7 Tips For Better Online Lessons


So, you are ready to take guitar, bass or ukulele lessons but you’re not ready to take them in-person because of concerns with COVID-19. I totally understand and that’s why I offer lessons online via Skype or Zoom.

Although online learning is simple and effective, there are a few things you should know to help make the whole process smoother.

  1. Device. You need a laptop, tablet or phone with Skype or Zoom installed. Be sure to keep the app updated.
  2. Fast internet. You need a download/upload speed of at least 5 mbps each. More is better, of course (use Speedtest.net to find out what your speed is). Wired connections are faster and more reliable than wi-fi connections, so use a wired connection if possible. If using wi-fi, try to position yourself close enough to the wi-fi router to get a strong signal. Lastly, ask other members of your household to stop streaming movies during the lesson if your bandwidth is limited. 
  3. Lighting. Make sure your space is well lit. It is helpful to have a lamp on your desk at eye level and facing you so that you are well lit from the front. Avoid having any strong light sources behind you as that will cause you to fall into a silhouette and make it hard for me to see what your hands are doing.  
  4. Frame. Position the camera so that you are fully in frame and then some. A good rule of thumb is to frame yourself in the video so that you can see 12 inches to the left and right of your head, body and guitar. This will allow you to move around a bit and still be visible.
  5. Quiet. If possible, choose a space in your home that is quiet and away from household foot traffic and noises. Skype and Zoom are designed to make even the quietest noises very loud, so any off camera activity will be heard and distract us from the lesson.
  6. Headphones. Skype and Zoom also do what’s called “ducking.” That is, it mutes the other person when it thinks you are talking, and vice versa. Sometimes, however,  when I’m speaking  and my voice is coming out of your device’s speakers, it will trick Skype or Zoom into thinking that you’re the one who is talking and mute me. That pesky phenomenon is completely solved by using headphones or earbuds.
  7. Documents. I’ll be sending your sheet music and other lesson materials in PDF form often. If possible, get a printer to print the PDF or a second device to view the PDF.

I know that it may seem like a lot, but really these are easy steps to take to make the learning process smooth and fun. I’ve been giving most of my lessons online since March and the students who follow these tips get the most enjoyment out of the experience. I hope to see you in an online lesson soon!

For more information about me and the guitar lessons that I give in and around Baltimore, visit www.ewguitar.com.

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