When piano lessons return after a summer break, I am confident that we will be welcoming back smiling faces to our piano studios.
How wonderful will that be?!
Nothing will ever replace being able to interact with students in-person. Music is meant to be enjoyed together. It is a shared experience, where friendships through music are just as important as music notes.
I know that these last few months have been hard on all of you. After all, we became music teachers because we enjoy working with students, not computers.
But a silver lining has definitely emerged from this experience. And that silver lining is the Zoom Piano Recital!
I had never before considered holding a Zoom Piano Recital. Now, I can’t imagine a music world where they weren’t used regularly by piano teachers!
Over the last month, I have held 7 Zoom Piano Recitals during the WunderKeys World Tour. Today I want to share with you, a Zoom Piano Recital How-To Guide, so that you can bring this awesome teaching tool to your studio.
Why You Must Throw Zoom Piano Recitals
Let me begin by saying that Zoom Piano Recitals will never replace traditional piano recitals. Traditional piano recitals will always have their places in our studios.
But Zoom Piano Recitals have their place too, and they are just as valuable. These easy-to-organize recitals can be used in many ways, including:
- Small-Group Masterclasses: Piano performances provide a lesson focus that inspires piano practice. But scheduling in-person piano performances takes time and effort. Not only do you have to find a suitable venue but you have to arrange a time when families can physically show up. Small-Group Masterclasses via Zoom allow you to host same-age students in a less intimidating venue that is easy for families to attend.
- Pen Pal Studio Recitals: Piano teachers with bursting studios are popular for a reason. And one reason is that they usually employ unique and innovative teaching techniques. One such technique is connecting with a studio halfway around the world and hosting a shared piano recital over Zoom.
- Recitals For Live-Away Relatives: Music is a communal adventure. Families who believe in music are families who stick with piano lessons. To make sure families are committed to music, it’s always a good idea to allow students to share their music with relatives near and far. With Zoom Piano Recitals, grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles who may live too far away to ever attend a piano recital can finally see their loved ones make music live.
- Rescue Recitals: As we’re discovering, things can happen in this world that can make in-person recitals impossible. Sometimes it’s a virus and other times it’s the weather. In the future, when something beyond your control makes an in-person recital impossible, you can always turn to Zoom to keep the music alive.
So, now that you’re convinced to hop on the bandwagon, I want to share with you, how to host the perfect Zoom Piano Recital. As mentioned, I’ve held quite a few now and have worked out the kinks so that you don’t have to!
12 Tips For A Perfect Zoom Piano Recital
Below I am sharing 12 tips that will make sure your Zoom Piano Recital is enjoyed by students and their families. The final tip (Tip 12) gets its own heading because it is the MOST important. Please don’t forget to read Tip 12!
- Send your individual meeting code/password AND the Zoom link to your students. This enables guests to hop into your recital via a web browser if they don’t have the app downloaded (Grandparents etc.). It’s one less hurdle for you to deal with pre-recital for those who aren’t very familiar with Zoom.
- Ask your students to ask their guests who will be attending to change their names as they log in to “Guest of Lisa,” for example. That way, for security purposes, you know that guests actually do “belong” in your meeting. It’s also nice for you to see “Mark’s Auntie” and then know right away who that guest is when you’re not in a place where you can be personally introduced.
- Use the Zoom Waiting Room. It’s much less chaotic if you are the one in charge of admitting people to the recital. If you pay for a Zoom subscription you can customize the waiting room message to say something like, “Our recital will begin soon, please wait to be admitted,” or something similar, so that guests and performers know they’re in the right place. You don’t need to leave everyone in the waiting room and then have a massive entry. Simply let them in one by one as they arrive (for the reason below).
- As students log in, change their names. To do this, click on “Participants” at the bottom of your screen so you can see your guest list, hover over a student’s name, click “More” and then click, “Rename”. Name your students in the order they will be performing on your program (for example 1. Mary, 2. Joshua, 3. Oakley). Students often accidentally log in using their parent’s name and this can get confusing mid-recital for you. Also, Zoom defaults to organizing participants in alphabetical order. Using the numbered naming method makes it easy to run through your program and find each student immediately. It also bumps guests down to the bottom of the list/gallery so your performers are front and center. Don’t worry if this list sorts differently and changes occasionally before you begin. If some students are unmuted and using their microphone they will be moved to the top. However, when everyone is muted, your list will be in the order of your program. If you have siblings performing, schedule them back-to-back and simply name them accordingly (i.e. 1. Aiden, 2. Graham).
- Ask students to log in 10 minutes before the recital time. This allows you time to admit people, rename them, and add guests from the waiting room, without feeling rushed. It also gives you time to remind students to enable the original sound setting before you begin (Tip 12!). Because it can be awkward to have people sitting and staring at each other for 10 minutes, keep your own video and audio “off” and mute everyone until you’re ready to begin. Your students will catch on and do the same (often, not always LOL).
- If family members in the same home will be watching the recital on more than one device, they will need to be in separate rooms to avoid feedback and echo.
- Teach students to unmute themselves, but do keep an eye on your Participant Dashboard so you can unmute any student who may have forgotten to do so before they begin to play. Mute EVERYONE except for your performer when they are playing. This eliminates background noise. There is one button that mutes everyone at once which makes this easy.
- Spotlight performers as they play so they are large on everyone’s screen (in the Participant Dashboard, hover over their name, and select “Spotlight”).
- Remember to spotlight yourself when you speak (introduction, closing etc.) so everyone can see you enlarged on their screens.
- If you are nervous about remembering to mute and unmute everyone after each performer for applause – consider a visual alternative to applause (guests can wave flags, do jazz hands, give thumbs up, hold signs that say, “Applause” etc.). This is a good thing to think about if it’s your first Zoom recital as the mute and unmute task is just one more thing to think about 🙂
- Take a “group photo” to create a keepsake for your students’ first online recital. Simply select “Gallery view” and then take a screenshot on your computer or device. You can also record your recital by pressing “record” at the beginning.
Tip 12: Enable Original Sound
Given that you are hosting a piano recital, sound quality is the most important consideration. Zoom automatically suppresses what it considers to be “background noise”. This means that music will be compressed and end up sounding electronic, will have an “in and out” effect and no notes will be sustained.
This is a problem… unless you “Enable Original Sound”.
Give your piano students plenty of notice with the instructions below and your sound quality will be much better (feel free to copy/paste this info into an email to them).
Once the setting is enabled your students will STILL need to select “Enable Sound” once they join the recital meeting. It’s something you can remind them to do before you begin, but having this setting ready in advance is key.
Enabling Original Sound On A Computer:
- Make sure you have downloaded the Zoom app to your computer.
- Open the Zoom app.
- Click on “Settings” (the gearbox in the upper right corner).
- Select “Audio”.
- Turn off “Automatically Adjust Microphone Volume” and then select a level that is 3/4 to full.
- Click on “Advanced”.
- Click on “Show in-meeting option to enable original sound” from the microphone.
- When you join the meeting – on the upper left of your screen you’ll see the ability to “Turn off or turn on original sound” – please do this before the recital begins (turn it ON).
Enabling Original Sound On A Device:
- Open the Zoom app.
- Click on “Settings” at the bottom.
- Click on “Meetings”.
- Scroll down until you see “Use Original Sound” – turn this ON.
- When you join the meeting, click on the three dots along your bottom menu bar where it says “More”.
- Click on “Enable Original Sound”.
Do You Have A Zoom Piano Recital Tip?
Have you been hosting your own Zoom Piano Recitals? If so, we’d love to hear about your experiences. In the comments below, share some tips and advice for teachers new to Zoom.