Online oasis: Best Music Coach offers web-based instrument lessons

Best Music Coach owner Dan Spencer teaches guitar online using the Zoom App. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — The chance to connect and try to mold students into musicians online has always resonated with Dan Spencer. Plus, since there is no need for him or his students to travel, it is cost-effective.

Even though Mr. Spencer obviously didn’t see the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the horizon or Gov. John Carney’s stay-at-home order coming when he started his Best Music Coach online business after moving from New Jersey to Dover in 2018, it could be a great distraction — and possibly a lasting passion — during these uncertain times as people try to find something to do while stuck in the house.

“Online music lessons are the new normal,” Mr. Spencer said. “Best Music Coach is fortunate to bring the joy of music into the hearts and homes of so many families across the nation. There is an ongoing increase in sign-ups, website traffic and general interest in what we offer.

“Parents are looking for enriching activities for their children and see the value not only in our music lessons, but the added academic benefits of concentrated musical study outside of the lesson time.”

Mr. Spencer, who can play five different instruments proficiently, offers lessons from beginners on up in acoustic and electric guitar, voice, piano, ukulele, electric bass, music theory and ear training.

“Students at Best Music Coach select singing, guitar and piano the most out of all the subjects we offer,” he said. “This is because our students enjoy playing their favorite songs, and they like their favorite songs to sound similar to the original recording. Our students most easily recreate their favorite songs by singing the song, playing the guitar or piano part of the song, or combining singing and playing at the same time.”

The online music lessons take place over video conferencing software like Skype or Zoom. Mr. Spencer and his student have the same music and songs in front of them and it allows the half-hour lesson to flow as it would in person.

He said he takes notes of what the student worked on in their lesson and then emails his observations to them, which gives them an idea of what they need to concentrate on the most during their practice time in order to improve.

One lesson at Best Music Coach is $30 each; however, he sells a package of five lessons for $25 for each session and 60-minute lessons at $55 each and a package of five for $50 each. He offers a 15-percent discount to the military.

“I had the idea for Best Music Coach during my relocation to Dover in 2018,” Mr. Spencer said. “I started teaching music online years ago for national and international online tutoring companies. After several years of experiencing the strengths and weaknesses of different websites and methods, I knew there was a better way and Best Music Coach was born.

“Fortunately, since I have over 10 years of experience teaching music to students of all ages and experience levels, it was a pretty quick start, growing from day one of teaching. Most people who try our first lesson promotion end up staying students for months and years as they grow in their musical abilities, dreams and goals.”

Most of Mr. Spencer’s students are children between ages 6 and 14, or older adults. He teaches any student, no matter what their ambitions are.

He said he knew that Dover would be the perfect market for his small business when he studied the area and decided to make his move.
“The climate and attitude towards business in Delaware, combined with the amazing resources at the Division of Small Business (DOSB) and Small Business Development Center (SBDC) were a huge draw,” he said. “I love Dover because of the friendly, genuine people. I also love Dover because it features the perfect blend of urban, commercial, suburban, agricultural, and nature settings. It is all here.”

Finding an EDGE

The state of Delaware also saw potential in Mr. Spencer’s vision, as Best Music Coach was among 10 businesses statewide to be selected in the second round of EDGE Grants to be awarded from the Division of Small Business back in January.

“It is incredible to see what the innovative entrepreneurs in this state are accomplishing,” Gov. John Carney said when the grants were awarded. “Their companies span a wide range of industries, but the one thing the owners share is the drive and determination necessary to start, then grow their businesses. I am glad the state is able to support their work through initiatives like the EDGE Grant program.”

Mr. Spencer’s small business was awarded $35,829 through the program.

“The two projects that are funded by the EDGE grant are a new website for www.bestmusiccoach.com and the publication of three music books for our students,” he said. “Those projects are in the works and I am so excited to share them with the world in the coming months.

“Best Music Coach was fortunate enough to receive a matching grant from Kent County, and part of that is being put to use as we speak to reach music students across the country, to let them know we are currently providing fully customizable online music lessons for ages 6 (through) adult.”

It is that kind of support that Mr. Spencer hopes will eventually allow him to add more teachers and have streaming lessons that his students can use as resources.

A life filled with music

It’s been an amazing musical journey for the teacher, which goes back to visiting his grandmother years ago when he was just six years old.

“She had an old guitar with three or four rusty strings — while guitars are supposed to have six, non-rusty strings,” he said, with a laugh. “I sat down and played that guitar for what seemed like hours. I kept talking about the guitar to my mom and dad, and eventually was given a choice for my birthday present that year — a guitar or a Lego set.

“I could not make up my mind, until one evening we drove past a guitar store and I saw the rows of guitars in the shop window, all lit up and shiny. I chose the guitar and began guitar lessons soon after.”

He added that it is not a good idea to play guitars with rusty strings and he’ll gladly teach anyone to change them themselves.

It turned out that day at his grandmother’s house had a profound and lasting effect on his life, which didn’t surprise him considering he comes from a family of artists and teachers.

“Music has made me a better person, more aware of my actions and how they affect others,” he said. “Music has also kept me sharp. It has been scientifically shown that music lessons can help move students almost one academic year ahead of their peers.”

Now he is offering the same chance to help others fall in love with an instrument which “can change a life.”

With everybody ordered to stay home during the coronavirus outbreak, there may not be a better time to take up an instrument than now.
“One thing that seems to stop students from signing up are unanswered questions like, ‘How long will it take for me to learn my first song,’ or, ‘I want to sing, but am I tone-deaf,’” Mr. Spencer said. “Answering these questions takes away the uncertainty around taking music lessons.

“If you have the desire to try music out for fun, or to potentially pursue music as a career, your journey starts with one small action. People are welcome to reach out to us at lessons@bestmusiccoach.com, get started and let’s make some music.”


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 1 guidance

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