Get Ready for Piano Lessons

Congratulations! You’re starting piano lessons with Dr. Lory. Your first lesson is coming up. Let’s get you ready by helping with the technical aspects of setting up the space in your home where you will practice and take lessons.

Equipment

So that you and Dr. Lory can see and hear each other, you’re going to need some equipment, most of which you probably already have. Here’s a checklist:

  • Piano or Digital Keyboard
  • Faster Internet Service
  • Zoom App
  • Laptop or Tablet
  • Adjustable Stand
  • Lighting

Piano or Digital Keyboard

If you signed up for piano lessons, you probably already have a piano or digital keyboard. If not, don’t worry — Dr. Lory can help you decide what will work for you, based on your budget and your goals.

You can take online piano lessons on either an acoustic piano or digital keyboard. If you already have an acoustic piano, your piano will need to be in-tune and should also be regularly maintained. If you have an digital keyboard that you plan to use for piano lessons, it should have 88-weighted and touch-sensitive keys so that you can vary the volume of sound by touch. Your digital keyboard will also need at least one pedal — the damper or sustain pedal. A second pedal, the una corda or soft pedal, would be helpful. Acoustic pianos may also have a third pedal, as the diagram below shows.

No matter which kind of piano you use, it’s important that the instrument produces high-quality sound to keep you motivated.

Most grand pianos have three pedals as show above. Upright acoustic pianos may not have the sostenuto pedal. Digital keyboards must have the sustain pedal.

Faster Internet Service

You will be streaming high-quality audio and video in real-time during your lesson. So it’s important that you have a fast Internet connection for smooth and jitter-free video. Your lessons will be on Zoom, a very popular video streaming service. Zoom’s recommendations for one-to-one video calling, include both up and down internet speeds are shown below. We will assume that video quality will be 1080p, which requires the higher level of speeed:

  • For 720p HD video – 1.2Mbps (upload/download)
  • For 1080p HD video – 3.8Mbps/3.0Mbps (upload/download)

These are the minimum speed requirements for piano lessons on Zoom. But faster is always better in getting smooth, real-time video performance, so let’s check your Internet speed right now by using Speedtest. Click here and the press the big Go Button. Wait a few seconds and you’ll get both upload and download speeds at your location. You should also check your Internet speed from time to time in order to make sure your service provider is delivering promised data speeds to your location.

Installing and Setting Up Zoom

You will also need to install the Zoom app on your laptop computer or tablet. The app is free and you can download the version for your operating system right here. Do this instead of searching for the app on your device’s app store, which may have an older or non-official versions.

After downloading the app, click and install it on your device. If you need help installing Zoom, the company provides excellent support to help set up your particular device. Read this Zoom article for help installing and setting up your system to use Zoom.

Laptop or Tablet

To get the most from each lesson, you will need a computer or tablet with a larger screen. Dr. Lory uses four cameras to show you the keyboard and pedals from different angles so a bigger screen will let you see more. In addition, there is a piano keyboard right on the screen that lights up the keys as she plays them. During lessons, there will be printed music, as well as slides, videos, and audio, so the better the screen, the more you will get out of your lessons.

Set your camera or device so that both you and your keyboard are visible.

Adjustable Stand

The video and audio sent from Dr. Lory will be excellent, but she also needs to see and hear you in the best possible way from your location. An adjustable floor stand is a good solution if you are using a laptop or tablet. Your camera should be set up to the right of your keyboard, slightly higher than the keys. Tilt the device so that both you and the piano keys are in the video frame.

Lighting

If you use Zoom or another video streaming service, you may already have a camera light to enhance your appearance. We suggest that you mount a video camera light on your device stand. The light will help Dr. Lory see you and your piano. If you don’t have a light, consider the overall brightness of your piano space. You may have to turn on lamps and open window coverings to bring in more outside light during lessons.

Conclusion

That’s it for setting up your piano space. In a future article, we will discuss some enhancements you can make to improve your sound quality, like setting up separate external microphones for your voice and piano.

Good luck with piano lessons!