Lessons over Skype ?

Posted by: edhamgtr

Lessons over Skype ? - 01/16/13 06:48 PM

Hello all,

I'm interested in taking lessons over skype and was wondering how effective teachers are finding it.

I'm a professional musician (guitarist) and have always wanted to become a proficient pianist. Skype would save travel time and potentially connect me with a great teacher.

Your comments and opinions would be greatly appreciated as well as any recommendations for skype teachers.

thanks!
Posted by: Scott Coletta

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/16/13 09:51 PM

I find teaching over Skype to be really good for the most part. I've been doing it for almost 2 years and the only challenge with it to me is just the occassional tech glitch. But I think it depends on the teacher. Some say it's too limiting, which I can understand if you are really concerned about tone, dynamics, and other things that are affected by the "digitization". I think it's best suited for adults who are primarily into popular stuff... jazz, blues, etc. and for those at a level where self-evaluation is fairly reliable. And it's certainly important that the teacher is very good at explaining things since demonstration is somewhat limited.
Posted by: dmd

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/16/13 10:43 PM

I have been doing Skype lessons, off and on, for a few years and believe in it when you cannot find a suitable teacher locally. I think I would rather have a local teacher but I like working with jazz stuff and I am finding it difficult to find a really good jazz teacher in my locale.

It is also very nice to be able to have the lessons right on your own piano and also not having to travel to the teacher's studio.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/17/13 08:15 AM

There are pros and cons to it, but I would recommend that you first study with someone in person, then when you get the basics you can do Skype. There's a lot of hands-on technique work that really can only be addressed in person.

I get to see my Skype students during Christmas and over the summer months, so I can address issues then. Of course, it's not as good as meeting with them in person every week where I can tackle those things right away. However, if there's no other option, it is better than nothing. But I stress that it should be a last resort.
Posted by: UrLicht

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/17/13 02:39 PM

Quote:
There are pros and cons to it, but I would recommend that you first study with someone in person, then when you get the basics you can do Skype. There's a lot of hands-on technique work that really can only be addressed in person.


It's hard for me to imagine what a Skype lesson would be like. Do you feel like you waste a lot of time getting your camera (I assume camera and not a phone or ipad) pointing in the right direction so you can observe technique, etc? It seems to me like there would be a lot of fiddling involved.
Posted by: dmd

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/17/13 08:17 PM

Originally Posted By: UrLicht
It's hard for me to imagine what a Skype lesson would be like. Do you feel like you waste a lot of time getting your camera (I assume camera and not a phone or ipad) pointing in the right direction so you can observe technique, etc? It seems to me like there would be a lot of fiddling involved.


Not really. You make sure you have the right things available to enable you to place the webcam where you need it. Then you just do it. I usually place the webcam peering over my left shoulder and down at the keyboard. My instructor says it is perfect. After that, I just play and the instructor talks. Occasionally he will demonstrate something for me to see on his keyboard. It works very well.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/18/13 12:07 AM

Originally Posted By: UrLicht
Quote:
There are pros and cons to it, but I would recommend that you first study with someone in person, then when you get the basics you can do Skype. There's a lot of hands-on technique work that really can only be addressed in person.


It's hard for me to imagine what a Skype lesson would be like. Do you feel like you waste a lot of time getting your camera (I assume camera and not a phone or ipad) pointing in the right direction so you can observe technique, etc? It seems to me like there would be a lot of fiddling involved.


I have my laptop on a table to the side of the piano so students can see the keys. Sometimes I need to show them something I'm demonstrating (vs just playing it) in which case I just move the laptop to a better angle for that. For the most part, however, once you figure out a good overall angle then you stick with it.

When I started teaching Skype, I allowed and extra 15 minutes in between each lesson to accommodate technical difficulties. After a while, however, this became unnecessary.
Posted by: davefrank

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/18/13 05:28 AM

This is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'm now doing about 70% of my practice with Skype and it works great and allows folks in "non-jazz" parts of the world to reach their dreams..

