Online piano lessons: Zoom pointers for families setting up at home

If your piano teacher is moving your usual in-studio private lessons online, these pointers will help you set up at home. Thank-you for your willingness to adapt as we move forward together to keep everyone as safe as we can.

Teachers, please share this with your students and families on Facebook or link to this blog: https://rebekah.maxner.ca/2020/03/21/online-piano-lessons-pointers-for-families-setting-up/ (copy and paste the URL)

Here are some steps you can take to prepare before lessons begin:

Download Zoom

Zoom is an app that allows people to meet face-to-face online with video and audio features. It’s free and safe! Zoom works on all devices: laptops, tablets and smartphones. It also works on all operating systems.

Zoom is safest when used with the ‘waiting room’ feature. This means the teacher initiates the contact and you click to join, and must wait in the waiting room until admitted to the meeting. This protects you from unexpected visitors.


Start by signing in to Zoom on your laptop or computer: https://zoom.us

or


Set up Zoom on the device you’ll be using in your lessons. You’ll get several prompts:

  • “Please enter your name.” You’ll see this the first time only. Type your name in the field.
  • “Zoom Would Like to Access the Camera.” Choose OK. This will allow your teacher to see your face, fingers and piano keys.
  • “Join with Video.” Press the blue button.
  • “Zoom Would Like to Access the Microphone.” Choose OK. This will allow you and your teacher to talk to each other and for your teacher to hear you play the piano.
  • “Zoom Would Like to Send You Notifications.” Choose Allow. The notification will be sent to you when your lesson is about to begin.
  • In “Advanced settings” on laptops choose “Enable original sound.” This means music will come through clearly without being suppressed as background noise.

A day or two before the lesson…

  • Send your teacher a photo of your last assignment sheet. (Text or email.)
  • Be sure you’ve filled in the times or checkmarks on your practice record.
  • You’ll get an invitation to the online lesson “meeting” from your teacher. Add it to your calendar (Google, Outlook, etc.).
Text or email a photo or scan of your previous lesson assignment sheets.

One hour before the lesson…

  • Be sure your device is fully charged.
  • Find all of your music books and assignment book.
  • Find a pencil and eraser and have them ready at the piano.
  • Check that you’ve clipped your finger nails.

10 minutes before the lesson…

  • Make sure you’ve already used the washroom.
  • Remind other members in your household that it’s time to limit their internet use. If someone in your home were streaming a movie, it would create a very poor connection for the online lesson. 
  • Be ready at your instrument. (Very young students be ready with your parent helper.)
  • Set up your device as suggested. 
A tablet or laptop can be set to the side of the student’s piano.
A simple set-up like a kitchen stool can work as a stand.
If using a smartphone, experiment with portrait and landscape view for the best image.
Setting the phone directly on the piano can give a good view.
  • Open your books to the pages you’ll be using. 
  • Optional: You may want to have a glass of water handy (avoid water damage on your piano or the risk of spilling into a keyboard, just have it near).
  • You’ll get a notification that the lesson is about to begin. You’ll be asked to wait in the “waiting room.”
You will see a prompt to join the lesson.

As the lesson begins…

  • You’ll be invited to the meeting by your teacher. Join.
  • Zoom will prompt: “To hear others please join audio.” Choose Call using Internet Audio.
  • The student (or for young students, the parent) will write in the notes for this week’s assignment sheet.

To end the lesson…

  • If you have asked for a video recording to help you review and remember what you covered in the lesson through the week, your teacher may end the video portion of the lesson a few minutes earlier than the scheduled end time. This allows time for the video to process and save before the start of the next student’s lesson. Even though there may be three minutes missed from your time, there is an advantage to having the video to consult through the week.
  • On your screen you will see in red lettering, “Leave Meeting.” A pop-up prompt will ask you to confirm that you want to leave the meeting.
At the end of the lesson select “Leave Meeting.”
After selecting “Leave Meeting” you will be disconnected.

