***this article was originally written on March 25 2020***
There are many platforms available for online lessons. Some of my colleagues use Google Duo, or FaceTime, but so far I’m only using two: Skype and Zoom.
Zoom is a free platform where multiple people can gather and have meetings or seminars.
We had a teacher’s meeting, via Zoom, with the music school I work for. It was very convenient since there was no commuting required, which is a big advantage.
For this meeting, the host sent us the invitation along with the meeting ID, and I could easily participate in it.
When I used Zoom for online lesson for the first time with my student, I arranged the date of the meeting (= lesson) in advance using “schedule a meeting” and got the meeting ID and the link. I expected we can connect very easily with it, but it did not happen unfortunately. In addition, we had to spend 30 minutes in order to hook up with each other, calling each other with phones in front of our computers.
Since the link I sent them did not work, my student’s parent arranged another meeting and sent me the meeting ID and passwords, but when I tried to go on with it, Zoom indicated that they are in another meeting. This was happening at both ends. I was at the music school at that time and its poor Wi-Fi did not help either.
Even with this situation, they were very patient and warm. We were encouraging each other trying to connect saying “We are having fun! Thank you for your patience !!”
Since we had such a hard time, I did not used Zoom for a while.
Update: Today (March 29, 2020) I tried Zoom again with my teacher (a university professor) . The university is now using Zoom as well, so he wanted to test with me. He wanted to “schedule a meeting,” but I explained what happened with my students and we tried to take the simplest path as possible. Basically, I just typed his Zoom ID and I was able to connect with him right away.
My teacher’s instrument is a very fine one, so he needed to be away about one bow and a half distance from the computer microphone in order for me to hear his sound without cracking. When I play, one bow distance was good enough. Basically there was no problem communicating with him with the violins using the PC build in microphones at both ends. No delay of video or audio. I tried my earphones with a microphone, which you can see in this article: https://dearstudentsdotblog.wordpress.com/2020/06/06/online-violin-lessons-problems-i-encountered-and-the-solutions/ but he told me it does not make a difference.
Update on June 6 2020: One of my students prefers to use Zoom and I’m now more used to it. I was hoping to arrange a meeting without meeting ID or password, but Zoom’s security is higher since April, I have to arrange a meeting, and email meeting ID and password before the lesson every week. I wish I did not have to go through this step every time, but I’m more used to it.
Skype is a platform I’ve been familiar with for years. It is a free online videophone, if both sides have Skype accounts.
Finding out each other’s Skype name or Skype ID, one sends an invitation, and by accepting it, we can connect to each other very easily. Also, this procedure is one time deal. You do not need to arrange anything before your online lesson every time.
On this platform, you can chat with each other by sending texts, and the students who took the lesson today even sent me the sheet music during the lesson via Skype. (I want to learn this too!)
A majority of my students want to use Skype, and I’m also used to it for my previous online lessons as well as private calls, so I think I will continue using this platform.