps make Hoffman Academy one of the best places to learn to play the piano online.
The Academy offers 100 lessons, many of which have multiple parts, as well as a few bonus lessons. You’ll start from the very beginning, with the first lesson covering how to find the high and low keys on the piano, the pattern of white and black keys, and how to play your first simple song. Later lessons include eighth and quarter notes, reading sheet music, improvising, scales, and song composition. Materials for each unit are available for purchase, as well.
A three-instrument music tutor, Dan Christian is a great teacher, and his website focused on sax lessons will help you get started down the path toward jazz (or blues, or rock, or hip-hop) stardom. While there aren’t as many lessons available here as there are on some of the other websites on this list, the selection is good and will help you learn the basics.
You can find song playthroughs, workouts, and videos of performances so you can see how the pros play. Christian offers a number of resources, both free and paid, and also offers sax lessons via Skype.
The violin is a perfect place to start if you want to lean an elegant instrument. The Fiddlerman has all the lessons you need to get going. Holding the violin, holding the bow, applying rosin, puling the bow across the strings, finger placement, vibrato, jazz improvisation, musical dynamics, playthroughs . . . you have everything that you need to go from complete beginner to violin enthusiast.
The site also includes other useful resources, including rhythm counting and violin fingering games, a fingerboard chart, a tuner, a metronome, free sheet music, and a blog where you can keep up with Fiddlerman’s thoughts. There are no premium lessons, but if you want to support the site, you can shop at Fiddlershop.com for violins, accessories, music, and more.
Bagpipes: Bagpipe Master
Want to play something that no one else you know plays? Try the bagpipes! Josh the Bagpipe Master is — surprisingly — from Salt Lake City, but has been playing for the past 20 years. His seven lessons and seven play-alongs will get you started along the path to bagpipe stardom.
Josh also has an e-book for sale, fittingly titled How to Play the Bagpipe.
What Will You Learn?
Whether you’re looking to learn the guitar, bass, drums, piano, saxophone, violin, bagpipes, or anything else, there are free online music lessons that will help you do it. They can be your initiation into the wonderful world of music.
Have you tried any of these sites? Do you have others to recommend? Which instrument would you like to learn? Share your thoughts below!
Image Credit: close up of male hands playing piano via Shutterstock.