Tips on Improving Your Video Lesson

By now, more than a few of you have opted for the virtual lesson. The live video music class has it’s advantages and it’s short falls. Once we are passed this phase, we can still use video lessons as tool during more ordinary times. When the student can’t come in but is still at home, lessons while at the cottage, lessons when the student is sick but not bed ridden, etc.

Make up lessons maybe completely avoided this way but classes can also be made up this way in the future.
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The Upsides

Of course the obvious upside of the video lessons is being able to continue them through this interruption. Going forward, the upside will be in the form of making attending lessons weekly even easier.
One hidden benefit of music lessons via internet video, is that it is great for the ears. Our ears are an obvious, but sometimes overlooked, learning sense.
Hearing the teacher play the piece or passage correctly, combined with watching the music, really reinforces the co-relationship between what we see and what we hear and what we play.

Another upside, we are hoping for, is getting away some families and students away from confusing the lesson with the practicing. When I hear a parent or student refer their lesson as ‘practice’ (as in Johnny can’t make it to his music practice, see you next week) It may be a slip of the tongue in this sports oriented world, but it may also be indicative of thinking lesson time IS the practice.

Time Lag

The number one difference and downside is the time lag (AKA latency). This prevents the teacher and student playing at the same time. This can vary but is always there. We have souped up our internet connection at the school but here is what you can do at home:

  • Wired connections are best but that is only practical for portable instruments like guitar, ukulele, sax, etc.
  • Avoid using a phone, the screens are just too small and the speakers too poor for students to see and here the teacher
  • Move the tablet or laptop so the teacher can see the student and their hands (and feet in the case of drum students) and the student can still see the screen.
  • With younger students and the more prone to distraction types, a parent really needs to be near by.
  • To combat lag, stutter and freezing, make sure that no other heavy WiFi resource is hogging bandwidth. That means Netflix, YouTube, general streaming, etc.
  • Where possible use plug in ear buds (the kind with the built in mic) this can combat a number of sound issues
  • Typically these lessons are, demonstration by the student, critique by the teacher, corrected playing by the student, demonstrating by the teacher etc.
  • Where we are seeing the most issues are voice and drum set lessons. With drum lessons, acoustic drums overload the mics on tablets and laptops. With voice, the teacher is always the accompanist and since real time isn’t possible this can present some issues. For drums we may need to switch to practice pads or just sticks on a pillow for a few lessons. For voice students, we are going to make some vocal warm-up videos and post them on our YouTube. During your lesson you can sing a long with them for the teacher to hear. Hopefully we can find karaoke style backing tracks in each student’s key, send links and those can be used during lessons as well.

Thanks to all for sticking with us through these changing days! Your support means so much to us!
Hopefully these few tips can help us make the video lessons a decent replacement to real life lessons until real life returns to us.

Take care, Robert Burton