By Shelly Simon
Lessonface is the future. As people become more and more mobile, the capacity for in person experiences is challenged. Luckily since 2013, Lessonface has implemented the power of the Internet to create musical opportunities for thousands of teachers and students worldwide. Based in NYC, this team is small but strong. Tom Tom got the opportunity to “pick” the brain of badass educator and entrepreneur of Lessonface, Claire Cunningham.
Lessonface provides an accessible booking, messaging, scheduling, and learning system. Using a computer or tablet with a webcam and a reliable internet connection, you can find, message, book, and meet your ideal teacher from wherever you are all in a few clicks. Designed to be fun and safe for all ages, it’s the perfect class for anyone looking to explore or enhance their musical abilities.
They take the time to vet all the teachers on the Lessonface site and enforce common sense policies. This practice is so important because it ensures that the lessons and classes can be operated well and fairly on all sides. At Lessonface, a principal goal is for both teachers and students to have the appropriate tools at hand to focus on the opportunities ahead: aka learning music and building up a skill-set.
There’s percussion, mixing, acting, mastering, general theory, gospel piano, ukulele, french horn and more! Teachers of these courses range from all ages, backgrounds and genres so you’re not stuck with a Bruce Springsteen proto-type who insists on only teaching you “Smoke on the Water.”
Lessonface is headquartered in the West Village of New York City. Not only do they host online classes, there’s also seminars, workshops, group classes and small concerts hosted in their studio. Most of our NYC-based events can also be attended remotely via live streaming video. Check out the upcoming event schedule as well as what they have to offer at Lessonface!
TT: Hey Claire! How did you get involved in Lessonface?
CC: Hi! I started Lessonface in 2012. Video conferencing was becoming really easy and normal and it seemed like there would be a need for people who wanted to find teachers for lessons outside of their local area; especially for unusual instruments and genres. My background is in entrepreneurship in educational technology, publishing, and accommodations; and Lessonface has called on all of those experiences.
TT: This is a newer market to navigate through – how do you approach that?
CC: With a lot of experimentation, and a lot of careful listening to our student and teacher users.
TT: Do you play an instrument? If so what do you play!
CC: Mandolin a little, though not very well. I’m still working on it.
TT: What does the future look like for Lessonface?
CC: I expect we’ll see more and more students connecting to more teachers for education and inspiration. We grew a whole lot in 2017 and I expect that to continue through 2018 and beyond. In the near future — lots of great classes like Sara Landeau’s Chicks with Picks and LaFrae Sci’s Explorations in Groove are starting in January! Plus, we always see a ton of new students in the new year looking for wintery hobbies, to fulfill new year’s resolutions, or to put a newly gifted instrument to use; so this is a fun time of year for us.
TT: It’s refreshing to see teachers of all different ages, genders and genres teaching on your site. It allows for students of all different dynamics and backgrounds to feel more comfortable trying something new. How do you recruit your teachers?
CC: Honestly it’s the most natural outcome of doing an online music lessons site; being that music is a universal language where we can speak across ages, cultures, and geographic boundaries. I love that. That said, we have consciously tried to make sure that we recruit where we fall short in terms of representation; and I know there are some areas where we could be doing better. Most of our teachers come through online and offline word of mouth. We also ask for referrals, administer searches on & off-line, and reach out to people where we see a lack in our coverage. If any of your readers are interested in teaching with us they can read about the qualifications and how it works here.
TT: What are some favorite bands among the Lessonface team? Or most memorable show? (These responses are in order from left to right based off of the header photo of the Lessonface staff; standing in front of their West Village studio last summer)
Yonit Spiegelman: Villagers
Kelly Leprohon: Verite and Lights
Claire Cunningham: Most memorable (somewhat recent) shows: Shannon and the Clams, Alex Cameron
Ashford Tucker: Most memorable recent show: John Cale at BAM Brooklyn
TT: If you could choose one politician to take lessons at Lessonface- who would it be?
CC: If Kamala Harris is not already a musician, we at Lessonface would be delighted to connect her to an amazing teacher to remedy that.