Optional Equipment for Teaching Online | Lessonface

Optional Equipment for Teaching Online

First off, we recommend doing a few online lessons with your basic set up before investing in additional equipment. We have seen no evidence that teachers with more sophisticated equipment get more students or keep students longer than those with the basics. Built in mics and cameras are quite good these days, and there is probably benefit to keeping it simple versus spending time in a lesson trying to tweak equipment. That said, if you have done some lessons and feel like you need to be offering students a better experience, or you would like to be having a better experience yourself, we do have some recommendations. The Phoenix Duet is a pretty sweet upgrade. Another strong recommendation is a decent set of headphones.
Our Number One Recommendation If You Want to Take It to the Next Level
The Phoenix Duet will allow you and your student to play in time with each other, and has a mighty decent microphone and speaker. The devices aren't cheap - starting at $115, at the time of this writing. If you and the student are not very far geographically - same continent, let's say, though conditions can vary - and both have good connections, you would then actually be able to play together. Which is nice! The tricky bit: the best result comes when the student has one too.

 You can plug headphones into the Duet, but you probably won't need them.

 There are some other similar devices on the market; in our experience, for the price, this is the best.
Headphones
Being a musician, and a person in the modern world, you probably have at least three sets of headphones tucked into various jackets and bags around your house already. If you are on an instrument where wearing headphones doesn't feel like an encumberance, we recommend putting a pair on. In most situations, a decent set of headphones will make a positive difference.

While audio quality is good through streaming video in most situations, unless you have a sound studio or live in the country, there is likely to be a lot of ambient noise that you will be contending with in the lesson. Headphones do a great deal to help you focus on the interaction, which is always a good thing. Also, if you found that your built-in webcam wasn't good, or your computer didn't have one, and you end up needing an external webcam, that can cause additional issue with echoes, and headphones will cut those right out.

Make sure you get ones with a long enough cord to move around a little bit so you don't find yourself constrained in the session.

We use these Sennheiser headphones, which do a great job, were not very expensive (less than $30), and which have a lovely long cord.

External Webcam

If you have an older computer, you may want to upgrade your built-in webcam. New models come out frequently so we're not going to call out specifics here; you should go to a site with a lot of sales and look at reviews to find the best cost/quality fit for yourself. It seems like you can get a nice webcam for $50. At around $100 the webcams are really nice. We like Logitech. It seems like Microsoft has some good options too.

Microphone​
External microphones are rarely necessary in our experience. If you have one around, give a go, and let us know your recommendations in the comments.

Setting It Up
You can make any audio or video input and output adjustments by clicking the gear icon within the Vidyo app. Choose the device you want to use from the list that appears there. If it appears to already be chosen you could try clicking something else and clicking it again. If it still doesn't seem to work, try a complete reboot. (Rebooting is a pain but fixes any problems 99% of the time.) The system should default to the chosen device for subsequent sessions. If you want to test it out you can set up a session with us or create a trial account as a student and sign up for a trial lesson.

If you have other suggestions, ideas, or great set-ups you have discovered, please add them in the comments!
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Comments

Cameron Weckerley

Hello,

I have a fair amount of experience teaching online including a lot of additional equipment to improve the student experience.

Cameron Weckerley

I look forward to getting you know your and your staff.   I already have a fair amount of experience teaching online and this looks like a perfect fit.

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