I’ve taught online via Skype for years now and have been asked many times about what audio/video/music gear I use for teaching, so I figured I’d share my teaching setup.
To give the student the best experience possible, I make sure that my student can easily hear and see me. I also record the lesson so they have a practice guide until the next lesson. My setup is a little elaborate and in all honesty, you can conduct a lesson with the basic webcam and microphone on your laptop and a headset. But for me, I want the experience to be almost as great as being there in person, so I use the following gear:
Webcam: Blue Eyeball by Blue Microphones
The Blue Eyeball HD webcam is one of the most crystalline audio and video webcams I’ve used. If I am on the road and want a better picture than what my built-in webcam on my laptop has to offer, I can use this camera for both audio and video.
Microphone & Audio Input: Bluebird by Blue Microphones, SL150 USB mic by Editors Keys & Alesis Multi-Mix 8 USB
The Bluebird condenser microphone is a versatile microphone for an affordable price. It assures the lessons are clear and understandable when recorded. It is such a great microphone that I am also using it for music recording.
The Alesis MultiMix 8 USB mixer is the hub that handles my Alesis Keyboard, Blue microphone, and TC-Helicon monitors so that both my students and I can hear the piano and vocals.
The SL150 by Editors Keys is a condenser mic specifically created to be directly input into your computer via USB. This is a great little mic that I use time to time when I’ve got my netbook instead of laptop. I can plug right into the USB port for a solid sound. All in all, between the Eyeball, Bluebird and SL150, I am covered.
Monitors: TC Helicon Voice Solo Monitors
Unfortunately, these great little monitors have been discontinued. But, fortunately for me, I’ve got two of them. Each Voice Solo mounts on the top of a mic stand. I have mine set on each side of my Alesis keyboard for a crisp stereo sound to listen to both my keyboard and the voice of the student.
Headset: Plantronics Wireless Headset
I always have a set of headphones in case my student is listening through monitors. The reason? Latency. Sometimes, I can hear my voice as an echo on the other end when using the monitor or the microphone. With wireless headphones, you can switch both the audio and microphone input to the headphones via Skype. This isn’t ideal for every situation. I don’t recommend singing through the small headset because it will distort the sound. But headphones and the headset mic for temporary use will help when you are dealing with echo. With that said, using headphones for your audio monitors are fine. But choose a better mic such as one I’ve suggested.
Keyboard: Alesis QS7
Ah, how I LOVE this keyboard. I have been a huge Alesis fan since 1991 when I bought my first Quadraverb Plus. Since that time, I’ve owned an ADAT, 3630 compressors,and the S4 and S4 Plus rackmount keyboard units. I now own (and have for years) both a QS7 synthesizer and an 88-key fully weighted QS8 piano, along with five of the Alesis Quadra cards full of great sounds. The QS series has great piano sounds for demonstrating vocal scales.
Recording: G Recorder Pro
I also bought a program through the Skype apps page called G-Recorder pro, which allows me to record the audio of the lesson, automatically convert it to an MP3 and save the file to my Gmail account. I think it is wise to record the lesson for the student so they can review what they’ve learned throughout the week.
Well, that wraps up my teaching setup. I hope it helps those of you who are ready to tackle the life of teaching via Skype or any other video conferencing program. I wrote a little Kindle book called “Online Teaching Secrets Revealed” for those of you who’d like to know more about teaching online. Check it out HERE