‘Useful tips for taking online music lessons ‘ by Magesh
I’ve had a great career as a session drummer. I got to perform with Lionel Richie, Ricky Martin, Rhianna, Nelly Fertado, and a ton of other pop stars. As much as I love playing live, I still love teaching. Showing young musicians how to play a rock beat or how to read music always gave me a great amount of joy.
For years I taught at various high schools and my home studio. When students came to my house for lessons, I noticed parents would often complain about how much time they spent in traffic. This is what prompted me to switch to online lessons. For me, the experience of learning online should be as close as possible to having a face-to-face lesson.
I started teaching music online 2 years before Covid happened. This meant that I had already solved a lot of problems associated with taking music lessons online. I would like to share the things that have made my lessons run more efficiently. Whether you are a student, a parent, or a teacher I hope you get something out of this article.
Should I use my phone/tablet or a pc?
From my experience, a laptop computer is the most reliable. If you can plug an ethernet cable into your modem it will guarantee the lesson will run as smoothly as possible. If you don’t have an ethernet cable having the modem in the room with you will help the strength of your wifi signal. Most tablets and phones have pretty good mobile data coverage. A good idea may be to test out a zoom call with a friend first to see what the reception is like on your phone or tablet.
Do I need additional equipment for online lessons?
Having a headset with a microphone will give your teacher a greater chance of hearing you. Headphones make a massive difference simply because the audio is going straight into your ears you are not competing with the volume of your instrument. If you have spent hundreds of dollars on an instrument, then invested money into lessons it makes sense to spend at least 10 bucks on a decent pair of headphones!
What room in my house is the best for taking online lessons?
This may seem like a silly question but I can assure you….it isn’t. I once had a student set his drumkit in the living room which was connected to the kitchen. It was incredibly hard for me to hear him and for him to hear me. His mum’s blender was louder than his drumkit! Another downside to this was it always made me hungry seeing his mum make a chicken curry. The reason the room is important is for 2 reasons. Number 1, you want your teacher to be able to hear you. Number 2, you want your teacher to be able to see you. Having a light source that is in front of you is important. Having a large window behind you will make it difficult for your teacher to see you. A teacher responds to your facial expressions to know if what they are saying is being understood. They are also watching your hands for proper technique.
What video platform should I use?
From all the platforms I have used including Microsoft teams, google meets and Skype, Zoom was the most reliable. It had the least glitching and problems with links that were sent to students.
Are there any settings I should know about when using Zoom?
If you click on ‘Audio’ then go to ‘Advanced settings’ you will see a box that says ‘Suppress background noise’. Having this box unticked is very important. The reason is simple. It puts your instrument in the category of ‘background noise’. This means your teacher will hear you speak but as soon as you play your guitar/drumkit/piano the volume will be cut. This function is easy to change on a computer but can be a little difficult using zoom on a phone or tablet.
Is there anything else I should know?
If you use a phone or tablet make sure you have a decent stand! I have had countless students try and prop their phones up using a tissue box, book, cereal box, etc. Having a stand with moveable joints is great for getting the perfect angle for your teacher to see both your hands and face.
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