Teaching Trombone from Home

I was convinced today to provide some information about my setup for teaching from home while the university is closed. I’m only providing this to explain what I’m using, I don’t think this is the ideal way to teach trombone online, it is not the best setup money can buy, and I’m mostly hobbling together pieces of equipment I typically use for other things. I hope this information is useful.

Basic set- I’ve been teaching with my laptop on a music stand (a sturdy folding stand that has no play in the desk part) and my microphone and webcam set up on a mic stand. I struggle with actually looking like I’m looking at the students when they play, so I try to keep the camera just above the screen. You can see from the photos that this room is not set up to be a studio- it is our spare bedroom most of the time. Keeping a sparse set up allows me to have space in the room to play the instrument.

I have a CAD u37 USB Condenser mic, it looks like it retails for just over 50$ now, when I bought it a while back it seemed to be competing with Blue Snowball mics. More information can be found in this post from 2016.

I have two different cameras I’m using as webcams. Both are made by Zoom. The Zoom Q8 was purchased last year in response to needing high quality video from performances. The audio on the camera is high quality (as you would expect from Zoom), I like having a camera that can capture descent video and high quality live sound. The camera easily switches into “webcam mode”, there are instructions directly from Zoom. This camera has all sorts of audio options I don’t understand or know about, but the short story is, you can’t use the mic and webcam at the same time. Bummer…

I also have a much smaller and older camera that I’ve been using some, the Zoom Q4. I like this camera because it has a 150 degree lease, so I can show students the horn and my entire body. Again, in webcam mode, you need a separate mic.

I’m using all of this on my MacBook of about 8 years. I’ve used several video platforms, but I think Zoom works the best (I know, it sounds like I really like the word zoom….)

The Zoom platform will change the input volume of the mic, so when I’m playing trombone it lowers the volume, when speaking, it raises the volume so students can hear. Most platforms do this, but zoom seems to do the best for this specific use. I’ve also turned that auto function off and had good luck. You can change all your input/output and video devices from the platform, making it easy to switch equipment if you run into an issue.

Again, I want to stress, I don’t think I have all the answers, I just wanted to share what seems to be working on day 3 of teaching remotely in SOLA. If you have specific questions, drop me an email. Good luck!

Ready to teach!