I recently had a visit in NYC from a skype student I worked with from New Dehli, whom previously I knew only from skype teaching. When we met in person, i saw that he had come as far in one year through skype as any student I ever had had come from live lessons.

smile

Dave Frank
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/18/13 09:44 AM

My son works with a professor at a distant university via Skype. This is on Baroque flute, mind you, not piano.

It's a godsend, despite its limitations. The limitations are obvious. Tone is distorted, so that part of musicality, which is quite important on a woodwind, cannot really be addressed. Secondly, duo playing is impossible due to the delay. Likewise, this is more important on a woodwind than on the piano. Lastly, the details of hand technique are clearly harder to deal with via video link than in person.

Despite these drawbacks, the opportunity for direct instruction from an expert overwhelms the drawbacks.

In our case, the limitations are eased because we occasionally pay the expense of going "there" for some face-to-face instruction. The combination of the in-person work together with Skype lessons has led to amazingly rapid progress.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/18/13 10:16 AM

Is this Piano*Son? Who is also now Baroque*Flute*Son? (And did I notice you mention that he's also Harpsichord*Son?) And your other son is French*Horn*Son?
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/18/13 10:25 AM

No, no. P*S is still the one who plays piano and horn. Flute*Son is the one who has picked up Baroque and Celtic. In fact, it's F*S who may wind up conservatory trained. The irony was noted by F*S himself a few days ago. smile
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/18/13 10:35 AM

Ah! It's lovely to hear about so much music in Piano*Family.
Posted by: Bluoh

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/18/13 12:52 PM

I started teaching through the internet last month, and it's worked quite well. I'd offered free lessons here as an act of kindness, but I was definitely surprised to discover how well it worked out.

Although the audio dropped sometimes (and there was a bit of disortion), all of the students found the lessons helpful. (If you look in my past posts, you'll see a thread that I started for online lessons; I think there might be some lesson feedback that you can look into there.)
Posted by: plbpusa

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/19/13 01:17 AM

Interesting, lessons over Skype... Never imagined doing that, but good idea. smile
Posted by: lechuan

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/19/13 08:33 PM

I take a mix of lessons over Skype/Facetime and in-person lessons with my teacher. It works very well, assuming both sides have decent internet connections. The only things that I've seen so far that don't work too well is duet playing (impossible due to the delay).

What I'd really like to do is find a way to hook up a MIDI piano to an onscreen keyboard to make it easier for the student to see/record what the teacher is playing when they demo. Does anyone know of any software that does this?
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/19/13 11:16 PM

One issue with Skype is that dynamics are pretty much negated. I usually request students change the settings in Skype so that it doesn't automatically adjust for variations in volume, but with those are not less technically savvy this can be rather difficult to accomplish. Of course, with this then you end up with distortion on louder notes.
Posted by: Larry C

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/20/13 06:58 AM

I too have used Skype for lessons ... normally I take lessons in person at my teachers studio, but when I am gone for extended periods I use Skype and it works pretty well
Posted by: Bluoh

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/22/13 12:55 AM

Actually, I've used Facetime too; it works better (I find) when both people have Apple devices.
Posted by: Chad F

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/22/13 01:13 AM

I've built a platform specifically for online piano lessons and am slowly working on getting all of my students online.

I agree with Dave, video lessons are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Maybe even the greatest thing (education-wise) since the printing press, sheet music and recordings.

Here's a recent news article about teaching piano online http://www.burnabynewsleader.com/business/185951131.html
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/22/13 08:43 AM

Chad, two questions for you, if I may. How do you deal with things that are not computer-friendly, such as correcting theory work or technique work?

I also find that a lot breaks down at the end of the student, where they may have less-than-ideal hardware or a slow internet connection. Do you have minimum requirements for your students, or do you just make the best of it and let the student know that the issue is on their end?
Posted by: Bluoh

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/22/13 01:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Chad, two questions for you, if I may. How do you deal with things that are not computer-friendly, such as correcting theory work or technique work?

