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Topic Options
#1936172 - 08/02/12 03:37 AM Skype lessons equipment setup ideas
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
Could anyone who's had experience with Skype piano lessons provide ideas as to the setup, especially the camera location?

I need to get ready for skype lessons to start next week and I'd appreciate all the help I can get.

Thanks,
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#1936197 - 08/02/12 06:51 AM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: Tech 5]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2305
Loc: Sydney
Hi Virginia
So you're gonna go with your Mac ? Assuming it's a laptop, here are a couple of suggestions.

Option 1. At the side of your piano, put two side tables on top of each other.
At the beginning when you're chatting, just stand up (face is level with the built-in camera, your face will be huge but so what ?).
When you play, push down the lid of your Mac at a severe downward angle so your hands can be viewed at your keyboard (you will be very low down, but it works).

Option 2. If you can put a high table at the side of your piano, pile about 7 thick books on top of each other.
Put your Mac on top.

Not easy to explain. I recommend Skyping with a friend, and asking them if they can see you and your keyboard OK. Try to do this before your lesson.

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#1936234 - 08/02/12 08:13 AM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: Tech 5]
TheodorN Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1210
Loc: Helsingborg, Sweden
Some teachers might be willing to let you call them on Skype, just to see if the setup is satisfactory, or they give a free trial lesson anyway which can be used partly for this purpose.
_________________________
My YouTube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/thenorbass1

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#1936310 - 08/02/12 11:28 AM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: Tech 5]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
I would recommend, if possible, to use a separate camera to the built in computer one.

The reason for this, is so that you can give the teacher a good view of your hands, whilst not having to keep turning around, to see your teacher.

If possible, a camera mounted on a microphone boom stand, or similar, can easily be positioned anywhere you want, and you can then position the computer monitor, where it is most comfortable for you to see while you are playing.
_________________________
Rob

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#1936327 - 08/02/12 12:18 PM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: R0B]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1921
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: R0B
I would recommend, if possible, to use a separate camera to the built in computer one.

The reason for this, is so that you can give the teacher a good view of your hands, whilst not having to keep turning around, to see your teacher.


I think this is an absolute necessity. You need to be able to see your instructor as you are playing and he/she needs to see your keyboard at the same time.

I do not know anything about a MAC but I would hope you can connect a separate WEBCAM to it and use that.

And very definitely test things by calling someone before your lesson.


Edited by dmd (08/02/12 12:19 PM)
_________________________
Don

Current: ES7, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, Ravenscroft275, Ivory II American Concert D, Pianoteq 5

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#1936445 - 08/02/12 04:39 PM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: custard apple]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
Thanks for the recommendations. I plan to have a Skype session with my daughter tomorrow. Hopefully, I can get her to give me an idea about the angle. I'm going to use the MAC. I have a "one on one" session scheduled with a MAC Tec on Sat. I hope he'll be able to tell me how to connect the camera.

I have a labtop adjustable stand. But haven't figured out exactly what to do about the camera.

Thanks again for your help.
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#1936450 - 08/02/12 04:44 PM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: R0B]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
Rob,
Thanks for your recommendations. My teacher has suggested I have a external webcam also. How does it connect to the computer?...through a USB port?

Another question..how does one connect a microphone and headphones in the computer when there appears to be only one in/out audio port? Is it possible to get an external audio port?

Thanks


Edited by Virginia Larson (08/02/12 07:15 PM)
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#1936452 - 08/02/12 04:48 PM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: dmd]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
I think the first session is going to be a trial run, but I'm hoping to be prepared enough that its all set up perfectly and we can have a real piano lesson time.

Is the best view provided for the teacher straight down on the keyboard...around middle C or will it be better to see the keyboard from the side?

Thanks for your help.
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#1936560 - 08/02/12 08:33 PM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: Tech 5]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1921
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: Virginia Larson
Is the best view provided for the teacher straight down on the keyboard...around middle C or will it be better to see the keyboard from the side ?


I wouldn't worry too much about those details. Just be able to adjust things to your teacher's wishes. Usually a view that simulates what a teacher would see sitting next to you will work fine.
_________________________
Don

Current: ES7, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, Ravenscroft275, Ivory II American Concert D, Pianoteq 5

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#1936647 - 08/02/12 11:02 PM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: Tech 5]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Virginia Larson
Rob,
Thanks for your recommendations. My teacher has suggested I have a external webcam also. How does it connect to the computer?...through a USB port?

Another question..how does one connect a microphone and headphones in the computer when there appears to be only one in/out audio port? Is it possible to get an external audio port?

Thanks


I am not too familiar with Macs, but it should be possible to connect a USB webcam. (USB extension cables can be had, if the webcam cable is too short)Also USB external mics are available.
Your tech should be able to advise you on this.

I would have thought, also, that Macs have separate mic in, and audio out ports, although many webcams come with a built in microphone. These can vary enormously in quality, so an external mic would be preferred.

