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#2055916 - 03/28/13 10:39 PM Thoughts on lessons over the internet
Brad Hoehne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/22/11
Posts: 365
Loc: Ohio
Hi gang,

I was teleconferencing on a new system at work the other day, and it occurred to me that technology has reached the point where it would be possible to conduct live piano lessons over the internet using a laptop or some sort of pad with a camera and a microphone. Bandwidth is sufficient now for pretty decent video and audio- decent enough to get a good sense of what a student is playing and a good view of their hands on the keyboard.

It would seem that this sort of thing could be useful for students in remote areas where there are not many teachers, or for students who would like to work with a specific prestigious or specialized teacher from outside their area. It might also be helpful for those of limited financial means, who could pay for a talented teacher from, for instance, an Eastern European country who might charge a significantly lower per hour rate.

A few questions: Is this done? Does anyone have any experience with this? What technology would be the easiest, yet most effective, to work with?

In my experience, piano teachers tend to be on the "traditional" side when it comes to teaching methods (please correct this if my experience has been biased), so I expect that a number of folks might suggest face-to-face teaching is the only effective way to conduct piano lessons. However, if there's anyone out there who has an experience, positive or negative, that they 'd like to share, I'd be interested to hear about it.
_________________________
1999 Petrof 125-111 (upright)
Casio Privia PX-330

Currently working on:
Rach. Prelude Op 32 #12
Mozart Piano Sonata #17, K570
Villa-Lobos, Bachianas Brasileiras #4
Playing by ear and "filling out" pop tunes

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#2055945 - 03/28/13 11:53 PM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: Brad Hoehne]
pianopaws Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/18/13
Posts: 66
Loc: North Carolina, USA
There is a thread in this forum about lessons via Skype you might check out. It was active a few days ago. I have also read of teachers doing lessons using FaceTime. So, yes, Internet lessons are being done! I'm sure other teachers can chime in who have taught lessons this way.
_________________________
M.M., Piano performance and pedagogy
Member, MTNA and NCMTA

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#2055959 - 03/29/13 12:13 AM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: Brad Hoehne]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Interesting question, Brad,


Teleconferencing has been done all over the world for at least 10 or 15 years saving millions of dollars.

But there is nothing better than having a person being present.

Traditionally, a teacher and student meet and the lesson starts and the focus is on the student playing his music and the teacher teaching something new. There is always lots of back and forth discussion, hand position, body position, discussion, pointing out parts of the music. Always in video conferencing, there is a camera operator who also adjusts the sound and camera operation.

I realize in time there will be no teachers and no schools because they are expensive build and to operate and in the future kids will never leave home because it will be cheaper to teach them at home and not have to build schools and pay teachers. Just hire one teacher and do it on the internet.

I try to buy music books from the local music store else they will go out of business. But, of course, the world is always full of change and we have to change with it.

In my city there is one record store and a few movie theatres where there used to be dozens. Book stores are closing. So enjoy your teachers while you have them.

In a city near where I live they have installed cameras in the area because criminals are dumping dead bodies there almost every week. But police earn at least $60.00 an hour so installing cameras operating 24 hours a day is cheap after the city has paid for the camera. So cameras replace all sorts of people, piano teahers and police for starters.



Edited by Michael_99 (03/29/13 12:17 AM)

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#2055980 - 03/29/13 01:02 AM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: Brad Hoehne]
pianoSD Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 57
Loc: San Diego, CA
While most of my lessons are done in person and locally here in San Diego, I do have two students who I teach online. They found me through the website in my signature.

My experience has been of two complete opposites with these two students. With one student, who lives in Dallas, we have had very effective lessons. This is because of the following reasons:

1. We both have stable, fast internet connections.
2. We use Skype.
3. We both play through keyboards into an audio interface for our computers (I use an MBox).

The second individual's lessons haven't gone so well. He lives just outside of Phoenix. In fact, the experience has been so bad that I am going to recommend him to a local teacher because the issues we are having online are making the lessons unproductive. Not to mention, its very frustrating. Here's are few reasons why:

1. He tries to connect via Facetime on a cellular connection where he doesn't have good service. The connection drops frequently, and we have to reconnect. It's not Facetime; it's him and his situation (he doesn't have home internet service apparently).
2. He sets up his iPhone on a small table next to his upright Yamaha. The audio isn't very clear, especially the lower octaves. Clipping can occur as well.

