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If you only did 3 things from this list:

  1. Optimize your internet connection.

  2. Get a tripod or stand for your device.

  3. Get a microphone.

 (BONUS!  Get a Bluetooth speaker.)

also be sure to read:   Set Up Tips: Online Lessons



  • The camera on your laptop, phone, or tablet

    • Use what you have!

    • Optimize position:  Check out options below for stands & mounts.


  • Webcam

    • XPCAM 4K web camera  (this is the one I use - it's decent and not expensive)

    • Logitech: most well known - also generally more expensive.  FYI: not necessarily better than other similar priced webcams so shop around & compare.

    • More HERE.



Lighting is optional, and maybe not a priority.  If you have decent lighting in your room or can move a lamp around, you’re probably fine.  But - extra lighting could be useful if you have lessons late in the day/evening (especially during the long, dark hours of winter!) or the position of your camera prevents clear lighting.




Fifine usb mic.jpg
  • USB microphone (for laptop)


  • Microphone for iPhone / iPad

    • Search:  microphone for phone.  Various models with either a headphone jack connection, or a lighting cable connection.  Lots of affordable options! 


  • USB or Bluetooth speaker

    • I’ve been using a small Bose SoundLink bluetooth speaker, just because that’s what I already have (it was a gift many years ago).  It’s good - definitely WAY better than my computer speakers.  I have an older model no longer available, but here’s the current model.

    • Shop around - there are a lot of great bluetooth speakers out there now, at really affordable prices.


  • Headphones or Earbuds (wired or Bluetooth)

    • Good headphones will absolutely improve the sound quality of what YOU’RE listening to.  The mic will not be best for piano though.  Better: an external mic + headphones, or skip the headphones: use a combo of a bluetooth/USB speaker + microphone.

    • Using headphones during the lesson: a wired set is probably better than bluetooth (make sure the cord is long enough!).  Weak WIFI signals can get overloaded it with too many wireless devices & slow down your connection.


  • Optimize the audio settings on your device and on Zoom (see my Set Up Tips page for more)

Stands & Mounts


  •  Music Stand  -   Affordable, and multipurpose!  Use it as a:

    • phone or tablet stand

    • clamp a ring light or small microphone to it

    • set your laptop on it when locked horizontal 

    • just make sure it’s stable & strong enough before clamping things or holding your computer!

    • Like this one.






  • DIY your own!  Search Pinterest or Google for some creative low-cost ideas to hack your own device holders.

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Adapter & Cables
  • Portable battery charger (for phone/tablet)

​​So you’re not stuck to a wall outlet.


  • Lightening-to-dual Headphone / Charger split adapter

    •  Like this one  or like these.  Allows you to plug more items into one lightening port on your device:  charge your iPhone/iPad AND connect a microphone or headphones (or both) at the same time.



  • USB Extension Cable

    • like this one, when your webcam or microphone doesn’t reach your laptop.


  • Long Ethernet Cables 

    • if you’re using a laptop, you can connect an ethernet cable directly into your router/modem.  A hardwire connection will give you a faster internet speed than wifi.



Software & Internet


ethernet wifi.jpg
  • Zoom

    • The main platform I use.  I like the features: Whiteboard, Share Screen, & Recording.

    • Alternatives - FaceTime, Skype, Google Duo (as backups).


  • Sharing videos, photos, sheet music & files

    • Apple:  Photos -  Shared Albums

    • Google Drive

    • DropBox

    • YouTube


  • Recording

    • Built-in camera/video on any device 

    • QuickTime (for video recording on your laptop)



  • Check your internet service and connection speed. 

    • Sound quality and smooth time syncing (critical for music!) improves significantly if you can get 25 - 40 Mbps.  

    • Do some speed tests to see what you’re actually getting: use  or check if your service provider has a speed test on their home page. 

    • Depending on your internet subscription (and your budget), you may not have any control over the internet speed delivered to you, or if your provider may be throttling the connection due to high usage in the area.  Some days are just bad internet days.


  • WIFI improvements:

If your WIFI connection is consistently bad, and speed tests are a lot lower than the full bandwidth stated through your provider, or it’s lower than ~ hovering around 10 Mbps, then it’s time for some improvements:


  1. Try a different location for your router/modem (if possible) so the signal is closer / stronger.

  2. Add a WIFI signal booster.

  3. Up-grade your router and/or modem (especially if they’re more than 3-5 years old)

  4. Try a mesh router system.  

    • We use the eero system for our home, and it’s a great improvement!

  5. Use an ethernet cable to connect your laptop directly into your router/modem to get a much faster speed.  See my link above under Adapters & Cables for extra long Ethernet cables.

  6. Operating systems:  check your laptop and devices to make sure they’re using the latest operating systems, to support optimal internet management.  This does make a difference.

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