I am not a fan of using combined mic/headsets. I use an external mic and speakers. (If you are using a laptop the internal speaker quality will not be that great)

I would also recommend that in the 'audio settings' of the Skype program itself, (under 'Tools'>'Options')you uncheck the boxes: 'Automatically adjust microphone settings', and 'Automatically adjust speaker settings'.
This will prevent sudden fluctuations in volume at either end, though, as always, your results may vary smile
_________________________
Rob

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#1938005 - 08/06/12 03:50 AM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: R0B]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
"would also recommend that in the 'audio settings' of the Skype program itself, (under 'Tools'>'Options')you uncheck the boxes: 'Automatically adjust microphone settings', and 'Automatically adjust speaker settings'.
This will prevent sudden fluctuations in volume at either end, though, as always, your results may vary "

Thanks for this great advice, Rob. I never would have thought of it. Lessons is tomorrow. Everything is set up. I'm so excited!
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#1938060 - 08/06/12 09:07 AM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: Tech 5]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
Good luck for tomorrow smile

Just relax and enjoy your lesson, imagining that your teacher is merely feet away!
_________________________
Rob

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#1938213 - 08/06/12 02:21 PM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: Tech 5]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
And let us know how it goes. I'm sure there are plenty of us out there with further curiosity about how Skype lessons work out.
_________________________
Oops... extremely distracted by mandolins at the moment... brb

neglected piano blog

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#1939274 - 08/08/12 10:48 AM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: Tech 5]
FarmGirl Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 2021
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
I am very curious about it too. My best friend is a piano teacher and she is thinking about setting up skype lessons as my her guinea pig. She moved to an area where there aren't so many families with children. So she needs to think of something like this. Let us know how your lesson goes. It will be great if you can share with us your experience. Thanks.
_________________________
Solo - Rachmaninoff Elegie Op 3 #1, Schumann Op 12 Warum and Grillen and Mozart K 475 Fantasy C minor
Collaboration - Concerto in C for Oboe and orchestra attributed to Haydn edited by Evelyn Rosewell


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#1939710 - 08/09/12 04:14 AM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: FarmGirl]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
The first Skype lesson was great! It took a while to get going but once all was set, it worked great. The teacher was able to set me at ease from the start. I wasn't the least bit nervous which was always the case with the local teacher.

My teacher made two short videos of what we covered in the lessons to remind me of what and how I should practice. This was very helpful!

My second lesson will be tomorrow evening. Two lessons this week because the teacher is going on vacation soon.

I absolutely love skype piano lessons!
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#1939713 - 08/09/12 04:26 AM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: R0B]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
Rob,

Do you have any idea as to where or if I can find a webcam with remote control zoom capabilities?

I'm using a Logitec C920 webcam mounted on a tripod, but my teacher would like me to be able to zoom in on my hands at times. With the current equipment the only way he can see a closeup of my hands on the keyboard is to tilt the laptop, which is located on a laptop adjustable stand. This works but its a little cumbersome to change the laptop around. It would be better if we could leave the camera selection on the external webcam for the duration of his observation of my playing.

Thanks for your help.
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

Top
#1939841 - 08/09/12 12:05 PM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: Tech 5]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
Hi Virginia,

Pleased the lesson went well.

As for a remote control zoom cam, I am sure they exist. A Google search should throw some up.

This might be overkill for your needs, but it is a great little setup:
http://www.trackercam.com/TCamWeb/index.htm
the Tracker-pod is available separately, as you already have the webcam.
http://www.trackercam.com/TCamWeb/productdes.htm


Personally, I have a few standard camcorder type cameras that I use as webcams. These all have hand held remotes, for zooming, and I find them very useful.
These cameras are connected to a video switch unit (also with remote control) for switching cameras on the fly.
This box is connected to a video capture card in the PC, which I use with Skype.
_________________________
Rob

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#1940142 - 08/10/12 02:33 AM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: R0B]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
"A Google search should throw some up."

I've done extensive google searching for this piece of equipment and have come to the conclusion that it doesn't exist. A camcorder appears to be the only option for remote control zoom capabilities, which is too expensive an option for right now. Maybe I'll ask Santa to bring me one.:)

Thanks, anyway.
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#1940346 - 08/10/12 01:43 PM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: Tech 5]
TheodorN Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1210
Loc: Helsingborg, Sweden
Are you sure you can't zoom the C920 webcam? I have a C510, which is a less advanced model and I can zoom it. There should be a zoom control in the control window.

I don't know what I haven't tried in positioning my webcam when recording performances, I've put it on wire hanger between two stacks of books, on the legs of a tripod and on the back of my standlamp, just to name some of the things I've tried.


Edited by Pianotehead (08/10/12 01:48 PM)
_________________________
My YouTube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/thenorbass1

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#1941202 - 08/12/12 04:24 AM Re: Skype lessons equipment setup ideas [Re: TheodorN]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
"There should be a zoom control in the control window."

There is no control window that I'm aware of. It appears the zoom capability on the C920 is controlled by the computer program that is loaded at install. However, since I have a MAC it was unneccesary to install the windows based program, which wouldn't have helped anyway because we are working through Skype. Its the handheld remote control zoom that is needed in this case.

However, I have a new camera position to try at the next lesson and that is the C920 located on adjustable tripod, which is set at the lowerest position on the tripod, and positioned at end of the piano, right side, pointed at the keyboard. This gives a good closeup view of my hands and hopefully will alleviate the need to move the laptop around.

Thanks,
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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