Online music lessons are becoming more and more commonplace, from piano tuition to clarinet recitals, teachers across the world are now relying on online video hosting services to stay in contact with their students. As new techniques continue to emerge, it can be incredibly confusing to stay ahead of the curve!
To help you out, we’ve written out a few quick tips in order to help you improve your lessons and enhance yours and your student’s online playing experience.
1) Make sure your instruments are tuned the same!
It may sound obvious, but this is an issue that our piano tuning technicians are encountering more frequently as teachers begin moving online. As both teacher and student usually play on one instrument, it’s easy to think that your instrument is in tune, but more teachers are discovering that when playing along with a students piano that the two sound completely out of tune with each other. This makes playing along with each other almost impossible.
The answer. Get your piano(s) tuned to standard pitch tuning. Many pianists find that their pianos are ‘in tune with themselves’. Whilst this makes playing alone absolutely fine and usable, more often than not, when trying to play along with another instrument, the sound won’t quite match, so a ‘C’ on one piano will not sound the same on one tuned to a different pitch. We aim to tune all of our pianos to standard (A440) tuning, so you know that you’ll be able to play along without issue.
2) Check The Wifi Connection Is Strong Enough.
Another obvious one and one you'll come across quickly if something is wrong! It's just a matter of fact that a relatively strong internet connection is needed to host virtual lessons. Unlike browsing the internet, video streaming requires a lot of data to be passing through your device. Audio, video, synchronising, the list goes on! If you are having issues with your wifi, a great place to start would be resetting your router but is simply turning it off and back on, yes sometimes it really can be that simple!
If that doesn’t quite work, run a speed test. Your broadband provider package may not be fully enhanced for live video conversation. If you are experiencing regular audio drops, screen freezing or out of sync conversations, you’ll want to be sure that you and your student are on suitable internet speeds. A speed of 3-5MB is the minimum required speed for fully cohesive video streaming.
3. Keeping Your Microphone Far Enough Away
Another big one that we hear quite often is teachers or students saying that they struggle hearing the intricate details of their lesson. Whilst it’s true that it is almost impossible to transmit those subtle tones of a piano over a virtual medium without a rather expensive and extensive microphone set up, sometimes even just moving your device a little further away from your piano could be the answer.
Ultimately this one comes down to a little trial and error, but try keeping at least a metres or two away from the piano to avoid any sound peaking on your device. If your sound is peaking, it’s too close, if it’s not loud enough, it’s too far away!
4. Webcam angle - 90 degrees
Struggling with your students not being able to see what you’re doing?
We also get asked frequently what the best angle for teaching might be. Whilst an overhead view might be the best in terms of demonstrating, this does remove almost all of the personality from your lesson. Instead we have found that a side on, 90 degree angle that is ever so slightly pointing down towards the piano, or instrument, is best for both having conversations and playing. In order to achieve this, you can either balance your phone, tablet or webcam on a pile of books or boxes, or invest in a cheap and cheerful phone tripod.
5. Piano Learning Apps - Forscore.
A final great addition to enhancing your online lessons would be to make use of handy softwares such as Forscore for IOS.
Forscore is a fantastic app that is designed to make online piano lessons personal, seamless and easy for students to follow. The programme allows you to load in sheet music and even make annotations on a copy so your students can see your notes in real time. This can be an absolute blessing when discussing intricacies of music or attempting to direct along with your students, adding clarity and ease to your lessons.
The only downsides to this app is that it would require both you to have access to an additional apple device, such as an ipad, iphone or macbook during your lessons, however if you’ve got one of those to spare, we’d definitely recommend it. All annotated scores and files can also be directly emailed to your student at the end of your lessons too!
For more information on ForScore, check out this review and guide!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide and have learnt a thing or two about enhancing your video lessons! If you’d like any further information or tips, our team are on hand and here to help!