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Joined: Feb 2021
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Hi!
I may have to get an online teacher as I'm moving rurally, some questions for anyone with experience teaching this way:
If I'd get an online teacher, what kind of equipment would I need? Currently I only have a macbook so I'd assume maybe a good mic at the minimum? Do you have any suggestions?
Do you have any tips for where to put the camera/laptop to give optimal view of the student's playing?
Any other suggestions to optimize the lesson experience? What has/hasn't worked during the lessons?

Thank you!

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Hi
I have online students. We use Zoom. It is possible with FaceTime, but that can be kind of cumbersome with a phone...If you have it on your laptop, that's not bad...
First I'll address my setup, then a student setup.

I have an older MacBook (pro) setup to the far right and slightly in front of me. I use the mic and camera on the mac. The camera is a picture of me so I can "face" the student.
I have my iPhone suspended above my keyboard for when I want to demonstrate something or closeup on the music. So my laptop and my phone are 2 separate participants.
I do have a better (small) speaker/amp plugged into the headphone out so I can hear what they are doing better. I haven't tried bluetooth, but that might work...

I have some students that do the same, but mostly it's a laptop at either far end of the keyboard that is close enough and raised enough for you to see what they are doing...kind of an "over the shoulder" perspective. And then a couple that just hang a phone above their keyboard...that's the bottom line to see what they're doing...

I've been doing it this way since last March...works fine.
Online suits piano better than other instruments.
It's a good way to get used to the process and it's been pretty durable.
There are a couple of adjustments in zoom preferences...nothing ridiculous.

you can get into mics and cameras at a later date...not necessary unless you're going to start a youtube channel...


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I will second Mike's thoughts entirely; he's more technically attuned than I am. But I, too, have been using a Mac (a desktop iMac) to teach online since last April. The mike and speakers built into the Mac are fine.

The bigger issues are the speed of your Internet, and of your teacher's Internet. And the better the intrinsic sound quality of your piano, and your teacher's piano, the better these will come across over the Internet. There is sound degradation at every step of the online teaching process.

If your expectations are low and you both have high-speed Internet, it will work.

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My son has been taking online lessons. He uses an iPad on a tripod that he can adjust the view. Normally he set the iPad to the left side of the piano so he can show the teacher his hands playing on the keyboard and his face as well. The teacher can show her face or switch the view to show her hands playing. Each teacher's setting is different. So I guess you contact a teacher first and see what they require.

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Thank you all smile I will try it out with just my laptop to begin with!

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It may depend on your laptop. When I used just my HP laptop, it was a disaster. I was going in and out so much my teacher could not hear me half the time. You may be able to get around this with an external microphone. I ended up just buying an IPad and my teacher uses an apple computer and it now works fine as long as we make some adjustments like using enabling original sound. It is not as good as in person of course but it works quite well.


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You may want a teacher that sends you a write up after the lesson. I have been sending links to worksheets or screenshots of music.

During in person lessons, I write in an assignment notebook. Many of my students are young, and parents do not always observe the lesson. With Zoom lessons, I ask the student to circle the assigned pages, and then I send an email to the mom and the dad. "here is a way to improvise on this" "theory page 27 can be done in colored pencil" "watch at measure 12 that fingers remain curved, and is played legato" and so on.


Even if you are advanced, there should be some kind of follow-up because we all forget stuff!

Good luck!

Last edited by missbelle; 02/17/21 07:25 PM.

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I don't know if this software has any application to piano lessons, but I'll share it here because it was new to me and interesting.

I got a call today for an upcoming gig. Been way too long!! But it requires a rehearsal, and that will be done online through JackTrip. I'd never heard of it.

Here's a podcast that explains it:

https://www.jacktrip.org/

The podcast wouldn't copy but it's down on the lower right.


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Hey, I've been teaching online for almost a year now so here's a few tips I hope can help.

A lot of people get the angle wrong at first, I prefer the student to have the camera to the side of the piano (so I can see both them and the keys), and high up enough that it's a similar view to what the teacher would have in a normal lesson. My main problem has been students putting the camera almost parallel with the keys, or on the music stand in front of them.
A MacBook should be ok quality, put if you're looking to upgrade then I'd suggest getting a separate webcam. I have a Nexigo webcam, and the mic is decent enough that I usually don't bother using the mic that I use for recording. I have a Blue Yeti microphone, which I do use sometimes if I know that I'll need to demonstrate a lot in the lesson. Most of my students just use their laptop/tablet mic/audio and it works well enough for the most part.
I sometimes record the lesson or parts of the lesson, if I'm demonstrating something that a student may want to watch back. I also share lesson notes through google drive.
Hope all this has been helpful, and do feel free to send a pm if you're looking for an online teacher in future!

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Update on the JackTrip approach, since we've had a meeting with the ensemble.

Bottom line, not practical nor necessary for online lessons.

What it does is reduce the latency so that multiple players can play together as if they're in the same room. It does this with some tricks in how data is transmitted that apparently reduce the time to assemble packets and send smaller blocks continuously.

The downside is that while only one person has to pay for use of the JackTrip server, everybody has to invest in the equipment to get started. That's not cheap, it's in the $250 - $300 range depending on how much you might already own. You have to buy their connection box, microphones, cables, connectors, adapters, etc.

You could do a piano recital that way, but I don't see getting every parent to buy the equipment for every child.


gotta go practice

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