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Remote Music Teaching tools for those in Lockdown due to COVID-19

Mark Scrivener

Inspired
As more areas go to mandatory total lockdowns (I'm in CA), not only are gigs gone, but those of us who teach for a living are scrambling. I'd like to start a thread for teachers (and students) to discuss tools that have worked for them. Sadly the video conferencing tools that exist (Zoom, Skype, Facetime, etc) are optimized for video and voice audio, not music. Let's share what solutions and tips we have found.
 

Mark Scrivener

Inspired
I'll go first....

Zoom (https://zoom.us/ - which has a free version that is really all most of us need) has advanced audio settings that allow you to turn off all their audio processing (background noise removal, voice optimization) - which does improve sending music.

Also I'm using my FX III as the audio interface with Zoom (it only sees Ch1 in and out). I'm using my console preamps for a voice mic and mixing the two in a FX III preset to send to Zoom. HUGE improvement in audio for my students.

Finally - if you have a DSLR, SparkoCam (https://sparkosoft.com/sparkocam - not free unfortunately) will let you use your DSLR as a webcam with any web conferencing, streaming, or recording software you use. HUGE improvement over even a high end webcam. Sadly does nothing for your audio though.
 

nccarg

Inspired
This semester I'm teaching macroeconomics, microeconomics, and customer service at the local college. I had 3 online and 2 hybrid courses. They're all on line now. We use Canvas and the textbooks for my courses come from Cengage. I don't do any lecturing over the internet. Cengage has a site called MindTap that includes an online textbook with instructional videos embedded in the chapters. For economics I have some pdfs that I can post to help with some of the tougher topics. They reside on my on personal googlepages website which students can access for free.

The biggest adjustment for me is the testing. I've always been srtict and required a testing center. That can't be done now so I'm allowing everyone to take their next test at home, but with a shorter time limit.
 

Horganovski

Inspired
I did my first online lesson just this afternoon and it went surprisingly smoothly. I used Zoom which I've been using all week to train animators to use a 3d animation program (my day job).

My setup was as above, using the Axe FX (II XL in my case) as the computers soundcard via USB. I have a mixer that sits on top of my rack with a mic and other instruments plugged into it, I used that for my voice. The outputs of the mixer go into the effects loop on the Axe FX.

Pretty nice as I have a slider on the desk for my mic volume while the guitar and other sounds from the computer are direct.
In Zoom make sure to switch off the 'adjust volume automatically' option and the ones that try to combat background noise as mentioned above as they just end up compressing the sound.

My student was on the other end with just his laptop and a combo amp in his room and I was able to hear him fine. I ran Transcribe and we worked on a song he wants to learn. I'm still writing the tabs on paper which I'll scan and email to him later. Guitar pro might be better in the long run but I'm not up to speed with it yet.

The one limitation of a free Zoom account I believe is that it limits meetings to 40 minutes length, I bought a months 'pro' subscription for the animation job just last week which cost me 17 bucks. Pretty good.

Tomorrow I was due to -take- a lesson on Cello with my teacher who is quite elderly so there's no way I want to visit her right now. I'm going to try to set up Zoom again and invite her to it. I have an electric cello which sounds pretty cool through the Axe FX.

So to sum up - yeah I think it's definitely doable. I spent a lot of time playing around with my regular soundcard (Focusrite Scarlett) but found just using the Axe FX as my sound card was simpler. I'm using Headphones for the lesson so I don't get feedback from the mic I have for my voice.
 

Mark Scrivener

Inspired
Here is a trick to avoid feedback without using headphones with the FX III as your interface (should work with the FX II XL as well). Zoom is only going to see Ch 1 on your Axe, so in your preset combine both your mic signal and guitar signal to go out Ch 1. Split your guitar signal to go out BOTH ch 1 and ch 2. Hook your speakers up to CH 2. Now you can hear your guitar and there will be no feedback on the mic, but Zoom is sending the receive audio back on Ch 1, so you can't hear the other side. To fix this go into the setup menu and map the return USB audio ch 1 to use output 2 on the Fractal. The upshot of all this is your mic and guitar will go to the Zoom audio, but only your guitar and the receive Zoom audio will come out your speakers (not the mic).

