Best Platform for Online Teaching?
Now that my area is on lockdown, it seems I can't teach at all, being a "non-essential business." Originally I was planning on just having everyone stick to a strict protocol (wearing masks, not coming in if they have a cough or symptoms, etc...). But it seems now I have to change my whole system and teach online, which I have never really done before (I did a skype lesson like 5 years ago with a student, but the lagginess due to her connection made it a terrible experience, and I'm afraid of that repeating).
Anyhow, what do you guys feel is the best platform for online teaching? Skype? Discord? Something else?
Also, I have always just received checks from students, and now I'm assuming I'm going to have to take payment digitally. Any good suggestions on that?
My teacher uses a combination of platforms, Skype, Facetime, and other things that a student might have like zoom.
I did my first day ever of online teaching yesterday -- my computer didn't even have a web-cam until I ordered one from Amazon (Logitech C922) on Monday! So Wednesday once it came my wife and I hurriedly practiced using both Zoom and Skype. My wife is using her iPad but I'm much more comfortable using my computer for this.
With my entire state under "shelter in place" order, everything is now done online.
I'm less concerned about the actual platform than being able to interact with students about their music:
@Scott Cole that is what we have been struggling with as well. Since my son's recital got postponed until fall, his teacher started him on a bunch of new repertoire. We've done a mix of things.
@Scott Cole wrote: "Of course, it would be easier if the teacher always had the music the student was playing, but that's not always the case."
I spoke with my aunt on FB's video link for the first time today. There was a 5 second delay between us, lol. (physical distance about 100 miles). Curiously, the sound quality was poor and the video quality good, the opposite of Skype.
I had a lesson on Tuesday via Google Hangouts, which I'd never heard of, but it was fine. There was a small delay of maybe a second but I put my laptop about where my teacher usually would stand relative to me and tried to set everything up physically as much like it would be in her studio as possible. And, despite my doubts, it was a good lesson. I'm not a beginner, though, so mostly our lessons consist of me playing, my teacher listening and commenting and sometimes playing as an example. We have the same music in front of us, but for repertoire I use my own fingerings and we only discuss them if she doesn't think they're working.
I've been teaching lessons using Facetime (iPhone 11 Pro) and Zoom (iMac with a Blue Yeti USB mic).
My daughter is having lessons through FaceTime.
It's encouraging to hear the adaptations that everyone is implementing. I'm still trying to figure out if I should just take a month off and hope things return to normal instead of undergoing the task of moving nearly 50 students to a totally different way of doing things. I don't teach anyone that would be tremendously affected by one month vacation. However, if the required shelter-in-place duration ends up being longer than a month, it would have been better to start the online lessons sooner rather than later...
Personally, I'm not expecting that things could return to normal in a month (came to this realization earlier this week). Last week, I made sure to go over tuning in every lesson and made the decision to end in-person meeting after last Saturday. The past week has been working on detailed plans to transition to full distance learning and meeting with everyone (generally, FaceTime or Google Hangouts) to connect on a relationship level, discuss realities and needs and expectations, etc.
Skype, better video call stability and quality than Whatsapp. I do use whatsapp for group chat and them to send me videos, whatsapp autimatically compresses videos, much quicker.
God, I didn't even consider tuning until now. I teach a ton of beginners whom, if they had to use the pegs, would likely break a string. Or, even if I was coaching them in real time via Skype, if the peg had slipped loose, it's likely that the string may have slipped out of its groove on the nut or the bridge... or the ball end might barely be holding on inside the tailpiece, or the string may have come out of the peghole. Or, the bridge may now be leaning weird.
Last week I made them ALL tune, most managed it, and most by fine tuners, very fortunate that 80% of them have "violin shop" violins that are decent. I think there was 1 bridge adjustment and maybe 1 or 2 where after 10 min I just took it over so that we could still play. This week there was one slipped peg, which I walked them through, and I let them go over time because of the whole transition planning.
I found FaceTime hassle free as the student and me had that on both Mac and iPhone without setting up anything further. The music school where I work is setting up Zoom. I've always found Skype to be reliable too and you can share the screen (at least you used to be able to - haven't checked lately). If it hasn't been mentioned already, you should use headphones both ends as this will stop the sound dipping out when you speak or vice versa.
I have tried everything ranging from Zoom to Skype to Facetime. I would absolutely suggest trying Youbrio (https://www.youbrio.com/), a free app recommended to me by a friend. The piano playing on my student’s side is crystal clear and there is significantly less lag. The technology of the app far surpasses that of Zoom or Skype as it appears to have been designed especially for music teaching. There is even a nifty dual view feature which allows you to use one device for the video call and a second device for their whiteboard feature, where students can upload their music for you to annotate. Give it a try, it’s been working well for me!
I had my first Skype lesson this week. Prior to the lesson, my teacher and I had a 5 minute test call to check that my setup would work. We both use headphones (mine are Bluetooth) and I use my laptop's microphone. He's able to interrupt while I'm playing.
Gene, I am very interested in hearing about your orchestra rehearsal on ZOOM. I have found many conflicting reports about delays with ZOOM--some good some bad. How did your rehearsal go?
My teacher and I have used Zoom for 3 lessons now. It seems to be going ok though last time he had problems with there being no sound from my 1st bow after we paused to discuss, and a few other things apparently related with Zoom settings.
Catherine - if you continue on Zoom, speak a word or two before you play. The software picks up your voice more easily, then is "tuned" (calibrated?) in your direction to further music sounds.
BTW I take payment through zelle. It works great and I feel it is secure though I'm no expert...
Having done 90% online lessons for the past 2 years, I prefer skype. It has the least voice-optimized compression algorithm meaning it preserves music better than other online services like zoom (in my opinion, the music audio is pretty bad).