I also find that a lot breaks down at the end of the student, where they may have less-than-ideal hardware or a slow internet connection. Do you have minimum requirements for your students, or do you just make the best of it and let the student know that the issue is on their end?


And to add to that: are you using Skype, Facetime, or some other software?
Posted by: Chad F

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/22/13 03:50 PM

Hi Morodiene, good questions.

Quote:
How do you deal with things that are not computer-friendly, such as correcting theory work or technique work?


I convert everything to pdfs and post them to their page so they can print them out and work with them (if we're not working from the same book). Then part of the lesson is spent reviewing the exercises. I give students the option to scan or take a decent snapshot of their work and email it to me ahead of time if they want to maximize their lesson time. Working on technique is just a matter of getting them to position their camera in the right spot. I always recommend an external usb camera so they have some positioning options, but you can get away with a laptop camera and a music stand or a table/stool beside the piano.

Quote:
Do you have minimum requirements for your students, or do you just make the best of it and let the student know that the issue is on their end?


Yes, I've got a button within the site that runs a series of tests on their computer and internet connection and will determine how well it will work for them and make recommendations for a better experience. I've also built in an 'audio only' button which can hide the students video and/or the teachers video. This works well if the there is a bottleneck in the connection and the video starts to lag. It also helps encourage students to use their ears. Afterall, that's what it's all about! smile
Posted by: Chad F

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/22/13 04:08 PM

Hey Bluoh,

Quote:
And to add to that: are you using Skype, Facetime, or some other software?


I've (with the help of a couple of top-notch developers) built video conferencing into the web application (which is built with Ruby on Rails). It works just as well as Skype or Facetime and it all happens in the browser without any downloads. This is great because it enables everything to be in one place and I can optimize it for learning piano. For example, I've built a 'piano view' which makes the viewing screen longer and narrower so students can get a closer look at what the fingers are doing. The typical 4:3 or 16:9 ratio is not ideal for pianos because you have to have the camera so far away in order to get all the keys in. The platform isn't 100% perfect (yet!), but I love teaching with it so far. My goal is to make it easy and convenient enough to get some of the best teachers and players in the world using it (baby steps, baby steps. smile ).
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/23/13 08:55 AM

Chad, I'd love to try it out! Is it live yet? I'd love to be a beta tester if you need one wink
Posted by: Chad F

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/24/13 08:27 PM

Hey Morodiene, yep it's live now. I'll Direct Message you.
Posted by: Bluoh

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 01/25/13 12:45 AM

Hey Chad, sounds interesting-- I'd love to try it out too. smile And I just noticed that you're from Vancouver. smile
Posted by: RonR

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 02/24/13 07:41 AM

If you find the right teacher, and the lessons are planned and well organized, it can be very effective. There are advantages and disadvantages. The 2 biggest advantages are: 1 - You can record the lesson via your laptop with recording software, so if you didn't understand something or forgot something you can go back and review the lesson. 2 - Convenience. The biggest disadvantage I find is when the teacher is demonstrating something it, may take a little longer because of the visual limitation. I found and incredible online teacher, that emails me a lesson plan right after the lesson, which details everything he wants me to work on during the week. He also goes way over the alotted time as long as he doesn't have another lesson immediately after mine. He feels the extra time spent makes up for any technologoical limitations. I doubt every teacher would do all the extras, but if you are fortunate enought to find someone that is passionate about teaching and music as I did, I think you will succeed.
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 02/24/13 02:39 PM

Hello all,

I'm interested in taking lessons over skype and was wondering how effective teachers are finding it.

I'm a professional musician (guitarist) and have always wanted to become a proficient pianist. Skype would save travel time and potentially connect me with a great teacher.

Your comments and opinions would be greatly appreciated as well as any recommendations for skype teachers.

thanks!