And as Horganovski pointed out - turn off automatic volume adjustment on the mic in Zoom (along with the other audio processing I indicated above).

Please feel free to contact me directly if you need help setting any of this up and I'll be happy to jump on a phone or video call with you. I'm also teaching guitar to students of all levels REGARDLESS of their ability to pay. Some of my students have lost 100% of their income due to the shutdown and they shouldn't have to choose between paying me or buying food. If you or someone you know has lost their income due to this mess, hit me up for some free guitar lessons. https://www.electricgiraffestudio.com/guitar-lessons.html
 

nccarg

Inspired
Ha, I guess I didn't read the first post closely enough. Sorry to bring economics into this thread. The last time I taught guitar the internet didn't exist, at least not publicly.
 

Mark Scrivener

Inspired
Ha, I guess I didn't read the first post closely enough. Sorry to bring economics into this thread. The last time I taught guitar the internet didn't exist, at least not publicly.
LoL, no worries (just updated thread title). And certainly there are aspects of remote learning in other subjects that could apply to music instruction. Challenging times for all of us. FYI teaching guitar is 90+% of my income (studio production is the rest). If it wasn't for web lessons my income would be zero, and being self employed I wouldn't be eligible for unemployment. Lots of working musicians are gonna get supper hard by this thing.
 

RoshRoslin

Experienced
I personally use my AxeFXIII as a USB interface and dump the audio into zoom/skype/facetime. Guitar into input 1, Vocals into input 2. As detailed above.

I put together a video for some friends of mine who play other instruments for some cheap solutions as well.
 

Mark Scrivener

Inspired
Today I started using the Audio Movers plug in to send high res audio to my students. Works amazing, tremendous improvement over Skype/Zoom audio!

Huge thank you to solo-act who posted this in another thread:
I found this, but doesn’t look like it can be tailored to integrate into FB or YT or google hangouts streaming. Still looking into it.
I also want to thank Igor, the developer of Audio Movers Listen to. I emailed support on a Sunday afternoon with a question and he got right back to me. Supper helpful guy, and it turns out we live a few blocks from each other. Gonna have to get together for a beer when this thing is finally over.....
 

Mark Scrivener

Inspired
A few more tools that are useful for teaching guitar, even when not on lockdown......

1. Musescore (https://musescore.com/) - this is FREE notation software. Think Finale or Sibelius, but free! Can produce tab as well, export midi files, etc. On top of that, Musescore has an on line data base where users submit scores and you can find all sorts of sheet music for free and download it in an editable format. Having a fully notated score is always helpful, but especially valuable when teaching remotely.

2. Neck Diagrams (https://www.neckdiagrams.com/) - great software for creating chord diagrams, scales, arpeggios, etc. I've used this for years now to produce all sorts of handouts for my students.

Hope this helps!
 

Admin M@

Administrator
Fractal Audio Systems
Moderator
Run your mic into Input 2 of the Axe-Fx III to add a little compression and room reverb to your voice before mixing it in with processed guitar at Out1. Set the Axe-Fx (Out 1) as your audio interface for Skype, Zoom, Citrix, FaceTime, Discord, whatever. I've been doing this and it works great.

If you're not wearing headphones, you can also use a sidechain compressor to duck the mic while your playing guitar. This eliminates the sound of the strings so your participants hear only the tone of your preset. I tested this for Mark Day the other day and it worked great.

PS: My preference is Citrix. GoToMeeting. FaceTime also works great on a Mac.
 

vurltuba

New Member
As more areas go to mandatory total lockdowns (I'm in CA), not only are gigs gone, but those of us who teach for a living are scrambling. I'd like to start a thread for teachers (and students) to discuss tools that have worked for them. Sadly the video conferencing tools that exist (Zoom, Skype, Facetime, etc) are optimized for video and voice audio, not music. Let's share what solutions and tips we have found.
I am teaching tuba/euph online via Zoom. Using a Zoom H4n as a mic and headphones rather than speakers. With the H4n I am using the built in XY mics for speech and two external mics for my tuba. This seems to give me the best results as speech and tuba playing in general have quite different db output.
Zoom software settings make a big difference the sound quality. Sadly, I haven't been able to find a way to do duplex play (student and me playing simultaneously).
 
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