Monday, March 2, 2015

10 Tips for a Successful Online Flute Lesson

Preparation is key to getting the most out of your online lessons. Here are 10 things to keep in mind when you’re scheduled to have a live, online flute lesson.
  1. SOFTWARE: For ZOEN lessons, be sure you install Google Chrome as your web browser (download here).  The ZOEN videochat happens right in the browser and opens when you click on the link in your reminder email or from your dashboard.
  2. SPEED: Check your internet speed at  Ideally, your download speed should be a minimum of 5 mbps. Upload speed is even more crucial and usually where people run into problems: shoot for a minimum of 1 mbps upload.  Also, keep your connection free of other devices during your lesson, especially download or upload activity and if possible, use a wired connection instead of wireless.  
  3. COMPUTER: I find it sometimes helps to restart the computer a bit before the lesson – occasionally there’s some sort of glitch, and this can be very helpful for preventing problems.  Make sure no other webcam-related software is running.  
  4. POSITION: I like to do flute lessons standing up, so position the computer/webcam to the proper height for standing so your teacher can clearly see you as if they were standing in the room with you. 
  5. PREPARE MUSIC: Have your flute and sheet music set up and ready to go, with a music stand also set up near the computer at standing height.
  6. HYDRATION: Have a glass of water handy! Flute playing can be thirsty work – and flute tone can be impacted by dry mouth.
  7. BRUSH TEETH: Make sure there are no other food or drinks during the lesson. I recommend brushing teeth before your lesson to help ensure the longevity of your flute pads (in addition to cleaning the flute right after every lesson or practice).
  8. HEADPHONES: It’s great if you have headphones to eliminate echo and get better sound/bandwidth than computer speakers – some students seem to do fine without – but I find them helpful. If a parent or other additional person is listening in, you can use a headphone jack splitter.
  9. SHEET MUSIC: Let me know ahead of time about any music you’ll be using at the lesson. I own a great deal of flute music, and am regularly purchasing additional new music, and much that I do not own can be acquired through online download. In some cases, it’s permissible to scan your music in and email it to me as a PDF attachment. With online lessons, we will each need a copy of the music (unless it’s something we have memorized or that you’re learning by ear) – so communication on this is essential.
  10. INSTRUMENT: It’s also a good idea to check with a repair technician to make sure your flute is in good repair. With online lessons I can’t simply pick up your flute and try it myself to ensure that it’s working properly – so do be sure you know who’s recommended in your area and have annual check-ups as well as someone to check in with when something seems to not be quite right.
Going through this checklist for the first few lessons until the routine is established will help us both to make the most of your lesson time, and set you up for the best possible progress! I look forward to meeting you online!

Lisa Carlson is in demand as a teacher and performer both in her hometown of Montpelier VT and live online. Schedule your live online flute lessons with Lisa Carlson on the ZOEN