Setting up Zoom

If possible, use the Zoom app on a laptop. You can download Zoom Desktop Client here:

The audio settings are more flexible and enable better quality audio of music than using the web browser version, or the tablet or phone apps. It is also helpful to have a larger screen which can be positioned at different angles.

Go to Preferences and select Audio. Untick Automatically adjust microphone volume. It works great for voice-only calls, but not music. Click Test Speaker to check your speaker works and is clear. Then click Test Mic and talk or play. The app will record for about five seconds and the Input Level meter will flicker, and then the audio will play back. You want the audio to be clear, and the meter to bounce about halfway most of the time. Drag the slider to the right if it is too quiet / low, drag it to the left if it is too loud / high.

Still in the Audio tab, scroll down to Audio Profile and tick Original sound for musicians. Leave High-fidelity music mode and Stereo audio unticked, but make sure that Echo cancellation is ticked.

Setting up for your lesson

Consider your lighting. Where possible, have your light source behind the device, pointing at you. If it is behind you, it puts you in silhouette, and makes you hard to see.

Check the framing. When you sit or stand in the place you plan to be for the lesson, ensure that your teacher can see you and your instrument as you speak and play.

Use a neutral background. This helps your tutor to see and focus on you.

Wear something that makes you / your instrument easy to see. For example, ideally not a black outfit in front of a black wall whilst holding a black clarinet!

Have some headphones or earbuds to hand if possible; because of the way different devices work with the software, they can help you and your tutor hear each other better.

In your lesson

Please be aware there will be a time delay between you and your tutor.

Unfortunately, this means you can’t play together as you might in a normal lesson. Speak clearly and more slowly than usual. Avoid talking across each other, otherwise you’ll find yourself repeating everything to be understood.

Your tutor may wish to send resources or backing tracks / sheet music. There is the facility for them to place a link in the chat box, or email some sheet music, and you can begin making use of these materials while you’re still online with them. In some instances they may share their screen with you and show you something from their computer, such as music, a video, or an internet link.