As a professional musician, you are half way there because you can read music. Skype is aweome because some of the best piano teachers are in Russian and Skype can be anywhere on the planet. While skype can save you traveling time, guitars are carried in one hand and keyboards with 88 weighted keys keyboards are 30 pounds and are awkward to carry. I am not sure how Skype students pay for their lessons over the internet, especially in foreign currency but perhaps you have some experience. Good luck and best wishes. A piano is also an awesome instrument to learn and play like the guitar.
Posted by: Exalted Wombat

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 02/24/13 03:35 PM

You must be much more fortunate with Skype than I am! When there's serious work to be done, I usually end up giving up and making a 'phone call.
Posted by: currawong

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 02/24/13 04:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Michael_99
Hello all,

I'm interested in taking lessons over skype and was wondering how effective teachers are finding it.

I'm a professional musician (guitarist) and have always wanted to become a proficient pianist. Skype would save travel time and potentially connect me with a great teacher.

Your comments and opinions would be greatly appreciated as well as any recommendations for skype teachers.

thanks!

As a professional musician, you are half way there because you can read music. Skype is aweome because some of the best piano teachers are in Russian and Skype can be anywhere on the planet. While skype can save you traveling time, guitars are carried in one hand and keyboards with 88 weighted keys keyboards are 30 pounds and are awkward to carry. I am not sure how Skype students pay for their lessons over the internet, especially in foreign currency but perhaps you have some experience. Good luck and best wishes. A piano is also an awesome instrument to learn and play like the guitar.
Hi Michael. I've noticed that in your posts it's hard to know what's the quote from someone else and what's your contribution, so I thought it might help to just explain that if you want to quote someone else you can hit the "quote" button at the bottom of the post you wish to quote. You then get a reply box with the other post already quoted. You then just add your bit. You can also delete bits of the quote to target exactly what you're replying to. Hope this helps, because sometimes it looks like you're saying what you're actually not! smile
cheers, currawong
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 02/24/13 04:28 PM

Thanks currawong, I didn't know how people quoted. Thanks for taking the time to show me how to quote.
Posted by: Chris Goslow

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 02/25/13 02:29 AM

I've taught three different students using Skype, and mostly, I would say it was a very positive experience. In one case, I went several months without seeing this student in person, and instead doing the Skype lessons, and when I finally did, I noticed some flaws in his playing that I had completely missed over Skype.
Nonetheless, Skype is definitely great for discussion, such as discussion of theory, or composition-related lessons. I'd say overall that for me, if the focus of the lesson is primarily the student's playing, it is nice to be there in person with the student. Yet I see great potential in Skype lessons and don't rule it out.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 02/25/13 08:16 AM

Originally Posted By: Chris Goslow
I've taught three different students using Skype, and mostly, I would say it was a very positive experience. In one case, I went several months without seeing this student in person, and instead doing the Skype lessons, and when I finally did, I noticed some flaws in his playing that I had completely missed over Skype.
Nonetheless, Skype is definitely great for discussion, such as discussion of theory, or composition-related lessons. I'd say overall that for me, if the focus of the lesson is primarily the student's playing, it is nice to be there in person with the student. Yet I see great potential in Skype lessons and don't rule it out.


Yes, I agree..sometimes you have to ask more questions from the student because you are unable to really observe things normally - things like "how does that passage feel?" or "how are you fingering measure 25?". So a bit less efficient in that respect, but again, a great substitute if nothing else is available. I do recommend that anyone doing Skype lessons get to see their teacher at least once in a while (every 6 months or so) in order to catch these things in person.
Posted by: Stanny

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 02/25/13 06:18 PM

I finally had the opportunity do teach some online lessons last week due to the snow. Three used skype and one used facetime, and they were all really productive lessons! It's hard if you don't have the exact piece of music in front of you, and it's not perfect, but it sure beats missing a lesson (I have a no-makeup policy.)
Posted by: Chris Goslow

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 02/26/13 02:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene


Yes, I agree..sometimes you have to ask more questions from the student because you are unable to really observe things normally - things like "how does that passage feel?" or "how are you fingering measure 25?". So a bit less efficient in that respect, but again, a great substitute if nothing else is available. I do recommend that anyone doing Skype lessons get to see their teacher at least once in a while (every 6 months or so) in order to catch these things in person.


