Tech Tips for Remote Learning

Tech Tips for Remote Learning

This information page was posted November 30, 2020 and will be updated as technology changes or new information becomes available.  Please check back periodically.

Tech Tips for Remote Learning Fact Sheet

The Denison Suzuki Program faculty urges parents to create the best possible musical learning experience for their child in a remote learning environment.

Please consider the information below and acquire and implement as many of these items as possible.

These recommendations contribute hugely to

  • your child’s understanding of instruction, tone, technique, and musicality from your teacher
  • his or her ability to see and hear nuance of tone technique, and musicality
  • your teacher’s ability to instruct appropriately and efficiently

Software Platform

  • Zoom (generally preferred), Skype, and FaceTime are all acceptable.
  • FaceTime may be better for very young children, due to less latency/lag and a more natural talking interface.
  • Zoom settings
    • In settings: Check software update availability and update to latest version.
    • In audio settings:
      • UNCLICK “automatically adjust microphone volume”
      • Set “Suppress background noise” to “low”
      • Set microphone and speaker slider bars at about ¾ of maximum. (Consult with teacher based on instrument and hardware.)
    • In audio settings ADVANCED:
      • CLICK ON “Show in meeting option to Enable Original Sound
      • UNCLICK “Disable echo cancellation”
      • CLICK ON “High fidelity music mode”
      • Optional (consult with teacher, based on instrument and hardware): CLICK ON “Stereo”
    • At time of every lesson, on main Zoom screen, CLICK ON “Show original sound”


Hardware – Basic Device and Connectivity

  • One of the following: laptop computer, desktop computer, phone, tablet (laptop or desktop preferred).
  • Internet speed can be tested ( is recommended).
  • Use of ethernet cable (hard wired) with a laptop/desktop computer is far superior to all other setups/devices.
  • Wi-fi:
    • Can be satisfactory if internet speed is adequate.
    • Can be improved with use of portable, stand-alone boosters.
    • Can be improved if device/student/lesson is moved as close to router as possible
  • At lesson time, turn off all other apps on device (e.g. mail, browser, all others), and minimize other family use of internet.


Hardware – Essential Additional External Add-ons

  • External microphone (Consult with teacher as to type based on instrument.)
    • Blue Snowball: about $75 – $110 on Amazon.  Has settings for omni-directional (all direction pickup), and cardioid (front direction pickup).  Consult with teacher on settings.
    • Blue Snowball Ice: about $50 on Amazon.  Only setting is for cardioid (front direction pickup).
    • Apple devices, such as Mac Pro and Mac Air laptops, have excellent built-in microphones, so an additional microphone may not be necessary if you are using these.
    • Piano students are required to have an external microphone to be placed to the side of the music rack.
  • External desktop speakers
    • Any small external speakers: general price range from $25 – $100
    • Any external speakers will substantially enhance the child’s experience hearing the teacher’s instrumental sound.
  • Microphone and speaker connectivity
    • Both must be hard-wired and cannot be blue tooth/wireless.
    • For desktop/laptop: speakers connect in audio port, and mic connects in USB port
    • After connecting mic/speakers, check audio settings on device and in software to ensure mic/speakers are connected and being used. (Brand names of mic/speakers will show in audio settings.)
    • For phone/tablet:
      • Purchase a “dongle” (one end is USB, other end is “lightening” connector).
      • Connect mic with dongle to charging port
      • Connect speakers with their audio cable to audio port
    • Microphone and speaker setup
      • Speakers must be placed substantially behind the microphone.
      • Similarly, if using external microphoneand internal speakers (i.e. speakers within the device), place device behind microphone.
      • Microphone for piano students should be placed beside the music rack, facing the student.


Other Helpful Equipment

  • A music stand or a tripod (Amazon) designed to hold a tablet that can be adjusted to the proper height.


Physical Setup for Music Lesson

  • A quiet room with no distractions
  • Adequate lighting, but without window or strong light shining in device’s camera eye.
  • Music, notebook, pencils, metronome (if used), music stand (if used) assembled.
  • Device positioned (use of special stand, tripod, table or shelf, device stand, etc.) so that camera is at student’s eye level.
  • Student positioned so that camera eye fully captures head, neck, shoulders/upper body, arms, fingers, and as much of instrument as viable.
  • Student positioned about 2 – 3’ from microphone.