Skype lessons are a fantastic way to learn to play a musical instrument in a safe, convenient environment. It’s still very easy to achieve all the same results as face to face lessons, especially if you take the advice explained on this page.
Here are some tips to optimise learning an instrument via video link:
With guitar, it helps if you tutor can see both your hands. You might need to get a little further away from the camera than you’d expect, so that we can see the whole fretboard, plus your picking hand. Try to keep the angle of the guitar quite flat against the camera so that we can see all your fingers equally.
Depending on your Skype settings, it can be hard to hear both speech and guitar at the same time. Try to not play and talk at the same time, and try to not play or talk over your teacher. This will keep things smooth and easy to hear everything!
There are many options here. A great option is to place the camera where the students eyes would be in a face-to-face lesson environment: next to the person sitting at the piano, looking down at the keys diagonally. It’s far important to capture the keys than it is to capture your face! If you are using a laptop then it can be quite easy to achieve the downwards angle, however if you’re using a phone or tablet, it will be fine to simply have a flat angle. Try using multiple items to prop up your phone/tablet as best you can. Your teacher can help find a great angle for you!
Depending on your Skype settings, it can be hard to hear both speech and piano at the same time. Try to not play and talk at the same time, and try to not play or talk over your teacher. This will keep things smooth and easy to hear everything!
Drums are perfectly easy to learn through Skype. Something that can help your tutor to see what you are doing is finding the right camera angle. See this video as an example of the ‘over the hi-hat’ shot, which lets your tutor see with great detail every drum, both your hands, and even your feet. We find that putting a tablet, laptop, webcam or phone on a chair, table, or music stand next to the drumkit is a great way to be able to achieve this angle. Remember, if you can’t quite get this camera angle, that’s totally fine and your lessons can still go ahead easily.
Drums are loud! Depending on how you have your Skype audio settings configured, playing too loud might could sound like mush at your tutor’s end! There are two things you can do to help:
- Make sure ‘Automatically adjust microphone settings’ is turned on in the ‘Audio & Video’ settings.
- Don’t play crazy loud!
Drummers are lucky that they can still learn to play on any surface they can find! Of course, a drum kit is recommended, however it is far from necessary. A practice pad a fantastic, cheap, and quiet replacement. You can still learn so much about rhythm, rudiments, beats, feel and more without a full kit.
For music production students, we have some fancy technological fixes for you. This video explains how to set up an amazingly high audio definition stream, which you can share with your tutor. Your tutor will have the same, which they can share with you too. The video platform Zoom is great to use in conjunction with the audio streaming software, so you can share your screen and high res audio in real time with your tutor, in order to continue working on your productions and songwriting!
An awesome feature of Zoom is that it allows remote access through screen sharing. Essentially, your tutor can access control your software, in front of your eyes, and you both hear the great audio! It’s all very safe through Zoom, so you have nothing to worry about.
Something to be aware of is latency, or lag, especially while using remote access. If you are demonstrating something complicated, try not to blast through it at top speed as some of the audio changes might not keep up with what’s happening visually at the other end. Be sure to ask your tutor how the connection is, and work together at an appropriate speed.
It’s important to note that none of the above is crucial! The most important thing is that you can see and hear things well from our end, which we already have sorted. If you simply have a computer set up with Zoom, you’re fine to learn with us. Screen sharing and high res audio streaming is online for the extra tech-savvy!
Luckily for vocal students, almost anything goes! However, it is great for your tutor to be able to see your posture, so try setting the camera up far away enough so that it can capture your whole body in a standing position.
If you’re standing a metre or two away from the camera/microphone, it may be hard to hear you unless you’re facing the microphone. Don’t forget to face the sound device!
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