It's face it: times are tough. In March, millions (actually, billions) had to reinvent the wheel overnight to keep stability and a semblance of normal life.
The same was true for us here at BCM. We had to get tech savvy, and quick. Cameras, tripods, drawing tablets, digital books! And let's not get started on microphones. But we came out on top and are now ready to share our top picks for what your students need(ed yesterday) to have an optimal online lesson.
Obviously, the first choice is using a device you already own. Our motto: the BIGGER the better! Laptops and tablets with a 10" screen or larger are ideal. Teachers often share sheet music, videos, or their hands during lessons. Larger screens will give a student the full benefit. Smartphones are usable, but students will struggle to see what the instructor is trying to show.
HOT TIP: CHARGE YOUR DEVICE BEFORE YOUR LESSON.
Device Stands: A good device stand can make all the difference for an instructor and student. We've spent plenty of time falling into grand pianos or staring at ceilings during lesson. What we need to see is the students posture, hands, and instrument. Below are our picks!
For Tablets: A great device with a good camera, tablets can be rigged for instructors to get the big picture while students can comfortably see their instructor and music.
Economy Model: Adjustable Tripod Stand by Raking $36. 99
High End Model: 360 Degree Rotating Floor Stand by idée $94.95
For Laptops: Any laptop stand can easily do the trick, and in a pinch, an end table can work just as well. We happen to like this adjustable laptop stand on wheels.
Our Pick: 24” Single Column Standing Desk / Laptop Stand $64.00
For Smartphones: While a stand isn't going to solve the small screen issue, it will help the instructor see everything they need for optimal instruction.
Our Pick: 51" Extendable Tripod Stand with Bluetooth Remote by UBeesize $25.99
A student should be able to experience their lessons uninterrupted by other sounds in the house, but we can't always make that happen. Additionally, devices (no matter how cheap or expensive) do not have the best speakers. Our solution? Wireless headphones! They bring quality sound to the student while drowning out the tantalizing sounds of their siblings video games in the other room.
Our Pick: JBL JR300BT $39.95
HOT TIP: Avoid headphones with a microphone. Headphone mics are programmed to produce a clear voice and minimize background noise and may attempt to muffle the students instrument.
To microphone or not to microphone? Our advice: it's not worth the hassle and expense. To get a great sound you would need a great microphone coupled with a great production console. However, this is something you can do right now- FOR FREE- to make your students sounds improve.
Zoom is a video conferencing platform designed for meetings, not music lessons. They designed a feature to minimize background sound and make the voice clearer. This means often students instruments struggle to sound clear throughout the meeting. Read this article from zoom on how to change your audio settings . **This article is slightly outdated. Your setting may say "automatically adjust volume" instead of "Background noise suppression".
And there you have it! Top tips and gear to maximize a great lesson for your student!