User Manual (old 1.3)

Please note that a new version of the application which supports both single and dual devices was installed on 30-May-2020.

***** Piano At Home shortcode is here! *******

As a result, some of the information below is now out of date but will be updated as soon as possible.

Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Starting a lesson
  4. Ending a lesson
  5. Choice of devices
  6. Positioning of devices
  7. Web application layout

Overview

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.

Prerequisites

The following prerequisites are required for the Piano At Home online lessons platform:

  1. An internet connection with wifi.
  2. A tablet or laptop with wifi to run the main application.
  3. A mobile phone with wifi to run the piano view webcam application.
  4. A way to hold the mobile phone above the piano keys for the duration of the lesson.
  5. Devices and browsers must be relatively modern or they will not support the technology needed for this platform.
  6. The student must have a piano or keyboard.
  7. 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 can be run using the web links sent 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 on the teacher web link 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.

The teacher then scans the QR code shown on the web application screen using the camera app on their mobile phone. Note that there is no need to take a photo. Just run the camera app on the phone and point the camera at the QR code. When the camera app recognises the QR code it will show a prompt with a web link, similar to the one shown following:

Tap the link and the Piano At Home piano view webcam application will run on your phone turning the phone into a webcam that can now be used to send a view of your hands on the piano keys to the student.

If the student has not already run their application they do so in the same way described above but starting with the student link that the teacher had forwarded to them.

While the applications are waiting to connect a yellow flashing head-and-shoulders icon will be seen on the main application and a yellow flashing phone-with-piano-keys icon will be shown on the piano view webcam application.

When both applications connect the student or teachers video stream will appear and audio will be heard. When the piano view webcam connects the piano icon will turn green.

Ending a lesson

When a lesson is over the teacher says goodbye to the student then taps the red button with the white X. This button sends a command to the students end of the connection to tell both the main application and the piano view webcam application to close down.

If the teacher has another student waiting for a lesson then the connection to the new student will happen automatically within a few seconds.

Otherwise, if there are no more lessons for the day the teacher presses the white button with the black X on their main application to close the application. Likewise, the teach presses the white button with the black X on their piano view webcam application (on the mobile phone) to close the application.

Choice of devices

Best results will be obtained by using either a tablet or laptop for the main application and a mobile phone for the piano view webcam application.

Positioning of devices

The tablet or laptop should be placed in front of the student or teacher either on the piano’s music stand or on top of the piano as shown in the picture below. Sometimes this will not 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

This window shows the teacher’s face-to-face video stream. The teacher always appears in the left hand window.

While the application is waiting to connect, this icon will flash in the window.
If there is a network problem such as no internet connection this icon will flash in the window.

This window shows the student’s face-to-face video stream. The student always appears in the right hand window.

This area of the screen contains the “piano view webcam” QR code. When you scan this code with your phone’s camera and tap the link that pops up, your phone becomes the webcam that sends the view of the piano keys to the other end of the connection.

The purpose of the circular buttons is explained below.

The main screen shows the video feed from the “piano view webcam” at the other end of the connection.

This button hides or shows all the buttons and QRcode. It’s useful when you want to de-clutter the screen. On the student’s screen, the buttons are automatically hidden when the system confirms that both the students face-to-face connection and the piano webcam connection have been established with the teacher.

For teachers the buttons are not hidden automatically, this button must be tapped to hide or show the buttons and QRcode.

This button causes the application to take up the whole screen to improve visibility.

This button closes the Piano At Home application on your device. It’s recommended to close the application with this button when you are finished with lessons for the day.

This button only appears on the teacher’s screen. When this button is pressed it sends a command that closes the Piano At Home applications on both of the student’s devices. This is a very important and handy feature. Typically, when a lesson finishes the teacher would say goodbye to the student and then press this button to ensure the student’s devices relinquish ownership of the student link to allow another student to connect to the teacher.

Where you have back-to-back lessons this works very well especially if the second student has already run the Piano At Home application and is waiting to connect (yellow flashing head and shoulders icon). Shortly after this button is pressed at the end of the first student’s lesson, the second student will connect automatically.