How to have an online music lesson

Online music lessons can be very effective if student and teacher have work spaces that are set up in the right way with the right equipment.  We can talk you through the fine details of set-up during your introductory session, but the important details are here.

Key things you will need are:

  1. Internet connection speed that’s fast enough for you to have smooth and easy video calls on video conferencing services such as Zoom.
  2. A laptop or tablet computer with an internet connection. A phone is not ideal because of the small screen, which it makes it difficult to see us demonstrate techniques or show you worksheets.  
  3. A way of supporting your computer or its camera in a good position so that we get a clear view of you and your instrument.

In addition, you might also want to consider:

  • Headphones make it much easier to hear the lesson clearly. They also eliminate the echo or fluttering sound that can otherwise develop in a video call.
  • A device to play recorded backing music for you to practise along to. This should not be the same as the device you use for the video call. Some people use a smart phone with an external loudspeaker. (We can’t play backing music while you play, because the internet has a slight lag, which puts everything out of sync.)
  • A metronome. This might well be a free metronome app on a phone or other device.

Position of your laptop / webcam

We need to be able to see you and your instrument as you play.  This requires a position that’s different from a your usual video conference with head and shoulders filling the screen. Instead:
Drums – the best view is from the side, ideally the hi-hat side, with the camera far enough away that it captures your feet on the pedals as well as your head and hands.

Piano – to the side and higher up than the keyboard. We need to be able to see your hands on the keyboard and your posture as you play.

Cello – the best view is from the front, with the camera far enough away to capture your instrument as far down as the bridge and up to the scroll.

Violin – we need to be able to see you and your hands on the instument as you play, which is best achieved if the camera is in front of you and slightly to your right.

Other considerations

  • It would be helpful to not have a window or strong light source directly behind you, as that would cause you appear just in silhouette.
  • Please minimise distractions and noise during the lesson.
  • Please join the Zoom meeting promptly, as starting late may mean a shorter lesson as we move on to our next timetabled student.
  • Occasionally there are difficulties with the internet link or with other aspects of the technology. If this happens it is often quickly resolved. If not, it will usually be possible to convene some replacement lesson time.

For safety and security

  • The Zoom meeting will have a waiting room even if we don’t set a password. That means that nobody can accidentally join the meeting unless we let them in.
  • Everyone in the lesson space or passing the camera needs to be modestly dressed.
  • For lessons with children:

– The device used for the meeting must be an adult’s rather than the child’s,
– A parent or other adult needs to be present at the start of the meeting. They will ideally stay with us, but may choose or pop in and out of the room if the child is mature enough to be unsupervised. It is very helpful to have an adult present at the end of the lesson to ensure that there are adequate notes of learning objectives for the coming week.