These Skype lesson tips are to help you get the most out of your lesson after you are all set up with the Skype software. See this page for technical help.
Skype and other online conferencing technology is a wonderful tool and offers new and seasoned harpers in far-flung areas of the world a great opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise find. Are you ready for twenty-first century harp lessons?
How to Get the Most Out of Skype Harp Lessons
Okay, so you met the requirements and downloaded Skype. Here are some general tips for Skype harp lessons (or any lessons via video conferencing software).
1. Make sure you have good light around you and the harp, so the teacher gets a clear picture. Usually, I ask the student to sit so I am looking at his or her right side, just as at a “real world” lesson, but it’s helpful to have enough space to sometimes change that.
2. If you’re using your regular mic and speakers, be sure the volume is not cranked all the way up, or there will be feedback. On the Mac, one or two boxes down from the top seems to work well. You can also shield your computer mic with a sticky note to “buffer” it from the speakers. A headset for internet chatting can be a big help, as the mic on the headset picks up the harp as well as your voice while minimizing background noise. Of course, try to choose a quiet environment, too.
3. If there is static noise or an annoying sound/picture delay, I have found that hanging up and trying again usually solves the problem. Sometimes, just as with cell phones, the connection just isn’t the best, and it’s usually fine the second time. That’s because each call is “pinged” via online users, so every route is different.
4.If you’re experiencing difficulties, it might help to close down your other programs before “calling” with Skype or another program. Don’t try to open anything internet-related during the call if you can avoid it. Do everything you can, in other words, to let the connection have all the ‘juice” it needs to work well.
5. Take notes (plan for this by having what you need ready and accessible) and use email to follow up with questions or ask in advance for things you’d like to discuss at your lesson. As long as you aren’t peppering your teacher with questions and comments in between lessons, this is very helpful for both you and your teacher to make the most of your lesson time.
6. Given that a teacher can’t put her/his hands on you to help reposition your hands, you need to make sure that you understand what the suggested changes feel like. I demonstrate for students, watch them carefully, and I also often ask them to tell me how they’ll remember what it feels like/looks like when they have the correct position. If you aren’t clear, ask for another demonstration, or another metaphor, or another explanation, until you are confident you can recreate the hand position yourself. As with any harp lessons, correct hand position takes time and tweaking every week until it feels natural and automatic (but it will happen!).