Smoky Hill Music

Guitar, Bass, Banjo, Ukulele Lessons Aurora CO

TUNE UP - Make sure your instrument is in tune BEFORE your lesson. Use a tuner or tuning app such asGuitar Tuna,shown above. If you don't understand how to use it, I will help you. There are also many tutorials for tuning on YouTube. 

CAMERA ANGLE - PLEASE make sure the camera angle and placement clearly shows both of your hands in playing position on the guitar.

Too many of you are having your lessons with a poorly-framed shot, and I have to GUESS where your fingers are placed on the strings.

Set it up so the camera shot is widescreen, not vertical portrait mode.

Take the time before your next lesson to FIX THESE ISSUES.

LIGHTING - If you are setting up your shot with a window behind you and poor lighting, FIX THIS. Some of you are merely silhouettes. If I cannot see how you are playing, I cannot help you. :)

ZOOM - Please take the time to optimize your ZOOM audio settings for music lessons. ZOOM is by default optimized for speech. The software considers anything else besides speech to be background noise, including music. So it closes the microphone signal whenever it detects anything other than speech. The result is audio that is choppy or cuts out. You can fix this problem with a couple clicks on the correct audio settings.  **ZOOM Ipad/Iphone app update contains the correct menu options. Make sure you have the latest update installed! Instructions below.

AUDIO/PICTURE QUALITY- Check your computer or camera settings to make sure you are getting the best possible picture and audio. If possible, connect your computer via ethernet cable rather than Wi-Fi if you have issues like freezing picture, lag, poor quality.

If you have bandwidth issues, try to limit streaming things like Netflix or online gaming during your lesson time. This will require family members to be cool about it. So family members, be cool.

LESSON MATERIALS - If you do not receive a copy of your song charts or tabs etc within a day, please send me a reminder. I'm trying to keep the process organized but after a long stretch of 10 or 12 lessons I sometimes might forget which to send whom.

Frame your shot so both hands are visible in playing position.

We'll be using the ZOOM app for our online lessons.

Make sure you download the latest version (or update your current version) to get access to all the necessary audio settings features.

If at all possible, use a Desktop, Laptop, or Tablet.

Your phone screen is too small to be an effective lessons device.

PARENTS- Please be present and available during lessons to assist your child with any technical issues.

Important-- if you have the recently updated version of Zoom (august 2020), your settings will be slightly different. Scroll down below for that updated info.

During your lesson- make sure it looks like this in the upper left corner. 

Join the Zoom lesson by entering the Meeting number and password that I provide to you.

It will be the same each week.

Once you join the meeting, you will be in the Lesson Waiting Room. Wait there until I admit you in to begin our lesson.

1. Uncheck "automatically adjust microphone volume.

2. Select "Low" for "suppress background noise"

3. click "advanced" in the lower right corner of the setting window

Make sure the little box in the upper left hand corner of your screen says "TURN OFF ORIGINAL SOUND." This means the setting is enabled (on) . If it says "Turn on,," then click it to enable it. It should be blue when turned on.


On your desktop or laptop, open your zoom AUDIO SETTINGS. (^menu icon next to the microphone symbol) 

Uncheck "automatically adjust volume."

Click "Advanced" to go to the next screen.

online lessons instructions


Access the settings on your tablet by clicking the three dots in the upper right corner. Select "Enable Original Sound."

Check the box that says "Show in meeting option to enable original sound." This will allow me to hear your guitar properly.

DISABLE both the items that refer to suppressing background noise. Zoom by default considers your guitar to be background noise.

Set echo cancellation to Auto.

You will need the following items in the lesson area: guitar, chair, music stand, tablet/laptop/ desktop, ZOOM app, guitar pick. Electric guitar players will also need to have their amplifier.

It will be a great benefit for you to also have a printer, so you can print out lesson material, song tabs, scale charts, etc. that we will use for lessons.

4. Make sure you have checked the box for "Enable Original Sound."

5. Make sure echo cancellation is set to "Auto"