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Online lessons for advanced student viable?
#2782708 11/19/18 11:25 PM
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Hi,

Lately I've been interested in taking piano lessons again some years after taking private lessons in college. I'd consider myself an advanced student, roughly conservatory-level (though I've never been to conservatory so I'm just guessing).

I've recently found a concert pianist who has started offering online lessons (in-person lessons are impossible for me due to geography).

My goals are to understand and perform pieces at a very high level, just for personal enjoyment (not for competitions or recitals or anything).

Do any of you have experience teaching piano for advanced students solely online (or perhaps have been the student), and would you recommend it as a viable option?

Some other considerations: I do not own an acoustic piano, and instead have a digital hybrid piano that I usually play while running VST software through it.


Youtube piano recordings (classical music/video games/anime): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh9N3Xirs86USDQXE1WiwXg
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Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
rach3master #2782719 11/20/18 01:12 AM
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FWIW --

IMHO, you're asking the wrong question, to the wrong audience. The right question is something like:

. . . Would _I_ be able to learn what I want to learn, online, from _this_ teacher ?

And the best way to answer that question, is to take a few lessons, online, from him.

I recently gave some technical help to someone who was setting-up for Skype lessons. Some of it was fiddly, but as I remember, a new microphone (for the student's voice), and an inexpensive mixer (to get both the student's voice, and the piano, into the same Skype input device) was all that was necessary.

Since you're using a VST, there shouldn't be any serious technical issues. And if your teacher has other Skype students, he should be able to help you out.

Try it for a few lessons, and see how it goes. And report back, one way or the other.

Thanks -


. Charles
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Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
rach3master #2782740 11/20/18 05:28 AM
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There are some recorded examples on You Tube, of piano lessons done using Skype. They may proof useful as you look further into this option.

Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
Charles Cohen #2783035 11/21/18 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
FWIW --

IMHO, you're asking the wrong question, to the wrong audience. The right question is something like:

. . . Would _I_ be able to learn what I want to learn, online, from _this_ teacher ?

Very well said.

IMO in person lessons are good to teach technique. If you don't need technical guidance any more and you intend to work mostly on interpretations and sound quality, then online lessons seem to be a very good option for you.

Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
rach3master #2783132 11/21/18 11:40 AM
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I teach Online.. some advanced students.. and just a couple of opinions. 1) One must have high speed transmission on both sides --I upped mine to Sonic Fiber 1000mpbs.. but such a significantly high level is not a requirement. Yet speeds that are quite low, can cause pauses, shutdowns in some cases whether by Skype or Face Time (the latter is a Mac application)
2) Camera views should be tested and set --a web cam at least allows for more of a view adjustment-I use Logitech web cams--I have a few keyboard views but basically find the side overhead angle as the best. 3) Call Recorder for Skype and separately for Face time is valuable both for a student and teacher. You can record a whole lesson or segments of lessons in progress with a choice of three different playback perspectives: split screen, Remote, Local. 4) As for quality of sound and video, all depends on factors related to location of student and teacher--and what server can provided a maximum platform to conduct Online lessons.
Here in Berkeley, CA we have been recently transitioned to the sonic fiber.. I previously used Comcast which did not have consistent upload and download speeds even with its pricey monthly rates. At and T was not much better. In some rural communities, the Internet service may not be up to snuff. As far as good transmission, my Face Time student in Edinburgh has fiber optic, so the match with my server works well. I think lots can be accomplished in the teaching/learning environment under the right conditions. I would say my Skype to Portugal, however, is not as clear at it could be. Hope this is helpful. If you are thinking of engaging an Online teacher, make sure to have a test lesson to evaluate the transmission.

Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
Charles Cohen #2783192 11/21/18 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen

I recently gave some technical help to someone who was setting-up for Skype lessons. Some of it was fiddly, but as I remember, a new microphone (for the student's voice), and an inexpensive mixer (to get both the student's voice, and the piano, into the same Skype input device) was all that was necessary.

That was me, and I owe you a humongous thanks for the excellent help you gave me. smile

I also have a digital piano. I have a sound mixer (XenyxQ802USB) which feeds the information into the computer. A cable feeds from the appropriate port in the piano into the USB port of the mixer. I then purchased a clip-on (Lavalier) microphone - the XLR kind, because this goes into the mixer which adds power to it to boost the sound (there's a three-pin receptacle for that). So my voice and the piano's sound go directly into the mixer, with no ambient sound from the room, and the mixer sends that to the computer, which sends it to my teacher. I chose a "cardioid" microphone which captures sound mostly in front of it, rather than "surround sound" though I debated that one. You have to experiment where you place it on you.

