I use the Zoom web conferencing platform which is accessible on camera/mic equipped computers, smartphones and tablets. A few hours before class, you’ll receive an invitation by email with an access link. It will also be posted on our resource page and in our Facebook group.
To participate in what Zoom calls a “meeting” (our lesson), click or tap the link under the heading, “Join Zoom Meeting” to open your browser (Chrome, Safari, etc.). Alternatively, you can connect through your phone by tapping the listed numbers. If you like, you can learn more about how to join a meeting here.
For the first time joining a Zoom meeting, the internet browser will download the Zoom installer for you, if you don’t already have it installed on your computer. If you like, you can download the installer ahead of time here http://www.zoom.us/support/download, and then run the installer.
If you do not wish to download any plug-ins or software you can cancel and stream the meeting through your browser. However, there will be a few limitations. This link explains more.
Privacy: When you arrive, your microphone and video camera are set to OFF by default. Turn either or both on so we can hear and see you. If you prefer to observe off-camera, leave them both off.
If for some reason you cannot use zoom I can do online lessons on various other video messaging platforms such as Skype, Facetime, or Hangouts.
Devices – All you need is a computer, tablet, or smartphone with a camera and microphone connected to the internet or cellular data. Set it off to the side of your piano so we can see your face and hands like this picture.
Headphones – Video conferencing echoes are easily avoided by wearing headphones and/or turning your volume down.
Software – For the best experience, install the Zoom app here: www.zoom.us/support/download
Check your connection – Streaming video is very demanding on your Internet connection. If you are on Wi-Fi, the closer you are to the router, the better. A direct Ethernet connection is usually more reliable than Wi-Fi.
Reduce demand – Encourage those around you who are on the same connection to take a break from the internet or, at least, refrain from downloading large files or streaming video (this includes Netflix and Xbox Live) during the duration of the lesson.
Close unnecessary programs – Close down all software, apps and browser tabs on your device, except what you need to view the lesson. This includes online storage programs that sync in the background such as Dropbox or Google Drive.
Optional: Tweak your microphone – The microphones in most devices have noise cancellation built in to optimize the human voice. Unfortunately, it considers piano music to be noise and tries to filter it out. Here’s how to easily optimize your microphone for the lesson.
Open the Control Panel and click on Sound
Select the Recording tab, right-click your microphone, and select Properties
Select the Enhancements tab, disable all enhancements, and click Apply.
In system preferences in your Launchpad, click on the sound icon
Click on Input, and uncheck the use ambient noise reduction and close the window
From a Home screen, navigate: Settings > Accessibility. For devices running iOS 12.4 and lower, navigate: Settings > General > Accessibility.
Tap Audio/Visual then tap the Phone Noise Cancellation switch to turn on or off .
From a Home screen, tap Phone (located in the lower-left).
Tap the Menu icon (located in the upper-right).
Tap Noise reduction to enable or disable.
Contact Tommy (but not after a lesson starts) here.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Go to the zoom website and click the Help button (even during a lesson) in the lower right-hand corner.
Here’s how zoom looks on your end.
Suggested positioning of your device.
It is understandable that some people have reservations about the effectiveness of piano lessons online. However, many piano teachers around the world have been successfully teaching online lessons to all levels of students for the last few years. Skype capability is also being offered on some of the top music teaching platforms and apps. It is my aim to make online lessons even better than in-person lessons.
You can also screen record the lesson so that you can go back over it during your practise time. This is a big advantage because you can see exactly what I’m doing and remind yourself of the lesson content. It is recommended that lessons can be video recorded for repeated viewing using Quicktime.
How do we see each other properly?
I use my iPad overhead so that you get a clear view of my hands on the keys. If you can position your laptop, computer, or tablet at the end of your keyboard that will be fine (I don’t usually need the overhead view of you playing).
How can I give you music and mark it?
I will use an app called Forscore to mark your pieces and send you the music as a PDF.
How can we play together?
Although it is difficult to play together due to latency, most of the duet playing I do with students is optional. It’s not actually necessary to the progress, but just makes it more fun. I’ll send you a recording of my duet part for you to practise with. This should work better as you can refer to it whenever you want and it should also make your practising more fun.