Teaching by live video

March 15, 2020, 8:48 AM · OK. We are supposed to be "social distancing" now, and I have some concerned students who want lessons to be online. What apps/programs work best, in your experience? Does anyone have experience with this?
I am on a MacBook Air and have an iPhone 6s, so I have FaceTime, but it does not work with some other phones/PCs - recommendations?

Replies (8)

March 15, 2020, 9:31 AM · Hi Annette,

I have been teaching online for many years, and I have found Skype to work fine.
Alternatively, you can use FaceTime or WhatsApp, or online conferencing software such as GoToMeeting.

I prefer using a computer or laptop, as the screen is much bigger than on a phone. However, young people are so used to using their phones for everything, that they don't seem to mind.
I tend not to use a micrphone for my lessons, other than the built-in mic in my computer, as headphones with a mic tend to make a lot of noise when it moves against you clothes.

I hope this helps!

Henriette at Pro-Am Strings

March 15, 2020, 11:49 AM · Skype seems to be the standard by which other things are judged.
Edited: March 15, 2020, 12:48 PM · There was a fairly detailed review posted on someone's blog that's worth reading: LINK

Basically, use Zoom with a laptop, was the conclusion. That is what my community music school has decided to do for all of its teachers.

March 16, 2020, 10:28 PM · Skype works great otherwise video call through Facebook messenger!
Edited: March 17, 2020, 12:17 PM · So I had an online lesson yesterday over FaceTime. My teacher has a mac book but I used a 2nd generation IPad air. She said that when I played, she heard a thumping/beating. At first, she thought I was stomping my feet. I moved the IPad around--from the top of a coffeemaker to a bookshelf--but it continued. I didn't have any appliances running and the heat pump was off. When she played I didn't hear anything unusual. She concluded it was my violin, which would be worrisome (open seams?). I think it is probably more likely to be some sort of problem with the connection or my device. Has anyone else had this experience?

Despite this, apparently she could hear intonation :). We did work out a left hand technical problem I have been making incremental progress on, so I think the lesson was still valuable. But I suspect we would not be able to focus on phrasing or anything particularly musical with this set up.

Edited to clarify that by "this set up" I meant my IPad with my internet connection and whatever else is causing the weird beating/thumping. She said it was very distracting. I'm going to ask that we try a goto meeting next time so I can use my computer.

March 17, 2020, 11:33 AM · In my experience, intonation, rhythm, tempo, and phrasing can be addressed through a virtual lesson. Dynamics and sound production are more difficult to hear although it is sometimes possible to *see* a problem that affects a student's sound production.

I have gone to all online lessons effective yesterday.

March 17, 2020, 9:01 PM · I did go to online only yesterday, and it works. But students using an iPad from school did have Jocelyn's issue. I don't know why. We were using FaceTime, and in the end I did best using my phone. I thought the laptop would be best, and even got a microphone for better tone quality with it, but the iPhone sounds and performs best overall.

You do have to be really good at explaining things with words, as demonstrating or playing along do not work well, but overall, it is working. I do not think I would want to try starting a beginner this way!!

Edited: March 17, 2020, 11:39 PM · Pinchas Zukerman, in some ways is a real innovator. Back in the late 90’s, he was one of the first musical educators to do video conferencing lessons via Internet2 with his students at MSM while on tour. It’s a nice alternative when times make it impossible to be in the same place as your students. Of course, the best way to learn is still the old fashioned way. As Mary Ellen said above, general things like intonation and rhythm can be addressed through video conferencing.

I’ve taught my international students in Mexico, China, Singapore, South Korea and Australia over FaceTime and Skype. I personally prefer using my iPad for lessons because it seems to respond a bit quicker than my older MacBook. It has worked out quite well!


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