Hey Morodiene:

Yes, personally, I agree that in-person lessons are ideal. Yet Skype lessons are obviously quite practical in some cases (one of my students lives in Southampton, England... so me being in California, Skype was the only way we were going to have lessons!) Currently, I'm actually teaching my dad mostly via Skype. He lives 80 miles away, I'm in Sacramento, he's in San Francisco. What has usually happened is that about once a month he comes over here for a studio workshop or visit, and afterward we have an in person lesson. It really helps with the learning process. Maybe it's a matter of knowing how to best teach a student over skype. I think it's good experience to have, yet it also makes me value the in person lessons.
Posted by: Chris Goslow

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 02/26/13 02:27 PM

Originally Posted By: Stanny
I finally had the opportunity do teach some online lessons last week due to the snow. Three used skype and one used facetime, and they were all really productive lessons! It's hard if you don't have the exact piece of music in front of you, and it's not perfect, but it sure beats missing a lesson (I have a no-makeup policy.)


Hey Stanny:

You're right about that! I also have a no make-up policy, and in a couple of instances, a student couldn't make the lesson, so instead we did it from Skype. It was nice to still be able to give her value that week.
Posted by: attaboy

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 03/25/13 02:22 AM

Hi all,

I'm planning on taking some combined piano/alexander technique skype lessons from a teacher who has already given me one face to face lesson. But continuance of face to face is prohibitive since she lives too far away from me. A problem, however, is finding a way to get up to speed with skype well enough so that it does not hinder the actual lesson since I am just now learning about skype. No one I know uses skype and I would like to have someone I can do a video call with to be sure I've mastered skype well enough to get the most out of the lessons. For one thing I've seen that getting to full screen could be a problem though that may not be the case if I do a video call with someone. If there's anyone on this site that is in the same predicament and would like to partner up with me in helping to get over this learning hump, I'd appreciate hearing from you. Alternately, if any of you have any suggestions for me I'd appreciate hearing those as well. Given the nature of the lessons, which would be combining piano with alexander, I realize there will be limitations with skype. But I still feel I can get great benefit from this arrangement.
Posted by: kingston250

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 03/25/13 03:27 AM

Lessons on Skype is a good idea and its really useful for those who's learning from books or tutorials so this will be also useful for me to learn on Skype so can anyone guide me where i can found the Skype lessons.
Posted by: attaboy

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 03/25/13 04:11 AM

Originally Posted By: kingston250
Lessons on Skype is a good idea and its really useful for those who's learning from books or tutorials so this will be also useful for me to learn on Skype so can anyone guide me where i can found the Skype lessons.


I've learned a lot by going to skype.com. You can go from there thru many categories. You probably will need to register - choose a name and password. At the top you can click on Learn or Support to get more info. I'm close to a point where I need to find a partner to try to do a video call to be sure I know how to use skype. If you want to partner with me or if I can help you in any other way, please don't hesitate to contact me on this site.
Posted by: Bluoh

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 05/17/13 09:09 PM

Have you had piano lessons before?

I've taught over Skype and it works nicely for the most part, but I would recommend a live teacher if you're totally new and you're just starting out, because there are things, like posture, that are way better with a live teacher.
Posted by: R0B

Re: Lessons over Skype ? - 05/17/13 09:34 PM

Hi Attaboy,

Just a couple of tips for getting the best out of Skype..

Be sure the room is well lit.
Keep any background noise to a minimum
Full screen is simply a mouse click away.
In the Skype 'Tools/Options/Audio settings, un-check the 'automatic' settings. (to avoid sudden changes in volume)
Make sure you are both using the same/latest version of the program.

If you have a second computer, you could set up a separate Skype account, and 'Skype yourself' to get some idea of how it will look and sound, to the teacher, and tweak settings accordingly.