So all that sends to my teacher. My camera is a Logitech, like Shirely. It feeds into the computer, and I have it set up so that the sound comes from my mixer, and the video comes from the camera. (the sound captured from the camera is horrid). At present, I have my teacher's voice feeding into the room from speakers. I could probably change that but am lazy.

Controls of which audio gets chosen are usually on the bottom of your computer screen, if you right click for settings.

We switched from Skype to Google Hangouts, which has an option (studio?) better suited to music. Skype had put in an "ambient noise filter" geared for talking, and it filtered out long notes! You'd play a whole note with pedal, and it was received as staccato.

A note about working remotely with a teacher: It does not have to be "a less personal attempt at duplicating in-studio lessons". You lose some things, but you also gain other options. For example, I also record videos and audio and send them to my teacher, because this gets rid of any distortions you get over the ether. You can exchange written material over a cloud service like Dropbox. It is up to your teacher how he or she usually handles these things.

As others have said, setup is ultra important. Your teacher may tell you what s/he wants to see or hear.

Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
shirlkirsten #2783194 11/21/18 03:56 PM
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Shirley, a question:
Originally Posted by shirlkirsten
.... -I use Logitech web cams--I have a few keyboard views but basically find the side overhead angle as the best.

I have thought of investing in more than one camera so that I can switch views from left to right, for example. But when I looked into it some years ago, I remember the Logitech site, or discussions on Logitech, were saying that the software didn't support that. I access the camera through Logitech's software and haven't found a way around that (assuming that L itself is limited).

Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
rach3master #2783200 11/21/18 04:33 PM
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I use a Yeti Mic (USB connected) Never use the Logitech sound option. It has a low threshold for the hot zone. So LogitechC920HD1080 (for video) without needing software in my case, combined with Yeti or blue mic. I have never had to run a program for my Logitech webcams.

Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
rach3master #2783206 11/21/18 04:43 PM
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The Yeti was the other microphone that I was considering at the time, and I almost opted for that one. From everything I heard, it is extremely good. I have watched quite a few of your teaching videos (excellent stuff btw!) and the sound comes out very well. Had I not discovered that the clip-on type microphone had an XLR version, I would have gotten the Yeti. I'm not sure that the cardioid was the right option, because placement has to be more precise. The omnidirection might pick up more surrounding sound, but if you turn your head probably that will be picked up more.

Um- If remember correctly, you use an acoustic piano. If I had an acoustic,I'd use the Yeti because obviously the clip-on would not pick up the piano very well. But with a digital piano and cable, that other option is a good one. The only down side is that with a clip on, if you have to get up for some reason, you have to unclip yourself from your tether. wink

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So LogitechC920HD1080 (for video) without needing software in my case, combined with Yeti or blue mic. I have never had to run a program for my Logitech webcams.

So when you used more than one camera, you ended up with some kind of interface somewhere that lets you choose which view / camera? If you don't need any software, then I'm thinking that Logitech's system itself is providing it for you. Maybe the info I got was outdated.

Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
keystring #2783239 11/21/18 06:26 PM
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Yes, I can switch cam views and keep Yeti mic setting.. no software needed once again.. not even years ago when I purchased my first Logitech cam.. goes back to 2011 at least. But I had to switch to a higher grade Logitech when my Mac was upgraded back when. I used to have something like a 615 model.. not as good as C920..Price has come down 50% by the way on C920. They claim to have an upgrade that has a WIDER view which is not necessary given my satisfaction with what I have.

Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
rach3master #2783251 11/21/18 07:18 PM
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Thank you, Shirley. Quite helpful.

Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
rach3master #2783745 11/23/18 02:36 PM
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I dont see how this makes any sense at all. If you do something wrong with your hands, wrists, etc etc they would never know it without some real good camera angles and multiple angles at that. I've been corrected on my technique from when I was younger that absolutely changed my playing forever. It changed my tone, my tension level. An online teacher never would have picked up on that.

Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
kokatla #2783750 11/23/18 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by GoodCuzStub
I dont see how this makes any sense at all. If you do something wrong with your hands, wrists, etc etc they would never know it without some real good camera angles and multiple angles at that. I've been corrected on my technique from when I was younger that absolutely changed my playing forever. It changed my tone, my tension level. An online teacher never would have picked up on that.

One thing to consider is that the OP says he/she is an advanced student and we're probably assuming that the OP already has the technique and is looking at things like interpretation. This may not be an issue.

In regard to your concern, it is correct that it's a lot harder to get at physical technique at a distance, and for the reasons you mentioned. But it is not totally impossible. What is worse is being live in a studio with a teacher who doesn't have much an idea: if you can get a teacher with a good eye and the right knowledge, it's best to be in the same room with that teacher. But if that is not possible, and there is no teacher or only a poorish one locally, this can indeed help a student and bring the student forward. Some of us have experienced both of these things.

Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
kokatla #2783757 11/23/18 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by GoodCuzStub
I dont see how this makes any sense at all. If you do something wrong with your hands, wrists, etc etc they would never know it without some real good camera angles and multiple angles at that. .


I'm not so sure that's the case. Does your teacher orbit your position like a drone? (Hey, maybe there's an idea! Buy a drone.)

I'm inclined to think a knowledgable teacher can see what they need to see, perhaps with an occasional request to move the camera a bit if something isn't clear. Tension and posture show from yards/meters away. So do hand shape, forearm rotation, etc. Fingering would be just as easy either way.

I heard an interesting comment from a student who was taking Skype lessons from the same teacher I was, specifically to sort out a mechanics problem she was struggling with. She said she found it less intrusive and uncomfortable to have a camera up close to her than it would be to have somebody's face that close.

As keystring suggests, if the choice is between a great teacher with limited angles of view and a poor teacher in person - and that is the choice the majority of students probably face - then I know which I would pick.


gotta go practice
Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
rach3master #2783924 11/24/18 01:44 AM
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Interesting discussions here. Yes, I would be mostly interested in interpretation, and any technical challenges I think wouldn't pose as much an issue. What does interest me most here is whether sound quality and tone may suffer as a result. Can nuances in tone/color/etc. be accurately demonstrated and taught if the sound is ultimately transmitted digitally?

On top of that, I'm playing with VST software on a digital piano, which is a completely different sonic experience than playing on a real grand piano. I worry if I were to stream my playing for the teacher there would be subtleties that would be missing, compared to playing for them in person.


Youtube piano recordings (classical music/video games/anime): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh9N3Xirs86USDQXE1WiwXg
Kawai Novus NV-10 / Yamaha Avantgrand N1 with Garritan CFX VST
Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
rach3master #2783935 11/24/18 03:25 AM
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I think that the biggest challenge here, is to get a vst instrument to route through Skype.
If you have found a way, please let me know how you did it.

If not, you may find you will have to play the DP's native sounds, via line out, into a mixer along with your microphone, and from there into the computer.


Rob
Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
rach3master #2783962 11/24/18 07:22 AM
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Haven’t posted here in a while but an interesting question about online learning. Since I teach online almost exclusively to beginners and advanced and professional pianists and since I’ve also taken some online lessons, I’ll just add to what Charles already said ... if you haven’t done so by now, take a few lessons from the teacher you’re thinking about and see how it works for you.

You’re far better off on Skype with a great teacher with whom you click than you are in a local studio with a less-than-great teacher with whom you don’t click.

From my own experience, there’s no aspect of pianism, from technique to interpretation to improvisation to whatever that can’t be taught online through Skype or whatever other platform you might be considering.

Here’s a guest blog post a wrote several years ago about teaching with Skype.

https://pianodao.com/2016/06/26/piano-teaching-video-conferencing/

And, as a last thought, there are indeed a million ways to improve the quality of sound and image that transmit over the internet but, the repoire a student and teacher develop, a shared collaborative sense of learning where teacher and student or vice versa take responsibility for the learning process—in the end that’s what counts. As an anecdote, I’ll throw in the story of the student I had in Iran. We could barely establish a Skype connection but the repoire we had and his imaginative sense of how to use avaiilable technology made all the difference.

Hope this adds something useful to the discussion ....

Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
R0B #2784374 11/25/18 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by R0B
I think that the biggest challenge here, is to get a vst instrument to route through Skype.

Yea, I dunno how I'd accomplish this.


Youtube piano recordings (classical music/video games/anime): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh9N3Xirs86USDQXE1WiwXg
Kawai Novus NV-10 / Yamaha Avantgrand N1 with Garritan CFX VST
Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
rach3master #2787077 12/02/18 03:33 PM
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Your concern are valid and ive heard you play so I know the level you're at. I'd only do it if the teacher was incredible. I saw this Russian concert pianist doing lessons for like $50 an hour and he is amazing. I'd deal with the digital drawbacks to work with someone like that

Re: Online lessons for advanced student viable?
R0B #2788281 12/06/18 02:47 AM
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Originally Posted by R0B
I think that the biggest challenge here, is to get a vst instrument to route through Skype.
If you have found a way, please let me know how you did it.

If not, you may find you will have to play the DP's native sounds, via line out, into a mixer along with your microphone, and from there into the computer.


I was able to figure this out today. I used the TotalMix software that came with my RME Babyface Pro, and used the Loopback function to combine my two inputs (microphone and piano VST through Reaper) into one. I wonder now if I can just play the Garritan CFX standalone program as an input, because playing it live through Reaper causes more audio glitches.


Youtube piano recordings (classical music/video games/anime): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh9N3Xirs86USDQXE1WiwXg
Kawai Novus NV-10 / Yamaha Avantgrand N1 with Garritan CFX VST
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