Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

  • I teach yoga, Nia, and stretch online!

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Posts Tagged ‘teaching from home’

Improve Your Zoom Class Sound

Posted by terrepruitt on May 11, 2020

I have not been feeling very bloggy lately. Sometimes when I have an idea I don’t have the energy to write it. And when I have the energy I don’t have any ideas. I have been wanting to share something regarding online classes so I thought I had better write it up so I can have it ready for Monday. Last month I taught a Nia live stream class and I was told the sound was good. The students could hear the music and me. Now keep in mind I do not have a studio nor equipment made especially for streaming classes. I am pretty much like most of the other dance exercise instructors that decided they needed to live stream classes. For Nia I am in my living room, most often having to try to not step on a cat. I am very lucky that we do have a laptop that I can use. And since my hubby is working from home he was able to lend me his home monitor and brought his work monitor home. Also, I am borrowing the office microphone. It is not a headset microphone, but it is super cool. For music I use my Block Rocker. I don’t know what they hear, I experimented with recording it before the actual class, but that was just a test . . . I don’t know what it sounds like when I do the actual class, but for the first class they said it was ok. But in between classes I have been visiting with people on Zoom and I had adjusted my mic volume and forgot. So my second Nia class had audio issues. They couldn’t hear me. There are so many things it could have been, so I went through everything and I just wanted to share some settings with you that might help your sound quality in your classes.

I know that Zoom has a lot of videos and instructions on many things. I get e-mails from them all the time saying they are holding classes regarding how to do this and how to do that. So they probably have some information out there regarding this but maybe not because they were originally designed to be a meeting platform. With what is going on in the world we all took it over and we are using it for everything.

The first thing I had to make sure wasn’t causing sound issues was the mic cord. So we got new ones to take care of that in case that was an issue. Then I went into the Zoom settings. Every time I use Zoom it needs an update so every time I update it I check my settings because I am afraid that they will be changed with the update and that is where I discovered I had turned down my mic. I had turned it down for a Zoom visit and didn’t turn it back up for the class.

So, I think the best way to get the best sound is to turn up your mic AND . . . go into advance settings and make sure you disable “Suppress Persistent Background Noise” and “Suppress Intermittent Background Noise” I think that having them on auto confuses the system when teaching. Originally I had both of them on “auto” because I was thinking . . . I don’t want the jackhammering outside my house to be heard, but then I thought what if the system is thinking my music/voice is background noise. Because my students had said that the music cut out once or twice. So I think, it either considers my voice or the music as “background noise”. Because, remember this platform was not designed for music and voice, and especially not designed for either/both to be directed at it from three feet away.

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Turn up the mic and speakers in the “Audio” section of “Settings” – Open settings by clicking on arrow next to audio in lower left hand corner

Now I am not sure how it sounds when the music isn’t louder than the background noise and there actually is background noise (like the jackhammer). But if you disable the suppressions it might give your students a more consistent sound. The last two classes I taught with the new cord and the adjusted settings, the students had said the music didn’t cut out and they could hear me fine.

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If I were in an uncarpeted space, I would change the “Echo Cancellation” to “Aggressive” because I have taken classes that sound so “tinny”, and I would hope that the change in setting would help that. But in both spaces where I teach I have carpet.

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I also have “Enable Original Sound” OFF because Zoom’s site states if your mic HAS auto enhancing capabilities then the sound from it will be enhanced, but if it DOES NOT, then you don’t want to use it. This might actually be the key to better sound as it allows the “Audio Processing” to work.

So, I think having music and talking as one does in a live streaming dance exercise class turning the suppressing settings to “Disable” are a good bet.

So have you taken any Zoom classes? How do they sound?  What do you think?

Posted in Nia, Online Classes, Zoom | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »

We Are All Doing New Things

Posted by terrepruitt on April 29, 2020

You may have noticed I have missed a few days posting. I have a self-imposed schedule to post Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Three times a week is a lot when I am not a writer. It is not as if I have things I want to get out or stories to tell. I started posting Friday Photos because I still wanted to post three times a week, but I thought pictures would be fast for me to post and fast for you to “read”. I have a lot to say about what is going on in the world right now- especially since it is really somewhat ALL that is going on right now – but the information changes so fast and as with everything we are all in different situations, I don’t want to have a bunch of coronavirus / COVID-19 stuff on my blog. So, I haven’t kept to my schedule. I do want to share something somewhat related though, a post came across my Facebook feed within the last few of days and I sympathized with the person. Then last night I realized I am in the same boat and a lot of us are in similar boats due to the storm that is raging.

My “boat” is not EXACTLY like my Facebook friend’s because she is more like on a cruise ship whereas I am in a little dingy. She has a dance studio that usually has at least 35 classes a week (I am guess because I don’t remember, but it is A LOT) and she has converted a lot of them to virtual classes. Granted she has a studio from which to transmit the classes, but she and her fellow instructors are doing a lot of classes. She had shared a list of the things she was saying she needed to be right now which included a manager, a set designer, and a camera woman, I didn’t really think too much about it because the post was long and my focus was on another portion of it. But then a couple of days later my friend asked me what else I had been doing aside from teaching classes and I thought, “Snap! What have I been doing? Why don’t I have a lot of time?”

Then shortly there after I received some payments for some classes and set about sending out thanks yous and the information needed to join the class. And doing the bookkeeping that I think needs to go along with all of it. Also, having sweet little side conversations with the students that are purchasing the classes. Then I needed to think about the classes themselves, deciding on what to teach. I don’t like to teach the same thing every class and the only way I can manage that is to plan my classes in advance. And then . . . I need to make sure that the computer is set up . . . Zoom is basically doing updates every time I start a meeting so I must make sure that my settings have not changed. Then I need to make sure that the camera/laptop is set up to capture me and not just the wall. THEN I need to make sure that the space is set up. I mean, I know that everyone understands that we are doing classes out of our homes so there is going to be a room with furniture and maybe even pets walking around, but I try to keep in clean and empty when I can . . . but that requires continual upkeep and/or rearranging things.

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At first when my friend asked me I was thinking I must be experiencing some sort of time “event” because I wasn’t getting much done during the day nor was I just sitting around watching TV. But then I realized that all of this new stuff, this new way of teaching takes time.

I am so grateful to all of my students who keep encouraging me to continue teaching online. I am so humbled that they keep coming back. I love that they are helping me through the little speed bumps (Did I really have the input volume turned DOWN?) so that I can deliver a quality class – one that I feel good about and one that has them feeling good after taking.  But I really don’t have extra time.  I feel I am working more than I was P.C. (pre-COVID) because it is more involved to do a class.

So while we are not all in the same situation, I know a lot of us are having to do and learn new things.  So for those of you that have added a whole new set of skills to your list – Cheers.  Hears to you – to us!  Hang in there.

So are you doing anything new?  Have you learned something new?  Are you having to be an audio technician or a camera person?

Posted in Online Classes, Zoom | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »