Differences in Communicating with Online Music Students
Playing in time, making eye contact, hearing each other, correcting posture, and verbalizing instead of moving a student's form physically are all a bit different with the online format. Being natural and comfortable on screen will go a very long way toward your student feeling comfortable in the format, so one thing we absolutely recommend is to get a little practice with the format before you start meeting with students. This is one of the reasons that we ask to have short video conferences with our teachers when we get applications for teaching on the site.
Playing in time
To play in time, or close to it, both you and your student need to be on good connections, be geographically not too distant from each other, and to turn off the echo cancellation in the Vidyo video conferencing app.
Video conferencing software, including Vidyo, which is built into the Lessonface platform, automatically performs echo cancellation - otherwise you would hear your own sound coming from the other computer's speakers as a maddening echo. Echo cancellation has the side effect of prohibiting the users from making sound and hearing it from the other user simultaneously. To get duplex sound (meaning it goes in both directions) you can turn off echo cancellation - though you will need to use headphones or an external device like a Phoenix Duet if you do so, to prevent echo.
Uncheck the echo cancellation (and if you like, the other automated audio modulation checkbox, which controls how loud you sound) under Vidyo's settings. Go to the gear icon within the Vidyo app, and then go to the audio settings. If you are using a Mac, you will need to have external speaker and microphone connected to have the option, otherwise it is greyed out.
For either PC or Mac users, if you really want to step it up we recommend the Phoenix Duet, though it is not terribly cheap (on sale for $115 at the last update of this article), and for the very best experience both student and teacher need to use one.
Depending on all kinds of systemic reasons the experience can vary. Given good connections, good conditions, not too much distance, and with your echo cancellation turned off, you can give a good go at playing together.
For a lot of set-ups, making eye contact means looking into the camera. With others, it's conveniently looking at the part of the screen where the other person's eyes are. iPads are set up this way, which is part of why doing a lesson on an iPad is a really pleasant experience - it feels natural much more quickly.
The easiest way to set up the Lessonface platform for eye contact and more natural communication is by minimizing your own video stream (this makes it about one inch square) and letting your student's stream become centered. If you do need to check your video, it's easy to click on it again to enlarge it (and re-shrink it as needed). Having your own image on the screen can be distracting/mesmerizing, and also makes the student's video off-center, meaning that you will always appear to be looking off to the side (when you are in fact looking at the student).
Although - we have also heard from teachers that making eye contact all the time with a student can be a bit overly intense, and can even make some students feel intimidated when they're trying something for the first time or really pushing themselves. But either way, knowing if you're making eye contact and if you're not is the first step to deciding whether or not to engage in eye contact. And that is - perhaps surprisingly - not always so obvious in the online format.
- or doing any of the things that you would typically do through touch, in person - you're going to have to do by demonstrating on yourself, or by describing how to do it. Make sure you are able to tell someone how to do something in addition to showing it to him or her. You already know this or you wouldn't be a teacher, but be patient, and don't be afraid to tell someone the same thing again and again if he or she hasn't gotten it yet. If you've said it more than three times and it's not working, perhaps try to figure out a different way to say it.