How Online Group Classes Work

Online Group Classes are announced in the appropriate Slack channel (if you're not on the Sweet Music Slack, you need to be registered for weekly private lessons to receive an invitation) usually an hour or so prior to the start of the group (7pm).  Prior to clicking on the invitation link, make sure you have optimized your connection.  You will need a good separate microphone, quality headphones or speakers, a metronome and a LAN connection.  Once you are set up for a great connection, click the invitation link, then the green (or teal) "Join" button.  You will be using an app called Google Meet.  For those of you who were online in the early 20's, you might remember similar products offered under the Google brand such as Wave, + and Hangouts.  Meet is Google's alternative to the popular Chinese-owned product Zoom.  Check it out here.  If you're familiar with Zoom, then you will know how to use Meet.  There are some significant differences.  Meet doesn't steal your personal information, doesn't sell it on the black market and won't install spyware on your computer.  I personally think the sound quality is also better. 

LAN Connection
Due to the slight delay or "lag" in transmission of image and sound over the internet, you can optimize your connection by making sure that you're directly connected to your internet modem with a LAN cable.  If you don't have one, you can buy one from Walmart or Amazon.  They are not expensive.  Measure the distance from your computer to the modem and then give yourself an extra six feet (just in case).  A direct connection can be 10 times faster than a wifi connection, which will decrease any lag you might be experiencing over Wifi.  If you would like help setting up your computer and modem, let me know!

Good Separate Microphone
All laptops and webcams come with some kind of an internal microphone, depending on the laptop/webcam brand, the quality can range from ok to not bad, but never good or very good.  To optimize your sound input, you will need a good microphone.  I recommend the "Blue" microphone from Snowball, but there are others.  Read the reviews on Consumer Reports' website and pick something you like.  Make sure it's a USB connection because some microphones plug into a separate mic jack, and some are bluetooth. 

Quality Headphones or Speakers
All laptops come with speakers.  Some desktop pc's also come with them.  I recommend the Jeecoo USB Pro Gaming Headset, but there are others.  Make sure you get a USB connection, and cups that go over the ears.  You can also get a set of quality external speakers with subwoofer.  Harmon Kardon is a good brand.

There are decent apps offered for iPhone and Android.  You can also buy a standalone version that sits on your desk.  I like the mechanical ones offered by Gleam so I can take it outside or on the porch where there's no power. 

Online Group Classes start at 7pm and go for about an hour.  They may go slightly over depending on a variety of factors, but plan for an hour minimum.

During the class, each person will take a turn playing their part for a predetermined length of time.  For example, in the Celtic class, each person will play the tune once through.  In the Classical Mandolin class, each person will play approximately 20 measures.  While you are waiting your turn, you will have your microphone muted so that you can play along with the person who is playing at that time.  They, in turn, will play along with you.  Due to the slight delay/lag, there really is no other way to do it.  But this way, members have an opportunity to socialize with others, to "play" music with others and to work with a metronome, which is a good skill to have.  (When we finally can return to some sense of normalcy after the COVID19 pandemic has subsided, we will be that much more precise).