If you want to be able to teach online lessons using the webcam on your computer, the technology available today makes this a lot easier than you might think.

What you'll Need

Before we get started, there are some things you're going to need.

  1. Webcam - While it is, of course, possible to give a music lesson with only an audio connection, the experience is far less than wonderful. Also, in my experience teaching guitar, being able to see what the student's hands are doing is critical to spotting bad habits before they get too firmly entrenched.

  2. Zoom Account - Obviously, if you're going to use Zoom, you'll need to have a Zoom account. You'll also need to download the Zoom software to your computer. You can sign up for a free account, and download the free software, from Zoom's website.

  3. Your students who will participate in Zoom lessons will probably have a better experience if they download the software as well. They can click on the link you send them, and they will be prompted to download and install it automatically, and that will be enough for their end. They won't need to set up a full account if they are not hosting any meetings.

Next, you might want to add some special settings for your calendar events

Editing Your Calendar Settings

If you already have a location and category you want to use for Zoom lessons, you can skip ahead to the next section. If you don't, this part is not necessary, but it makes things easier for you on some levels.

  1. Click on the arrow in the upper right corner of the website and select Settings from the menu that drops down

  2. Click on the Calendar tab and scroll down to the area labelled Lesson Settings

  3. On the far right you'll see the place where you can Edit Locations. At the bottom of that section is a place to create new locations. Enter a Name for the location you want to use, and a Description if you'd like

  4. Click the green Add Button

  5. Scroll to the bottom and Save Calendar Settings

After you add the location, you can edit the icon that is associated with it.

If you want to add a special Category to use, you can do that in almost the same way from the Edit Categories section, right next to the Edit Locations section, except that the options for Categories are the background color and the foreground (text) color.

Once you have your Zoom account, and you’ve downloaded the software, you’ll want to sign into the Zoom application and gather some information. Zoom has two ways of doing things that will both be valid here, so we’ll look at both options.

My Personal Meeting ID (PMI)

When you first open your Zoom account, you are assigned your own Personal Meeting ID (PMI). This is a number that is unique to your account. When you launch the Zoom application, you can click on the Meetings icon at the top of the application window and it will show your PMI as a 10 digit number, broken into 3 groups of numbers by hyphens.

On this screen, if you click the link that says, “Show Meeting Invitation,” the application will show the text that serves as the invitation for your PMI.

Highlight and copy the URL.

Enable Zoom In your Settings

The next step is to enable Zoom in your studio Settings.

1. Log into your MTH account through the website (not the mobile app). In the upper right corner, click the arrow and select Settings from the menu that drops down.
2. Make sure you're on the Studio tab and scroll down just below your email and phone and click the checkbox labeled, "Enable Zoom Meetings."

3. With that option selected, paste the Personal Meeting URL that you copied from your Zoom account into the space provided. Then scroll to the bottom and Save Studio Settings.

Unique Meeting IDs for each student

If you want to have a distinct Meeting ID for each student, you’ll need to first schedule your meeting.

  1. In the Zoom application, click the Plus sign to schedule a meeting.

    2. Make sure that the Date and Time are correct, or select the option for a Recurring meeting.
    3. At the bottom, under Calendar, make sure to select Other Calendars.

    4. Click the Schedule button, and then either highlight and copy the invitation text, or click the Copy Invitation button.

Setting Up The Lesson

  1. Go to the Calendar page using the menus on the far left side of your screen. 

  2. If you're switching an existing lesson to be a Zoom lesson, click on the event in the calendar, and then click the Edit icon in the popup

  3. If you're setting up a brand new lesson as a Zoom lesson, either click the date you want the lesson to be on and choose Add Lesson (or Add Group Lesson) from the menu; or you can click the Add New button above the calendar and choose Lesson (or Group Lesson) from that list

  4. From the next page, make sure all of the selections are the ones you want, and then scroll down and Select Enable Zoom Meeting for this event (when creating a new event, you'll need to click the "Add detail" option first).

5. You can use the Personal Meeting URL that you entered into your Studio Settings earlier, and that will be the end of this part.
6. If you want a different Meeting URL for this event, first follow the instructions above for using a unique meeting ID for each student. You can click the option to "Enter Meeting URL" and then enter that unique meeting URL in the space provided.

After you do this, your reminder emails should include the link. In order for your reminders to include the link, the variable for {$lessonNotes}` must be included in the reminder template. As long as it is included, the software will add the Zoom link to the email when it is sent.

Launching The Zoom Lesson

When it's time for the lesson to happen, you can sign into your Zoom application and start the meeting. Or, you can log into your MTH account, go to the calendar, and click on the event. If Zoom has been enabled for that lesson, there will be a button in the popup that says, "Start Zoom Meeting."

Instruct your students that, when it’s time for the lesson, they need to click the URL that is in the Emil Reminder.

Zoom works best if the student has it installed on their computer, too. If they don’t, they can attend the meeting in the web browser window that opens when they click the link. It can take a few minutes for it to download and install, so if they are going to download the Zoom software, it’s best if they click the link extra early to give themselves time for the download and installation to complete.

Students can join the meeting by clicking the link in the reminder email, or they can login, go to the calendar, and join the meeting from there with a button on the calendar popup, similar to the one that the teacher sees.

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