Bottom line, if your (and your student's) setup and equipment doesn't support it, I wouldn't recommend it. If it does, it can be very effective and only slightly less effective than in-person lessons. My two cents.


Edited by pianoSD (03/29/13 01:02 AM)
_________________________
My Piano Lessons - Schedule Me Online!

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#2056136 - 03/29/13 10:16 AM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: pianoSD]
Brad Hoehne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/22/11
Posts: 365
Loc: Ohio
Thank you pianoSD,

What is the workflow with the MBox and Skype? Does skype recognize the output of the MBox? Do you send the MIDI signal or a regular sound signal to the other end?
_________________________
1999 Petrof 125-111 (upright)
Casio Privia PX-330

Currently working on:
Rach. Prelude Op 32 #12
Mozart Piano Sonata #17, K570
Villa-Lobos, Bachianas Brasileiras #4
Playing by ear and "filling out" pop tunes

Top
#2056204 - 03/29/13 11:56 AM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: Brad Hoehne]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1438
Loc: Australia
I use a DP, with audio output into a small mixer.
Mixer output to an audio interface (Komplete Audio 6) which connects to the PC via USB.

Also connected to the mixer, is a condenser mic, for best quality audio. (Also, my guitars, for guitar lessons)

Cameras (3) are connected to the PC, and I use software to switch between camera angles, as needed.

PDF files can be instantly put on screen, via screen sharing, when needed.
All this over Skype, which has got better in the three years I have been teaching over the internet.

Things can only get better smile

PS Brad, I would be interested to know the teleconferencing program you used.
_________________________
Rob

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#2056207 - 03/29/13 12:00 PM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: Brad Hoehne]
pianoSD Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 57
Loc: San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Brad Hoehne
Thank you pianoSD,

What is the workflow with the MBox and Skype? Does skype recognize the output of the MBox? Do you send the MIDI signal or a regular sound signal to the other end?



Brad,

I just take one output channel of the Mbox and feed that back into the LINE input of my computer to feed Skype. It's that easy, and it works like a charm.
_________________________
My Piano Lessons - Schedule Me Online!

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#2056220 - 03/29/13 12:22 PM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: Brad Hoehne]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1438
Loc: Australia
The downside is, that we have no control over the students' setup.
Often a laptop, balanced precariously somewhere frown
_________________________
Rob

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#2056241 - 03/29/13 01:10 PM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: R0B]
pianoSD Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 57
Loc: San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: R0B
The downside is, that we have no control over the students' setup.
Often a laptop, balanced precariously somewhere frown


Exactly. This is the problem that restricts the effectiveness of online lessons.
_________________________
My Piano Lessons - Schedule Me Online!

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#2058479 - 04/02/13 11:21 PM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: pianoSD]
Miguel Rey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 284
Originally Posted By: R0B
The downside is, that we have no control over the students' setup.
Often a laptop, balanced precariously somewhere frown
Originally Posted By: pianoSD
Originally Posted By: R0B
The downside is, that we have no control over the students' setup.
Often a laptop, balanced precariously somewhere frown


Exactly. This is the problem that restricts the effectiveness of online lessons.


Recently started taking lessons via skype with very little if any issues. If you set up correctly you can get great results. What i really liked was we had a interview for about 30 mins prior to scheduling a lesson that also worked to test both our set ups to make sure there would be little or no issues, i suggest all teachers offer that to their students.

Camera to get is the logitech C920, not only good picture but compression is great thus using less bandwidth. The mike works pretty good also but I plan on getting another higher end USB mic for better sound. Also helps if your room has very little echo or is dead.
_________________________
Bechstein B c1905


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#2058582 - 04/03/13 07:57 AM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: Miguel Rey]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11417
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Miguel Rey
Originally Posted By: R0B
The downside is, that we have no control over the students' setup.
Often a laptop, balanced precariously somewhere frown
Originally Posted By: pianoSD
Originally Posted By: R0B
The downside is, that we have no control over the students' setup.
Often a laptop, balanced precariously somewhere frown


Exactly. This is the problem that restricts the effectiveness of online lessons.


Recently started taking lessons via skype with very little if any issues. If you set up correctly you can get great results. What i really liked was we had a interview for about 30 mins prior to scheduling a lesson that also worked to test both our set ups to make sure there would be little or no issues, i suggest all teachers offer that to their students.


