Zoom features for music teaching
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Share your screen
The share screen function will allow you and your student to read off the same PDF score. As you are sharing your screen this means that you can open the score in a program (like Preview on a Mac) where you can annotate the score and point out sections with your cursor. Anything that you can see on the screen can be seen on the students screen. Just remember that people tend to be on smallish screens so you might need to zoom in on the score if you want to refer to small details.
Record the Lesson
It is very easy to record a Zoom lesson. Simply hit record whenever you like and a little red dot will appear on the feed showing that the session is being recorded. You have the possibility to pause the recording at any time – perhaps if you want to engage in casual conversation or there is a technical issue – and continue when you are ready.
When you end the session Zoom will take a few minutes to render a movie file that you can playback, upload to youtube or send to the student.
“Turn on Original Sound”
Zoom does have a setting that let’s you get around the dreaded sound quality that we normally experience and it is called original sound. This means that the software stops trying to be smart and detect when you are speaking and just transmits the raw audio feed of the microphone. This is GREAT but it comes with a couple of problems.
This is currently only available to the host, which means the teacher can better demonstrate sound but not the student.
It causes echo.
The sound quality gets better and in part this is because the signal gets a little more complex. The buffering needed to carry this signal puts you slightly out of synch with your student you will get an echo. The solution for this is to use headphones.
The biggest advantage of Zoom is that you can have multiple people in a “room”. This means that you can work with more than one person at a time and have a shared discussion.
When there is more than two people in a room, you can choose to toggle your screen mode from featuring the person who is talking (or making sound) to a grid of video feeds where you can see everyone.
In order for people to join your session you will need to give them a link that looks something like this
“Join Zoom Meeting
When you have a zoom account you will have a default “personal meeting room” link and also the ability to create new rooms with distinct names and links. This means that you could create a room called “Tracy’s Teaching Room” and send out the link to all your students.
When a student clicks on a link the first time they will be promoted to download the zoom app to their device. Once this has been installed for the first time it will simply launch the meeting room directly from the link. The apps are free and easy to set up, even for the technology averse.
If someone comes to a room early, before you initiate the session on your side, they will just see a screen saying that the host has not started yet. If they come in while you are in there with another student they will still get access but you can mute them until it is time to work with them.
One benefit for music teachers is that you can set up multiple webcams to use for your teaching session. I am a guitarist, so it can be very useful to have one camera set up for a shot of my right hand whereas the main camera is the typical view from the front.
To toggle between cameras all you need to do is select what camera you are using from the video icon.
As the host in Zoom, you can mute participants. This is incredibly useful if you are in a group of people and you don’t want to hear the various sounds coming from all the microphones. You can “mute all” or mute one at a time. Participants can also mute and unmute themselves.
Dealing with Dropouts
If the internet cuts out for you or the student the room is still there and it won’t disappear for everyone. This is inevitable at some point so it is nice to know that you or the student can simply fix the problem (usually plugging the computer into power) and re-join a few minutes later.