Firstly, how are you? I hope you are coping through the second lockdown. For some, the routine we have settled into has been thrown up in the air, once again. For others, not much has changed. Either way, make sure to take care of yourself over the next few weeks.
As fellow peripatetic teachers will know, the second UK national lockdown allows us to teach in schools as they remain open but unfortunately, does not allow private lessons in homes. For me, this means I have had to move a few of my lessons to online via Zoom.
There are many instrumental teachers who are moving lessons back online or having to teach online for the first time. So, I thought I would share my top tips on how to successfully set up Zoom.
By the way, I am definitely not an IT expert, this is just your average violin teacher trying to learn the system in order to survive lockdown! Below are the tips based on my online teaching experience.
1. Zoom app: Download the app on your phone, tablet or computer. You can run Zoom on your web browser but I find it works much better when using the app.
2. WiFi connection: This is an obvious one but strong WiFi connection is very important. If you have a weak WiFi connection, you'll experience a lot of frozen faces and being kicked out of the meeting several times. This can become frustrating for you and your student, especially if you're trying to keep the attention of a group of young children. Trust me, I've been there! Here are a few solutions if your WiFi isn't so great:
- Have your device as close to your router as possible.
- Use an Ethernet cable to connect your laptop to your router.
- Tether your device to your mobile data.
Oh and finally, make sure no one else in your house is downloading a big file or streaming video, this is another reason for your WiFi not behaving when teaching online.
3. Meeting link: If you're teaching a large number of online lessons, use your 'Personal Meeting Room' Meeting ID and Passcode for all lessons. This means the link for your all your students remains the same each week and you don't have to spend time creating individual meetings for each student. I wish I learnt that earlier! To make sure your next student doesn't crash the lesson you're teaching, go your settings to make sure the Waiting Room option has been selected. This means they can't join the meeting until you admit them.
4. Give yourself time between lessons to deal with potential technical issues: Leave at least five minutes between lessons to allow for any potential technical issues occurring. You might experience WiFi issues, your device randomly restarting, Zoom not showing your attendee list to admit them into the meeting, sound randomly not working, etc. Yes, I have experienced all of these things! Those precious five minutes will allow you to sort technical issues out and without falling behind schedule. Also, I find online lessons take up a lot of energy so having a five minute breather between each lesson is not a bad thing.
5. For the best sound: As Zoom is made or people talking to each other in meetings, the audio is optimised for speech rather than instrumental playing. Sometimes when your student is playing, the sound cuts out as Zoom thinks it's background noise rather than the main sound you want to hear. Instead of giving you an essay of instructions to read on how to best set up Zoom, (and truthfully, I'm also still learning), you can find videos of music educator, Gabriel Lee on the ABRSM website showing you the best set up.
I hope these tips have been useful and support you in your online teaching adventure! If you have further tips, please share them in the comments below. Happy Zoom-ing!
If you have any questions, please do get in touch.