When I started I scheduled students with a 15 minute buffer in between so that there would be time for technical issues. After a while I stopped doing this as everyone had their set up (I didn't charge students for technical time used). ! 30-minute interview might be a bit overkill if you already know the student and are just trying to get everything set up, IMO.

Quote:
Camera to get is the logitech C920, not only good picture but compression is great thus using less bandwidth. The mike works pretty good also but I plan on getting another higher end USB mic for better sound. Also helps if your room has very little echo or is dead.


A good picture is really important, however. I don't always get it because it just depends on what the student has, but I do need to be able to see their fingering. Sometimes if bandwidth is an issue, I can shut off my camera so the student can't see me but I can see them. That sometimes helps with lag.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2058634 - 04/03/13 10:18 AM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: Miguel Rey]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1438
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Miguel Rey
What i really liked was we had a interview for about 30 mins prior to scheduling a lesson that also worked to test both our set ups to make sure there would be little or no issues, i suggest all teachers offer that to their students.




I always offer a free test call, prior to starting a new student, just to be sure everything is up and running as it should be.

It also allows both parties to discuss aims and goals, and iron out any problems there may be, with camera angles/audio, etc.

As a teacher, I find that due to the inherent problems of lessons at a distance, I have to be even more attentive, than usual, to audio and visual cues, given the limitations of the medium, and that is no bad thing.


Edited by R0B (04/03/13 10:20 AM)
_________________________
Rob

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#2058695 - 04/03/13 12:41 PM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: Brad Hoehne]
dmd Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1775
Loc: Pennsylvania
I just have Skype and a Logitech web cam and I take lessons from an instructor in London.

it works fine.
_________________________
Don

My current system: Kawai ES7 + Focal CMS40 Powered Monitors, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, Mackie ProFX8 Mixer, Ravenscroft275, True Keys American Grand, Ivory II American Concert D, Steinway Basic, Galaxy Vintage D, True Pianos, Pianoteq, Alicia's Keys

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#2058908 - 04/03/13 09:08 PM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: Brad Hoehne]
pianoSD Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 57
Loc: San Diego, CA
Just found this article. Pretty insightful for the things you need to teach any type of music lessons online. Interestingly, it suggests an MBox which is what I use as well. Really helps with the audio quality (and frustration)!

https://www.onlessons.com/blog/6-things-you-need-to-teach-music-lessons-online/
_________________________
My Piano Lessons - Schedule Me Online!

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#2059451 - 04/04/13 06:21 PM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: Brad Hoehne]
Miguel Rey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 284
Not sure the benefit of having a Mbox (audio interface) over a descent USB mic unless you plan on having multiple mic's which wouldn't be a bad idea. One for the piano and another clipped to your shirt or headset.
I plan on buying a USB Yeti mic and placing it just to the right of the music desk or on a boom or use a shock mount just in case there is feedback from the vibrations of the piano. Either way should be close enough to hear my voice and piano clearly.
_________________________
Bechstein B c1905


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#2059677 - 04/05/13 08:49 AM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: Miguel Rey]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11417
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Miguel Rey
Not sure the benefit of having a Mbox (audio interface) over a descent USB mic unless you plan on having multiple mic's which wouldn't be a bad idea. One for the piano and another clipped to your shirt or headset.
I plan on buying a USB Yeti mic and placing it just to the right of the music desk or on a boom or use a shock mount just in case there is feedback from the vibrations of the piano. Either way should be close enough to hear my voice and piano clearly.


I think this may be overkill, I have never experienced a problem with hearing spoken dialogue or playing from the same mic. You can go ahead and do it, of course, but I think it's unnecessary.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2059779 - 04/05/13 11:29 AM Re: Thoughts on lessons over the internet [Re: Morodiene]
Miguel Rey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 284
If the mic is a few feet away voice still can be heard fine but its more clear and I guess more comfortable to hear someone if the mic is very close to their mouth especially if they are in a larger live room and the camera/mic combo is set up over their shoulder behind them. Like you said , a bit overkill but anything to make the experience as comfortable, less straining to hear and as much real life as possible can really be of help for some students, especially the beginning or returning students. And it's really not that expensive for a good USB mic along with a good HD camera. Bout 200 bucks for both.
_________________________
Bechstein B c1905


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