Lessons via online video conferencing platforms such Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype are available at my discretion to students who live further than 60 miles away from my studio, and have completed one year of harp study in person. I also offer online video lessons when I’m traveling, during inclement weather events, or emergency situations.
Tips for successful online lessons
- Set up your computer or mobile device close to the WiFi router (like in the same room) if possible. The more walls and appliances (like TVs or Microwaves) the wifi has to travel through, the slower the signal. Being close to the router will help your upload speeds and make the video connection more stable.
- It is helpful (and the video quality is better) if the amount of bandwidth used on your WiFi network and on your device during your lesson is kept to a dull roar. Encourage others in your household network to not stream video or play online games while you are video conferencing.
- Close out all the internet using applications like web browsers, email clients, facebook, etc. on your device.
- Avoid having a light or window directly behind you, this makes it hard for me to see you, your hands, and your harp strings. Keep the light sources behind the camera on your device if possible.
- Set your device about arms length away from you and ideally about eye level in height. If it’s too far away and the software will have trouble picking up the harp sound.
- Use headphones (the kind with a microphone built in) to dramatically improve the sound quality.
- Have the ability to plug in your device to charge. Video conferencing drains battery life. Getting all set-up only to realize you have a low battery and can’t reach the plug is frustrating and time consuming.
- You don’t need fancy stands or external microphones, though they are nice. You can use a 2nd music stand, or a barstool, or a tall piece of furniture to position your device for harp lessons.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get set-up, especially before your first lesson online. It always takes longer than you think to login to and position everything where you want it.
Zoom is my preferred platform for online video conference lessons. It is free, it works on all computer operating systems, and all mobile devices with a front facing camera. With the right settings, the sound quality on Zoom is usually better than other platforms. Here are some helpful Zoom hints:
- Use the desktop or laptop version of Zoom, if possible. Sadly, the Zoom app for mobile devices does not have many of the features found in the computer version, especially the ones that make Zoom process musical sounds better.
- Zoom works better and the video connection is more stable on WiFi. So if you are using Zoom on a mobile device make sure you are connected to WiFi and not using cellular data.
- If you are using a desktop or laptop enable the option to Preserve Original Sound in the Audio Settings to dramatically improve Zoom’s ability to share musical sounds. You will then be able to click “Turn on Original Sound” in the upper corner of your screen during your Zoom sessions. (The Original Sound setting is not an option on the mobile device versions of Zoom.)
- Double check all of your audio settings including the option to Preserve Original Sound using the Configure your Zoom Audio Settings instructions for computers below.
- Here is a YouTube playlist with helpful Zoom Tutorials.
- Having trouble with Zoom? Click here to find instructions for desktop and mobile versions of zoom on all operating systems.
Configure Your Zoom Audio Settings
On the computer version of Zoom please change your audio settings so they are configured as follows for online lessons.
Step 1: Access your Audio Settings
Step 1: Access your Audio Settings
Step 2: Make sure "Audio" is selected on the left, and adjust your settings to look like these.
Step 3: Under the "Advanced" button adjust your settings to look like these.
Step 4: Now you will see this button once you are in your Zoom lesson. You want to click it to Turn on Original Sound (it will then read "Turn Off Original Sound"), and you have to manually click it at the start of each lesson. Zoom automatically suppresses sounds other than the human voice, because most of the time when people talk on Zoom everything else is background noise. By clicking "Turn on Original Sound" Zoom will allow musical sounds to be transmitted rather than suppressed or filtered out.