Online lessons can be fun, engaging, and most importantly highly effective. But what about sound, lighting, connectivity, and all other issues that probably prompted you to search for a way to improve your situation in the first place? Fear not, in this article we will explore what equipment you need to improve your music lessons experience.
The very first thing on our list is the room in which the lessons will take place. In case you missed it, I kindly invite you to read my article about preparing your space for online music lessons. This will help you choose and prepare the room so that you or your child will be able to get the most out of your online experience.
There are several options out there, but the most popular are (in no particular order) Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime. I personally use all three, and all of them have their strengths and weaknesses. Discuss with your teacher what option would be most appropriate. Ultimately, all of them fulfill the same purpose in a similar way. For the time being, they are free to use, too.
One thing to remember is that most of these platforms are not specifically designed for music lessons. They are optimized for speech. By default, they might filter out some frequencies, as well as automatically adjust sound levels. This is the first thing that we want to block. Fortunately, most applications allow you to switch this option off.
Windows operating systems have a built-in system function that is designed to adjust sound levels and filter out unwanted noises. We need to disable this as well. I invite you to consult the following article to remedy the issue: https://support.ekohealth.com/hc/en-us/articles/115004348487-Prevent-Windows-from-Automatically-Reducing-Eko-Telemedicine-Live-Stream-volume.
Up until now, everything that I spoke about is essentially free (instrument, furniture, and sheet music aside). While it does allow you to start taking them, there are a few relatively inexpensive pieces of equipment that will improve your online music lessons considerably.
An external camera ca improve the image quality considerably. Additionally, the ability to move it independently from the computer can help finding the perfect angle. Technology has come a long way, and a decent camera costs between $30 and $50.
While a camera is more of a luxury than a necessity, you should make buying a microphone a priority. Ultimately, we deal with sound, and even inexpensive consumer devices will outperform just about any built-in microphone commonly found in tablets, phones, and laptops. Studio microphones can cost thousands and are complicated to set up. However, you can simply plug in an inexpensive USB microphone, adjust the level, and you are good to go.
Just about any USB camera in the sub-$50 range will do just fine. As for the microphone, I have had a good experience using Fifine’s K669B Condenser Microphone (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XCKGLTP/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_KIoiFbBDND77Y). I would like to point out that I have no affiliation with the company or manufacturers (nor the marketplace that sells them).