- Starting a lesson
- Scanning the QR code
- Ending a lesson
- Choice of devices
- Positioning of devices
- Web application layout
- Controlling the application
Piano At Home uses web-based applications over the internet to provide video connections between teacher and student. The applications run in the web browser already present on common everyday devices like mobile phones, tablets and laptops.
The applications are accessed using web links that are sent to the teacher by email after registration.
Only the teacher needs to be registered to use Piano At Home. Students do not need to be registered.
You can send the student link to as many students as you want but keep in mind that the teacher link is uniquely paired with the student link and is encrypted and tied to the teachers registration account.
The teacher must keep their teacher web link confidential – it must not be shared with anyone else. The teacher link activates special features in the Piano At Home web application to help the teacher control the lessons.
The following prerequisites are required for the Piano At Home online lessons platform:
- An internet connection (either wired, wifi or both depending on your setup).
- A tablet, laptop (or large phone – but not ideal) to run the main application.
- A mobile phone with wifi to run the piano view webcam application.
- A way to hold the mobile phone above the piano keys for the duration of the lesson.
- Devices and browsers must be reasonably modern or they will not support the technology needed for this platform.
- The student must have a piano or keyboard.
- The teacher should have power adaptors and charging cables that can be attached to both devices to keep them from running out of power during lessons.
Starting a lesson
There are two web-based applications used by the Piano At Home platform. The first is the main application that is run using the teacher and student web links sent in the emails after registration. The second is the piano view webcam application that is run by scanning the QR code shown on the main application screen.
Web links are provided in pairs, one for the teacher and one for the student. The student link must be sent to all students who will be taking Piano At Home lessons and the same link is used for all students. It’s up to the teacher to coordinate which student is having lessons at any given time, just as it would be with physical lessons.
To start a lesson the teacher clicks or taps on the teacher web link from the email and the web browser will open and prompt to allow access to the camera and audio. Tap the ‘Allow’ button and the main web application is now up and running and waiting for a connection with the student’s application.
Scanning the QR code
The teacher then scans the QR code shown on the web application screen using the camera app on their mobile phone, as follows:
- Run the camera app on the phone.
- Point the camera at the QR code.
- Do NOT take a picture, just keep the QR code in the camera frame until the weblink pops up (or down).
- Try not to get the image of your face in the camera frame or it will take focus away from the QR code (if this happens you can tap the QR code on your phone to give it the focus – or you can try to scan in portrait mode to narrow the frame).
- Tap the link that pops up (or down) and the piano view webcam application will run on your phone turning the phone into a webcam that sends a view of your piano keyboard to the student.
If the camera does not scan the QR code then you may need to turn on “Scan QR Code” in the camera app settings (iPhone). For Android phones you may need to download a free app to do it. More details can be found on this website: https://www.wikihow.com/Scan-a-QR-Code
If the student has not already run their application they can do so in the same way described above but starting with the student link instead of the teacher link.
Note that the QR code does not have to be scanned every time you start lessons since the app will still be running on the phone even when a lesson is ended. Also, you could save a link to the running application on the phone to your favourites just as you can for any web page. Then you can tap the favourites link instead of scanning the QR code from that point on.
While the applications are waiting to connect either “Waiting for call” or “Calling” will be shown in the purple status window.
When both applications connect the video streams will appear and audio will be heard.
Ending a lesson
When a lesson is over the teacher says goodbye to the student then taps either the red button with the white X or the white button with the black X, depending on whether there is another lesson following immediately.
The red button closes all applications on all connected devices and should be used when you don’t have any following lesson.
The white button closes only the applications on the student’s devices and should be used when you have another lesson following straight after. This button will leave the teacher’s devices in ready mode so that they connect as soon as the next student is ready. If the next student is already waiting to connect then the connection will typically happen within a very short time after disconnecting from the previous lesson.
If a student clicks their link while another lesson is underway the status box on the screen will show, “Waiting for call”. Most of the time this will be fine but it’s better if the student doesn’t click their link until it’s time for their lesson.
Choice of devices
Best results will be obtained by using either a 9 inch or above tablet or laptop for the main application and a mobile phone for the piano view webcam application. Nevertheless, various combinations are possible and whatever works for you is fine.
Positioning of devices
The tablet or laptop should be placed in front of the teacher or student either on the piano’s music stand or on top of the piano as shown in the picture below. Sometimes this won’t be possible due to the shape of the piano, especially when a laptop is used. In this case the device can be placed on a table or chair to the left or right of the piano, or in whatever location works for you.
The mobile phone providing the piano view should be placed above the keyboard looking down over the area your hands will be positioned during the lesson, as in the following picture.
It’s up to your imagination to devise a means to hold the phone in place. In the picture above the phone is held in a selfie stick attached to a microphone stand with insulation tape. There is no hard and fast rule on how to do this. For students, they could even have someone hold the phone for the whole lesson until a more permanent solution is found.
You will notice in the picture above that there is a cable plugged into the phone. This is a long power cable to provide power during the lesson. While this may not be needed for students it is highly recommended for teachers especially if you will be teaching consecutive lessons. If you rely on the battery alone it may not last the length of your lessons. The same is true for your main application device.
Web application layout
Video windows will be arranged automatically on the screen depending on the size, orientation (portrait or landscape) and number of devices.
The layout is designed to give the biggest possible picture for the video used to show the piano keyboard.
When a second (piano view webcam) device is connected the main screen automatically adds the view to cover the whole screen with the smaller face to face windows shown in a corner or at the top for a narrow portrait view.
Controlling the application
There are a few ways to control the application, as described following:
Tap anywhere on the screen
The buttons will disappear (along with the QR code) whenever one of the following events occur:
- The user taps the screen (anywhere except on one of the buttons or the QR code). Tapping the screen toggles the buttons and QR code visibility on and off.
- The other participant in the call connects a second device (piano view webcam). When this happens the QR code and buttons on your screen will disappear but can be made visible again by tapping anywhere on the screen (as mentioned above).
Tap the QR code
Tapping the QR code with make it bigger which may help your phone to read it in some cases. Tapping again will cause the QR code and buttons to disappear but they can be made visible again by tapping anywhere on the screen (as mentioned above).
Tap one of the buttons
Various buttons appear in the top right hand corner of the screen on each application. The function of these buttons is described below.
This button button appears on all devices and is used to close the application.
On the teacher’s main device the button closes ALL connected devices including the student’s main device, piano view webcam device and the teacher’s piano view webcam device and finally the teacher’s main device.
Use this button when you do not have another lesson to begin right away.
This is the application refresh button. Tapping this button causes the application to be reloaded, kind of like an application reboot.
If unusual problems occur such as no sound being heard after video has connected, or the like, then tapping this button will force the connection to be renegotiated which may fix the problem.
This is the first button to reach for if you are having trouble connecting. You can use it as many times as you like – it won’t hurt anything.
This button rotates the main view by 90 degrees with each tap to cater for situations where the other participant has difficulty positioning the webcam to the desired orientation.
This button closes the applications on the student’s devices including the student’s main device and the student’s piano view webcam device.
Use this button to finish the current lesson when you have another consecutive lesson starting right away. The applications on the current student’s devices will be closed allowing the next student to connect right away.
Use the browser controls
Some of the browser controls can be used to affect the Piano At Home application.
You can tap the “refresh” icon to reload the application. This has the same function as the “refresh” button mentioned above.
If the application is running in a browser tab then if the tab is closed the application will also close.
Likewise, if the browser application is closed the application will close too.