Best Practices for Online Music Lessons
In order to make online lessons as effective as possible, here are some hints and best practices to provide the best experience for the student, teacher, and parent.
If you are new to online music lessons and would like help in testing out your lesson set up, feel free to contact me. I would be glad to discuss and help you with any configuration questions.
Rock Out Loud Live is the preferred video conferencing application. Zoom may used as a backup solution.
Other applications may be used in the future.
I will be hosting the online meeting, and the student will join the meeting. You will be provided a secure link and personal ID information for this studio.
STEP 1A: ROCK OUT LOUD LIVE - DOWNLOAD THIS APPLICATION ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICES OR TABLETS. YOU DO NOT NEED TO DOWNLOAD THIS ON YOUR COMPUTER, BUT MUST OPEN A CHROME INCOGNITO WINDOW TO RUN IT. PLEASE DOWNLOAD AN UPDATED COPY OF CHROME.
STEP 1B: ZOOM - GET THE ZOOM APPLICATION CLIENT ONTO YOUR DEVICE(S)
Please select a video conferencing compatible device (with camera) for use at your own home for lessons - this can be a phone, tablet, or computer. Ideally, a larger screen will be more useful for younger students as I will be demonstrating on the keyboard and showing detail of music. See STEP 2 for a description of a minimal and optimal setup.
STEP 2: SET UP YOUR DEVICE VIEW(s) FOR THE TEACHER (AND IDEALLY, A SEPARATE LARGE VIEW FOR THE STUDENT PLACED IN FRONT OF THEM)
As a teacher, I provide a multi-camera view for the student which may include:
Full view of myself and keyboard
Overhead keyboard view for demonstration
Side view for demonstrating hand positions
Music view for close up views of music, game playing, or staff notation and theory
Pedal and foot view
For the best possible student experience, two separate camera devices are preferred - one is for the teacher (to see the entire student playing - posture, hand positions, etc ...). The other is for the benefit of the student to clearly see in a larger format all the views that the teacher provides. To start, please provide the angled view for the teacher, but consider providing the second device for benefit of the student. Here is how to configure both of these.
An angled side view for the teacher (usually a phone, positioned so that the teacher can see the student, their hands on the keyboard from an angle)
Optional but highly recommended - A larger screen device for the student (tablet or computer placed at a forward position in front of the student) so that the student can see the teacher's keyboard view or other materials without having to look back and forth to the side camera.
Position your chosen teacher device for a side view of the student on either side of the piano so that a good view of both the keyboard and student is available. Ensure that there is adequate light for good resolution and that the student is not backlit or in shadow. A slightly elevated view (and slightly behind the student) helps the view of hands and keyboard.
When using two devices, disable the audio on one of them. Sometimes even with disabled audio, it may be necessary to lower the volume if there is feedback or distortion. Ideally, the audio should be enabled in the student view camera - the device that is front of the student.
When using two devices, BOTH must login to the lesson using the provided link.
Note: If you have a very young child and will be assisting during the lesson, please make sure that the device is positioned so that you too can move freely and see the teaching screen. You may choose to sit near or on the side of the student in your own chair.
STEP 3: PREP YOUR DEVICES AHEAD OF TIME & LIMIT COMPETITION FOR BANDWIDTH IF NECESSARY
Avoid unnecessary technical interruptions by ensuring the following:
Perform any necessary application updates before the lesson.
Limit competing high-bandwidth streaming devices in the household during the lesson. Depending on your home setup, other streaming conference calls, videos, or games on the same channel may degrade the audio and video of the lesson.
Ensure that any device is updated if necessary (or not scheduled to update during the lesson).
Ensure that your device is adequately charged and powered or plugged in during the lesson.
Ensure you are not too far from your wi-fi router or provide a hardwired connection
STEP 4: PREP YOUR ENVIRONMENT AHEAD OF TIME - GATHER MATERIALS
Miss Deborah will provide the assignment lesson notes in this online environment, but please have all lesson materials out and ready.
Because of audio processing protocols, a quiet environment during the lesson is a plus. Please ensure that there is low background noise - even normal background noise can distort or interfere with the audio.
Care should be taken to ensure that siblings, pets, or noisy appliances should not be
intrusive (either to the student’s attention) or as contributors to background noise.
Standard pencils and erasers, a set of colored pencils or yellow highlighter (and for young students, and crayons and paper are helpful for games) for marking music.
STEP 5A: OPTIMIZE FOR MUSIC AUDIO (ZOOM ONLY)
Zoom is not the preferred application for online lessons at this point in time. See STEP 5B for setting up for ROCK OUT LOUD LIVE. However, if Zoom is being employed and has not been used on your device you must download the client application and install it onto your device. You will be asked for a login to create an account and can use any of the standard login methods (email, google sign in etc ...).
Click here for an excellent video explaining the onboarding process for this application. You can skip the portion pertaining to hosting the meeting.
Once this is done, it will be easy to join your Zoom lesson meeting by just clicking on the provided URL link for Deborah's Piano Lessons (see above). Note: this link will be on your student web page for easy access.
For a better audio experience, if you are connecting via a computer or laptop (these settings may not be available for adjustment on a tablet or phone) please do the following within the Zoom menu for your audio device in "advanced settings":
"Original Sound" should be ON
"Automatically adjust microphone volume" should be unchecked
"Suppress persistent background noise" should be disabled
"Suppress intermittent background noise" should be disabled
"Echo cancellation" should be disabled
In certain cases, headphones may help with feedback issues.
STEP 5B: OPTIMIZE FOR MUSIC AUDIO (ROCK OUT LOUD LIVE) - PREFERRED
This application provides a superior audio experience both in terms of sound quality and in the real-time experience which allows more natural overlap of voice and duet playing! In terms of operation it appears much like Zoom, there is a waiting room, camera and audio options and various views. For the computer, you can access this application directly from your Chrome (Incognito) browser or from your student page (if running from a Chrome Incognito window). From a camera or tablet, you must download the application. Your teacher will provide the access credentials. For more information on trouble-shooting, click here.
STEP 6: BE PREPARED FOR START UP HITCHES AND GLITCHES!
It takes imagination and some adjustment to move from an "in person" to an online teaching strategy, for everyone, but particularly for very young students. Parental support for the young ones is essential.
An adjustment in both the environment and mindset will be needed to streamline an online experience. Both teacher and student may have to modify their interaction to a more “taking turns” style of speaking and response (because of the audio switching features on most conferencing applications) and adjust to the visual context switching between views on the
screen and back to the keyboard or music, and to those focusing on instruction vs demonstration.
Please note that with the increased demand for online education and remote working environments at this point, the capacity of systems both local and larger may be strained at various times of the year.