Moving Music Instruction Online

Music teachers across the globe are struggling with the reality that they cannot bend time/space to their will and teach music synchronously as they’ve done in the past. Modifying instruction and understanding the limitations that online instruction impose will help make a meaningful learning experience for your students.

Mike from Brooklyn provides some great ideas on how to make the most of teaching online using something as simple as the mobile phone you already have. Again, understanding the limitations of camera angles and microphone performance and adapting are key to having successful online lesson

Here’s a summary of top points from his video:

  • General
    • Sit at a 45° angle from the camera for wind instruments so students can see the embouchure and fingers
    • Lighting is always important (no light behind you)
    • Student(s) and instructor should be in a quiet environment
    • Number your measures – students and teachers to make conversation about the music more efficient
  • Phone Challenges
    • Audio compression is significant. Sit farther away from the phone when performing and move physically closer when talking
    • Put phone on a tripod or some sort of a stand to avoid “difficult” angles
    • Put phone on do not disturb during lesson
    • Don’t use earphones or AirPods

For those on the Zoom platform, the most important item is to enable original sound. For folks at Duke, my team has published an article about optimizing sound for music on Zoom.

In a recent conversation with Brooks Frederickson from Duke’s Department Of Music, we both agreed that making sure the sound going into the computer is the best it can be is critically important. Using a headset mic or your computer’s built in mic will start your audio’s life off at a disadvantage so any challenges along the way will only make a bad sound worse.

In their testing, they’ve found that the reasonably priced Røde NT-USB mic is a great all purpose mic for use with many types of instruments. This pressure gradient mic features a JFET impedance converter with bipolar output buffer, A/D converter 16bit 48kHz to make it extremely flexible for voice and instrument use.

They are also experimenting with two interesting technologies.

They are using Cleanfeed to handle the audio collaboration while using Zoom to handle video. It offers built in recording, conferencing and a mixer to help give you much better control of your audio.

Soundtrap is a web based DAW that allows you to produce asynchronous collaborative music projects. Each individual performance will be in sync since you all will be playing with the same track. Brooks aptly described this as “Google Docs for music creation”. This could be used as a new approach to producing ensemble performances.

Please comment below for any tips/tricks that you’re employing to help continue music education through this challenging time.


This entry was posted on Friday, August 21st, 2020 at 10:30 am and is filed under Audio, Zoom. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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