Here are some suggestions that I’ve put together to help my students set up for their Skype guitar lesson with me so they can get the most out of their session.
I’ve spent time analyzing the best format and setup that doesn’t involve spending money or rearranging part of the apartment as the majority of students actually set up for a lesson in their bedroom, kitchen, or living room.
So let’s look at the best ways to achieve a quality setup.
First thing to consider is the lighting. If the light source is poor, then the picture quality that you transmit will be grainy and will lag.
Always try and setup your position so that you are facing the light. Don’t worry about the light level behind you (if there is not enough light behind you the camera will adjust to it automatically). Ideally during daytime hours it’s better to sit towards the window or if the window is behind you then close the curtains and turn on the ceiling lights. If you have multiple electric light sources, try to use the light either to your front or close to you.
This is always a tricky subject to deal with.
However, there are ways to minimize sound reflection without installing sound proofing to your living room or kitchen. If you’re in a room that has a door, then close all the doors.
Drawing curtains in a room can absorb some sound in a room especially if you are in a room with high ceiling or a kitchen area that has very little furniture.
If you are taking a lesson that involves you using an amplifier, then you need to have the amp as close to you as possible with the speaker facing towards the microphone. The reason behind it is that most microphones are set to automatically adjust according to the strongest sound level thinking that the loudest sound is the one you want to record. If you have multiple sound sources i.e. voice and amplifier in different locations or your amplifier way back behind you, the microphone won’t be able to balance the sound sources quick enough.
So to help the mic we must bring the two sources as close as possible to each other.
In general, these few suggestions should be sufficient to improve the qualify of your picture and sound and make your lessons more enjoyable.
In this next section I will discuss extra methods that you can use not only for your Skype lessons, but also to record yourself playing with backing tracks and YouTube videos or even making your own YouTube videos.
This method applies to Windows users, there is a link later in this section for Apple users.
Voicemeeter Banana is donation ware software and is one of the best pieces of free software that I have used for a long time.
The software acts a mixing desk on your PC/laptop and allows external and internal sounds to be mixed and outputted to Skype, Audacity, or any other recording DAW you might use. It also has its own internal recording facility so you can create your own mp3s.
I have created a full guide on how to download, install and configure the software. The program replaces the standard Windows audio output mixer, and can be left running in the background while you use your computer as normal.
Here is the Pdf file to download with all the details.