Interactive Online Music Lessons

How Do They Work, and What Do You Need?

At Amphy, interactive online music lessons are when the student and the teacher meet each other through Zoom videoconferencing software. Studying with a qualified teacher is not the same as going on to YouTube and trying to learn by yourself—with actual interactive online lessons your teacher will actually be evaluating you by watching and listening to you while you play! In this article I will outline some equipment that you will need in order to take online music lessons.

System Requirements

1. Fast Internet Connection

2. Computer or Mobile Device

3. Camera, Mic, Speakers (or Headphones)

4. Device Holder, Stand, or Tripod

5. Software

1. Fast Internet—How Fast is Fast?

If you want the best crystal clear quality, then it is recommend to have at least a 25 Mbps download and upload speed. You can easily check your speed at A 25 Mbps download and upload speed is preferred for optimal audio/video quality.

 

https://www.speedtest.net —that site even has apps that you can easily download to your devices to test the speeds directly on them!

 

Wired Ethernet: If possible, you should connect your device directly to the modem to minimize any wireless interference and delay. Adapters may be necessary.

2. Computer or Mobile Device

A desktop or portable (laptop/notebook) computer OR a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet is what you will use to meet for your music lesson. A computer/tablet is recommended for the main device in which you will be watching your teacher as smartphones tend to have screens that are too small for this purpose though they can be used as a secondary camera during a live lesson. Make sure that you charge your device before your lesson so you don’t run out of battery! Also to be sure that everything works properly and that your device performs well and is secure. Please do your software or operating system updates.

 

For the best audio experience, it is recommended that you use a computer instead of a tablet due to the limitations of tablet operating systems. Students who do not use a computer as their audio device tend to have poor sound which makes it more difficult for the teacher to assess them. It is recommended that you use an external microphone and computer for your lessons; this will allow the teacher to hear you as clearly as possible.

 

Almost every portable device these days has a built-in camera, built-in mic, and built-in speakers, but if you have a computer that does not have a camera OR you need a camera that has better resolution you can always purchase an external webcam. In addition often times the built-in microphones do not pick up the nuances of certain instruments, so it is highly recommended to get an external microphone if you have already optimized your audio settings in Zoom, and if you have trouble hearing your teacher or get too much feedback some headphones or earbuds can help you hear better and concentrate too, plus they help to eliminate feedback and echo issues.

3. Camera, Mic, Speakers/Headphones/ Earbuds

As mentioned above an external camera is a good idea if you have a computer that does not come with a built-in webcam (or if the built-in webcam no longer works).

 

You may wish to invest in a set of headphones/earbuds/speakers and a microphone that allow you to hear the lesson better so that you can focus, and by having a microphone closer to you, the sound is often clearer. Wireless headphones/earbuds/speakers are good as they allow you to move around, but just like with the devices make sure they are charged before your lesson! In addition if they use Bluetooth, and you are taking a live lesson, there is often a more noticeable delay in the sound than there would be with other wireless/wired options.

 

Again it is preferable to use a computer for lessons as there are more options for good sound. But there are external microphones that work with tablets, and tablets can be quite convenient for students to use for lessons.

 

Of course if your device already comes with decent camera, mic, and speakers then you don’t need to buy an extra webcam, but there are other things that you might need such as stands, holders, and tripods to help aim your camera so that the teacher can see you easily without you having to worry about holding the device and play your instrument or sing at the same time.

 

Want to get fancy? As you become more experienced with music, you may wish to invest in an audio interface with studio microphones!

4. Device Holder, Stand, or Tripod

It is important for the camera on your device to be pointing at an optimal angle for music instruction because the teacher needs to be able to see your hands if you are playing an instrument, and the teacher also needs to see the posture of your body especially if you are a vocalist or singer. So that your hands don’t have to be constantly adjusting the angle and so that they can be free to play your instrument or turn pages, a holder, stand, or tripod would greatly benefit your music lesson online session.

Software

For videoconferencing music lessons at Amphy, we use Zoom which may be downloaded at https://zoom.us/download

 

Teachers may also use a variety of music education learning apps, so please check with your teacher to see what you may be required to install on your device.

About the Author: Mage is a creative artist and Nationally Certified Teacher of Music with a Master of Fine Arts in music composition and performance, a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies, and an Apple Certified Macintosh Technician credential. She’s won national songwriting contests and can teach many instruments including guitar, piano, voice, and electric bass. She also teaches home recording and song composition.