Hello! Here's a guide for how my online lessons work, what you need, what I can offer, and how to sign up.
I am available to teach guitar, bass guitar, 5-string banjo, soprano ukulele, baritone ukulele, mandolin, and renaissance lute. I also teach songwriting, composition, and arranging. My newest lessons are software-based. Right now I'm offering one-on-one courses on GarageBand (Mac, iOS only), Sibelius, GuitarPro 7.5 (earlier versions as well), and MuseScore. If your particular digital audio workstation or notation software isn't listed here, let's still talk about how I can help you learn recording, arranging, and engraving techniques. My rates are still the same: $30/half hour or $45/hour. I accept Paypal, Venmo, or Zelle. You can get in touch with my via the contact page on my website. I'm looking forward to hearing from you!
Here is a list of the basic, essential equipment you'll need.
Large tablets can sometime work. It needs to be big enough so you can see anything I'm showing you on a large scale. Phone screens are too small in my opinion. I'm more than happy to help guide you towards the right computer for your needs and budget.
Slower connections will cause a significant amount of glitches during the session. To check your speed, visit www.speedtest.net. If your download or upload speeds are below 2-3 Mbps, we might have problems. I always encourage everyone to do a test session with me at no charge. (I have just over 200Mbps down and just over 11Mbps up, in case you're curious). You may be able to get a free upgrade in speed if you give your internet service provider a call. I know that a lot of companies have been offering free upgrades during the COVID-19 pandemic. It never hurts to ask if they have any promotions going on.
I prefer gmail for all of my emailing needs. It's a very easy-to-use platform for email and web conferences. Chances are if you have a Google account of any type, you already have one. Head over to gmail.com and see what happens when you login. If you can't login, simply press "Create an account" and follow the prompts from there. If you get stuck along the way, please contact me through my website and I'll do my best to help you through it. Once you are logged in, send me a test email!
I've been using Google Hangouts and Zoom for lessons. I'm probably going to try to transition everything to Google Meet since it's already integrated within the gmail.com interface. I have used Skype and FaceTime in the past and I only find them to be frustrating for one-on-one lessons. While Google isn't without glitches, it has been the most reliable platform for me. If you are unfamiliar with these, we can do a test session before you commit to any lessons.
This is a new requirement for my lessons. I need to be able to hear you clearly so we can have an effective learning experience. Most built-in microphones are inadequate. I personally use the Blue Snowball USB Mic. For the audio quality it gives at about $50, it's unbeatable. I've recorded several videos with it over the years and have conducted every online lesson with it. We can definitely test your microphone before we set up any lessons to see whether or not you need to upgrade.
I've also had my eye on the Blue Yeti for a while. I like that it has a volume adjustment on it.
I'm not going to be as strict about purchasing a new webcam. But you need at least one. Built-in webcams are usually quite sufficient. But if you are interested in upgrading, I use the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920. And yes, that does have a built-in microphone but it's terrible.
A note about external USB hardware such as microphones and webcams. Sometimes these things stop working. If that's the case, you usually need to reset your USB drivers. I have a MacBook and need to reset my SMC every six months or so. Click here for an easy to follow guide for Macs. (I don't want to give the wrong information for Windows computers so if anyone has suggestions, please let me know.)
MIDI to USB cable
This is generally only useful for students learning notation or recording software. Most modern MIDI keyboards come with USB. For older MIDI keyboards, you will need a converter cable like this. It's compatible with both Apple and Windows.
If you want a fun mini MIDI keyboard, I really get a kick out of my AKAI Professional LPK25. It easily fits in my laptop bag and even works with my iPhone.
This is another optional item. Occasionally I'll be able to hear an echo of my own voice through my speakers. That means that your microphone is picking up the sound that's playing out of your speakers. The Blue Snowball mic usually solves that problem, but some of my students do need to wear headphones during the lesson. Any headphones or earbuds should suffice, as long as they sound good to you and you can easily control the volume for yourself. If you want a recommendation for the best set of headphones you can get for the money, I've used these Sony Headphones for over 20 years. Literally the same exact pair for that long. They're very comfortable, give crystal clear sound, and can be worn for longer periods of time than other headphones.
Click here to download a PDF of my full studio policies.
I hope to hear from you soon!