Many people have found themselves working remotely throughout the last 7 months, including music therapists and teachers. With very little notice, we had to alter our plans to be conducive to the virtual experience.
As someone who is in their early 20s, you would think that I would have an upper hand with knowledge about technology. I, unfortunately in this case, do not fit that stereotype and had to really teach myself how to make this all work for my clients and students. So, how did I do it?
I’ve found myself primarily using two applications: Zoom and iMovie. I know, it’s pretty basic, but who knew such common programs would open doors for so many virtual learning opportunities? In today’s blog post, we are going to dive a little deeper into Zoom.
What an amazing tool Zoom has proven to be. Many of the Listen & Learn readers may have experience with, or have at least heard of Zoom. This application has been in high demand for those in education, healthcare, and even for families and friends to connect. You can access Zoom from any device through the web or by downloading the Zoom application. This video chat platform is superb!
Within the video chat, there are multiple functions to take your virtual interaction one step further. My most used would be the screen share function. Click this button and you can share directly to your participant’s screen a whiteboard, presentations, visuals, a website, documents, and really anything that you have pulled up on your device.
As a music therapist and music lesson instructor, I use A LOT of visuals. I knew simply holding them up to the camera would not work for many of the people I work with, so this function has been a life saver!
Not only can you display these things, but you can draw on, type, and edit along with your participants!
Another fun capability of Zoom is inserting a background. Throughout these 7 months I’ve seen students “in” San Francisco, outer space, on the beach, and amongst the Northern Lights. You can also customize it with your own photos! I used a birthday background when one of my clients had music on his birthday!
In order to access this function, click the arrow on the top left corner of your “start/stop video” button. From there, click “choose virtual background” and select your image.
If you’re like me and need your day scheduled and planned in advance, this function is for you. Prior to discovering this, I was sending my students and clients the link to their sessions minutes before their session was to begin. This gave me added stress as I had sessions back to back and was worried I wouldn’t get the link sent in time! Zoom has this great feature where you can schedule meetings well in advance and send the link early. I typically put all of my meetings on the schedule and then send out links via email in the morning.
There are multiple ways to get to this function, but this is how I do it. At the top of your Zoom app, click “Meetings”. This will take you to a screen where you can see your schedule. Above the schedule you will see a couple of buttons including “Upcoming”, “Recorded” and a plus sign. To add a meeting, click the plus sign and enter in your meeting information. Once the meeting is ready, click “Schedule”.
Now this meeting should appear on your schedule! To share the link, click on that meeting and then “copy invitation”. From there you can paste the invitation in whatever message you send to your participant!
*There is a “Recurring Meeting” option, but I do not have experience with it as I like to make sure my students and clients are receiving a new link each week. :)
Things to Consider
While Zoom is an amazing application, it’s not perfect. My primary trouble is the lag time that comes with any video platform. When making music, lag can prove to be a bit challenging. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about this problem itself; however, I’ve found that if I keep the music making on my end steady and simple, my students don’t seem to have a problem following along.
One other issue with music-making is the sound quality of the music. Zoom and the device speakers tend to distort the sound of instruments a bit. It’s not unbearable, but it is noticeable, especially with guitar. To try and diminish this on my end, I always have my “original sound” on.
In order to do this for the first time during your meeting, click the arrow on the top right of your “mute” button. Then, click “audio settings”. In the bottom right hand corner you should see an “advanced” button. Click that and then check the box to show the “Enable Original Sound” button in your meeting. After this is set, you should see a “Turn on/off original sound” button in the top left hand corner of all your future meetings. Make sure to turn it on when making music!
My last thing consideration is the time limit with groups. It is important to note that with the free version of Zoom, you have a time limit of 45 minutes in meetings with over 2 participants. This has not been an issue for me as I currently only see individuals via Zoom. If you see groups for over 45 minutes and would prefer to use the Zoom platform, you would need to purchase the paid version.
Getting to figure out and work with Zoom has certainly been a learning process, but has brought so many new virtual learning opportunities for many people! Lots of us are using this application on a regular basis nowadays, so it’s important to know some of the ins and outs of the program.
If you have any further advice for those who are using Zoom, we would love to learn from you in the comments section. Check back soon to see how I have used iMovie to make music therapy videos for school-aged students!