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How to prepare for the First Online Live Lesson

This page will guide you on how to enjoy the most of your Live Online Personalized Lesson, including the very first one.
 

What do you need?

A Piano

The better the instrument you have, the faster will be your musical development. However, waiting to have a grand piano at your disposal won’t help you. Start with what you have – even if it is just a simple keyboard – but keep an eye on opportunities that may show up in the way.

If you already have an acoustic piano (ideal), remember to have it tuned at least once a year and mechanically revised accordingly to your technician guidance, or at least once every 5 years.

Stable Internet connection

You may have a Fiber, ADSL, Cable, Radio, 3G/4G, or Satellite connection. Just make sure it is stable and with a low latency response (delay). To assure your internet connection will be enough for your lessons, look up “internet test”. Use any service available in your location (we usually test through speedtest.net). This test must be done from the exact point from which you’ll have your lesson.

Internet Gigabit
At PianoClass, we usually have a 2ms ping (delay) + 900Mbps download + 200Mbps upload. If you have a ping lower than 50ms + a download higher than 5Mbps + and upload higher than 1Mbps, your internet connection will be ready for your lesson. Those are the minimum requirements, considering a very stable internet without fluctuations caused by network overloading or old ISP equipment.

How you connect to your modem/router is also very important. The ideal is a cable connected directly to your modem. But if you need to use Wi-Fi, make sure you have a clear path to your modem (no walls, furniture, glass, etc…). Remember that the signal travels in straight lines and loosed power each time it passes through a solid object.

Computer/tablet/smartphone

You will need a device to connect with the internet, capture your image and sound and receive ours.

Here are a few suggestions to set up your piano studio:

Computer (ideal)

  • with built-in or external webcam – and you can use more than one
  • built-in or external microphone – if you use an external one we suggest the Blue Yeti®

Tablet/Smartphone

  • with frontal camera and microphone

Headphones or Earbuds

This is an essential feature to optimize lesson fluency. It avoids annoying echos and assures simultaneous talk without interrupting each other. Avoid any model that blocks the external sound and only use Bluetooth models when using your computer, not your tablet or smartphone. You may use wired headphones, in which case we suggest the use of an extension cord to have enough freedom of movement.

Platforms

Here are the platforms you may use to have your lessons. It is preferred to have at least two of them ready. Unpredicted events may affect which one will work better on certain days and situations.

Discord

This is our official lesson platform, as it:

  • has great image quality
  • has the best sound quality when capturing piano sound
  • allows conference call (you may use other devices as extra cameras or external mic)
  • works on PC, Mac, tablet, and smartphone

Skype

  • allows for just one camera
  • great sound quality when capturing piano sound
  • allows conference call (you may use other devices as extra cameras or external mic)
  • works on PC, Mac, tablet, and smartphone

FaceTime

  • allows for just one camera
  • good sound quality when capturing piano sound
  • only works with Apple devices

YouTube Live

  • allows for just one camera
  • has a specific configuration for instrumental streaming
  • allows conference call (you may use other devices as extra cameras or external mic)
  • the lesson is automatically recorded and available on YouTube – we always set it to private
  • works on PC, Mac, tablet, and smartphone

Other Platforms

We know that there are many other available platforms. but on most of those the sound quality is not that good. But if there is an emergency, we do have Appear.in, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Zoom, and Discord ready to go.

Sheet music and notes

It is essential that you have access to all the material offered by your teacher in and out of your lesson.

via Tablet

If you choose to use a tablet to access your sheet music, you’ll be able to see your teacher’s notes and comments during the lesson each time those are saved.
The same goes for the teacher, who will be able to check your notes at the beginning of your lesson.
Install and set up Dropbox, Dropbox Paper and a pdf editor (PDF Expert, Adobe Acrobat, …) app before your lesson.

Paper and Pencil

If you prefer a more traditional way, always keep your printed material in hand. Be sure to have a pencil and an eraser always close to the piano.
It is useful to have easy access to a printer, in case your teacher asks you to print some new material.

 

Setting up your lesson

There are only a few details that need to be considered:

Camera position

Place your main camera by the side of your piano, in a way that you can see everything from your face to the upper part of your bench. It should be high enough to have the keyboard, your arm and hand movements, your back, and your neck visible.

If you have more than one camera, you may place one at the side of the piano to show some details of your hands, or have it over the keyboard.

Screen position

You may place your device screen wherever you find comfortable, which is usually right in front of you. It is ok if you are not looking at the camera, which will happen if the screen doesn’t have a camera with it.

Microphone position

If you have an external mic, test it so you find the right place for it to acquire a balanced sound from the piano and your voice. It must capture the piano sound with a good volume, but not so loud that it blows off the mic, causing the sound to have interference along with it.

Lighting

Use as much light as possible! A well-lit room assures a much better image, independently from the camera you are using.

 

Useful tips

  • Charge your computer and all your devices (including wireless headphones) the night before your lesson.
  • Make sure that you can access Dropbox and Dropbox Paper.
  • Always have a way to take notes during the lesson.
  • You are authorized to record your own personalized lesson to review it whenever you want.
  • Make sure there is no one or anything else using your local internet during your lesson (Yes, a family member watching Netflix does count.), because it may cause lag problems.