In case of technical problems…

  • Any lesson that cannot be completed with the original device can be finished on a regular telephone. 

Again, thank-you for being flexible and willing to give this alternative piano lesson idea a try! I’m working very hard to make sure your child’s piano lesson experience continues to be an enriching and musical one.

~ Your Teacher

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I appreciate shares, comments and likes. Happy teaching!


Video of the week

Jelly Roll Jazz (Elementary, Level 1), a piano solo with walking bass line and ordinary, easy-to-play triads that sound jazzy! From the newly released 2020 print and eBook Rock this Town, 11 Elementary piano works, solos and duets. Or, check out the studio-licensed eSheet for Jelly Roll Jazz!

Here’s an audio sample of the Level 1 piano solo, Little Blue Engine.

10 thoughts on “Online piano lessons: Zoom pointers for families setting up at home

Add yours

  1. Hi, Rebekah -this document is a wonderful help to teachers and parents! I am still struggling with zoom settings for my students. If they all download the zoom app, will they be able to adjust their settings to deal with background noise and restoring original sound on their end? I’ve had private trial runs with a good many students now, and only half of the ones who are on laptops are able to adjust these settings. (There is just no place on their end to see or adjust these things.) And a couple of those who did change their settings still had poor sound quality. What about those students on iPads and iPhones,? If they download the app, does it offer them the ability to change those settings? Seems that I’m becoming more confused all the time. Sure would appreciate any help you could give me. Thanks in advance!

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    1. Hi, Lucy, thanks for this question! My husband and I have been experimenting with the settings on various devices and were only able to find the advanced setting for Enabling Original Sound on our laptop. Here is more detailed instruction that came from a comment on Piano Teacher Canada (a Facebook group):
      Once you have the Zoom app installed on your laptop,​ open a meeting window and do the following:
      1) Click the up arrow next to microphone, and click “Audio settings” (last menu item).
      2) On the lower right of the window, click “Advanced.”
      3) From here, you’ll see options: “Suppress persistent background noise,” and “Suppress intermittent background noise. Turn both of these OFF (or Disable). These filters are designed for talking, not music; the processors are confused by the sustained notes and overtones, which will cause distortions and glitches in the audio.
      4) Click “Show in-meeting option to ‘Enable Original Sound’ from microphone”
      5) In the top left corner of your main meeting screen, you’ll see “Turn on original sound” or “Enable Original Sound.” Both the teacher and student should click this “on.”

      If it turns out you can’t choose that setting on smartphones or tablets (and that remains to be seen, perhaps someone else has found it), one solution would be to encourage as many students as possible to use laptops, and for the teacher to also use a laptop. One thing is sure, we’ll keep digging to try to solve this! ~ All the best, Rebekah

      Like

  2. Another great post, thanks Rebekah. I think I’ll give zoom a try. I did a trial run with a teacher friend of mine and worked well. I like the option of recording the lesson, or part of the lesson, for student review.

    Like

    1. Thanks! And you’re welcome! Trial runs are good not only to get on top of it but to boost teacher confidence and alleviate stress! I’ve already let my students know that week 1 might be a little bit music and a little bit learning how to connect through zoom. I have a feeling week 2 will run smoother. I’m looking forward to the video option, too!

      Like

  3. Hey Rebekah – thank you for preparing all of this & allowing us to share it. I have been trialling zoom here in Oz & it’s going well. One issue I’m having when I try to share interactive website platforms – which is easy to do – the sound from them is very faint so if we’re trying to run backing tracks we can’t hear them – any idea what might be wrong? Thanks again!

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    1. Hi, Heather! Are you patching your backing tracks through a mixer or playing through the air for your student to hear? Which device are the backing tracks playing on, yours or your student’s?

      Like

  4. This is an excellent tutorial to help parents and students get started! I have been teaching online a couple months now but I will be borrowing some of your ideas the next time I start a student since this is more succinct and clear than what I figured out to get my students prepared for online in March!

    Like

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