Tonebase Review: The Ultimate Learning Platform for Classical Musicians
Find out everything you need to know about the website’s course offer in our tonebase review.
Recent years have seen a real boom in online music learning platforms, and for good reason.
Websites such as Zebra Keys, GuitarCompass, and InsidePiano have made it easier than ever for people to pick up valuable music skills from the comfort of their own homes, at their own pace and convenience. Compared to in-person practice sessions, remote lessons are also considered a more affordable option for learning how to play an instrument.
Founded in 2017, tonebase (and yes, it’s written with a small t) leans on the familiar concept of simple, easy-to-follow video-based instrument lessons. But, it also adds a Masterclass-esque twist; all the lessons in its library come from world-class experts. The platform has every right to boast when it comes to its line-up of instructors, which includes Philadelphia Orchestra’s concertmaster David Kim, Debussy connoisseur Jean-Yves Thibadeut, and guitar legend Pepe Romero — to name just a few.
This “all-star” approach is a lot more than just an attention-grabber; it’s at the very core of tonebase’s mission statement. In the words of the platform’s co-founder Igor Lichtman, tonebase aims “to democratize high-level music education around the world”.
In this review, we’ll cover tonebase’s core features and major benefits, the platform’s ease of use, and pricing options, as well as list some user testimonials.
Back in 2017, tonebase started out as a classical guitar learning platform. Today, its extensive library covers lessons on piano, violin, and cello as well.
The platform hosts over a thousand video lessons on how to play these instruments, covering essential playing techniques and interpretation tips.
Organized into courses, these lessons are made with various skill levels in mind; however, most of tonebase’s library will best serve intermediate and advanced players, not beginners. This is because many of the lessons presume the user already has a working knowledge of the instrument and technical skills of at least intermediate capacity. While the platform certainly also offers instructional material to help aspiring musicians build their skills from scratch, that kind of foundational work is much harder to successfully deliver and implement remotely.
Still, those looking to iron out their technique will find plenty of useful guides for that, with core exercises such as scales, arpeggios, and etudes.
So, to get the best possible results out of tonebase, we recommend already having a grasp of your chosen instrument and an idea of the general direction you want to develop in. Then, you’ll be able to derive a ton of value from the platform’s experts’ talks, as artists such as Garrick Ohlsson and Augustin Hadelich share insightful tips and quality advice that can help you elevate your understanding of your instrument, or of a certain composer’s work.
For example, we’re big fans of Sahel Redzic’s talk on Bach’s Cello Suite no. 1:
To learn more about tonebase’s guitar instructors and some of the best lessons there, check out our review of tonebase’s guitar course offer.
Smartly, tonebase has avoided becoming a classical-only learning platform.
While the majority of the teachers on tonebase do focus on exploring pieces by Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, the platform also offers interesting courses on how to play music outside the purview of the classical canon. Led by renowned artists like Laura Snowden and Gilles Apap, these lessons introduce users to extended techniques and unique styles associated with folk musics from around the world: from Irish fiddle to Spanish flamenco.
Apart from the video lessons themselves, tonebase also offers additional content to its users. This includes:
piano, guitar, and violin focused blogs,
piano and guitar focused podcasts,
lesson notes with key exercises and essential takeaways,
and workbooks about topics ranging from tips on playing scales and arpeggios to pre-performance checklists.
Tonebase also pays special attention to nurturing and growing its online community. The platform’s instructors regularly host AMAs, and there are also live workshops and group challenges focused on studying pillars of classical repertoire – such as, for example, Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
Finally, another thing that makes tonebase stand out from its competition is the friendliness of the website’s design.
Tonebase Ease of Use
Contrary to some other music education websites, tonebase’s user interface feels fresh, modern, and easy to understand.
Each lesson is delivered through an interactive video; the right-hand side of the screen shows the score, while you can follow the instructor’s talk on the left. The videos also allow you to zoom in on the score or individual parts, take notes, or add bookmarks to important points.
Here is a snapshot of how it works and looks:
Special care has also been devoted to the lessons’ audio production. The crisp recordings of the instructors’ playing demonstrate a clear understanding of the importance of the course’s quality of sound.
Tonebase’s website already spotlights some of their most shining reviews – and you can check them all out right there. However, we also wanted to take a peek at what people in other corners of the web are saying, as well.
Here’s what we found:
“Tonebase channel has been an amazing recent discovery. The amount of musical insight available here is astounding.” – sehetw, Twitter
“Tonebase has some really good videos. As a professional, I’m constantly revisiting basics and always honing in on little issues – and a lot of the basics videos are really great – especially as my teaching career gets deeper and deeper.” – Astrnougat, r/violinist
“I’ve just signed up and so far I’m really happy with the quality and variation of the videos. There’s a good range of players and composers to learn from. I’m a more advanced player and have already started on changes to my playing technique, phrasing and understanding of pieces. Would recommend.” – Calvin Beadle, Facebook
“Beautifully explained and so helpful for someone like me who has struggled with the guitar for 40 years !” – Sean Kavanagh, YouTube
“I’ve been a tonebase subscriber for about the past year or so. It is a fantastic platform in my opinion. They have an impressive roster of performers/educators. Some of the lessons are masterclasses and some of them are just tutorials on pieces by the performer. They regularly add new content. I particularly enjoy Garrick Ohlsson’s lessons.” – benjamink, Piano World Forum
“This is what a “masterclass” should be! Intimate, dynamic, and communicative. Not a “maestro” dictating to a muted student.” – stylewarning, YouTube
Tonebase Review Summary
Tonebase offers over a thousand video lessons covering essential playing techniques, interpretation tips, and music theory for piano, guitar, and violin.
The platform is best suited for intermediate and advanced players.
The lessons are diverse, covering both classical and non-classical music.
The website design is modern and user-friendly, with interactive videos that include a music score and presenter’s tape.
Additional content includes blogs, podcasts, a score library, lesson notes, workbooks, and community forums.
Ready to try out tonebase for yourself and grow your music skills? Sign up now and get a discount on your subscription with our promo code: MORDENTS.