Schedule a lesson (use the form at the bottom of the page if you haven't done that already).
- Be sure your microphone and headphones/speakers are plugged in, turned on, and turned up. Please stop here, check your microphone and speaker setup, and continue only when they're working properly and turned up loudly enough to be heard.
- Download and run the lesson software (2 megs). Click the "agree" link at the bottom of the license page, and open the install package directly from the web site (you don't need to save it - just click the link and select "Run" or "Open" when prompted).
- When the software begins, you'll be prompted to choose a teacher name. Select an available teacher from this list - the instructors listed at that link are currently online and available to talk with you! That's it - you'll be connected to a teacher momentarily.
NOTE: Your firewall program (Norton, McAfee, Zone Alarm, etc) will pop up a message asking if it should allow the musiclessonz.com applications. You must click "allow" to connect with your instructor!
If you have any questions, please call your instructor directly, or phone 215-860-7625 for musiclessonz.com technical support.
Before the First Lesson:
Requirements: A computer with Microsoft Windows (9x, XP, NT, 2000, 2003, etc.), Internet Explorer browser, a working Internet connection, sound card, and a microphone headset (or separate mic and headphones). If any of those things aren't installed or working, please call the manufacturer of your equipment, your Internet service provider, and/or your local computer shop before scheduling a lesson. Time spent troubleshooting local computer problems separate from the lesson software will be billed at the normal lesson rate.
For Every Lesson:
- Restart your computer well before your lesson time, and be sure that no unnecessary programs are running. Be especially sure to close any programs that play music or use the web cam.
- Plug in your headset /microphone, and be sure the volume is set to an audible level
- Click Start -> Programs -> Musiclessonz.com to run the lesson software. This opens the Lesson Page and Control Panel. Two programs will open: (1) the Lesson Page in Internet Explorer, and (2) the Musiclessonz.com Lesson Manager. The Lesson Manager is a small program in the upper right hand corner of your screen - it stays on top of all other windows throughout your lesson, and provides quick access to every option in the lesson software.
- When you run the lesson software at your lesson time, you'll be connected automatically with your teacher's audio stream, and you'll be able to talk with him. If he doesn't respond to the initial automatic connection, click the "CALL TEACHER" button in the lesson manager.
- Click the checkbox marked "Teacher Video", directly below his/her image on the lesson page (this starts the video moving).
Troubleshooting: The text chat page opens automatically at the beginning of every lesson, just in case you have problems connecting with your teacher. The text chat allows you to communicate with your teacher temporarily if you can't get the audio communication working. If you live in the US or Canada, your teacher can call you by phone to help start the software. If you'd like to receive phone support outside the US, it's available for a fee based on current phone rates. For additional support, Musiclessonz.com technical support can be contacted by email at "support1 at musiclessonz.com" and by voice mail at 215-860-7625.
The directions above will get you up and running for your first lesson. Once connected, your teacher can explain each additional option in the software as needed. To learn more about how the software works (to save time in lessons), the detailed instructions below offer a complete explanation of the entire system, including how to configure the software and how to use all the options.
The Musiclessonz.com lesson software is made up of 2 main components:
- A Lesson Page that opens in your browser (Internet Explorer) at the start of each lesson. This page is titled "Musiclessonz.com Lesson Camera", and is found at http://www.musiclessonz.com/Teachers/yourteacher'sname. This page is made up of two frames. The top frame - the upper half of the lesson page - contains your video and the video of your teacher, along with controls to start, stop, and resize the video images. The top frame also includes links that allow you and your teacher to exchange images, data, URLs, music files, etc. It also contains links to check time zone differences, pay for your lesson, download helpful software, and perform other tasks encountered during lessons.
The bottom half of the lesson window contains the music notation display. You can scroll, resize, save, and print the music directly from the lower frame. This part of the page is displayed in PDF format, and requires either the standard Adobe Acrobat Reader or the free Foxit PDF Reader to be installed on your system before lessons begin. Adobe is installed by default on most computers - if you don't already have it, Foxit is recommended because it's smaller and faster.
- The Lesson Manager is a separate program that runs on your computer. It appears as a small sliver of a window in the upper right hand corner of the screen, entitled "Musiclessonz Control Panel". It remains on top of all other windows throughout the entire lesson, but can be moved and minimized if you need to get it out of the way. It should not be closed at any point during the lesson, however. Closing it will end your lesson. Despite its small size, the control panel is the heart of the lesson software. The control panel manages all of the "behind the scenes" activities that make up your lesson. It controls the video and audio components of the software, and manages all data exchanged with the lesson page, including the connection you maintain with your teacher. The control panel contains several buttons and menus that allow you to control tasks that occur in every lesson - "Call Teacher", "Refresh Music", "End Lesson", etc. When the control panel is closed, the lesson page becomes inactive.
Installation and Preparation for Your First Lesson:
You need to have a working, modern computer with Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer, and all of the lesson software installed and ready to go before your first lesson. At very least, you need to install the Control Panel, and be sure a working PDF reader is installed on your computer.
To take lessons, you'll also need a working headset (or headphones and a microphone), as well as a functioning Internet connection. If your computer is not able to produce sounds, accept microphone input, or get connected to the Internet, please call the manufacturer of your equipment, your Internet service provider, and/or your local computer shop. If you need help setting up your equipment specifically for use with Musiclessonz.com software, please call Musiclessonz.com technical support at least 2 days before your lesson to set a tech support appointment: 215-860-7625.
Finally, you should be reasonably comfortable using your computer on the Internet. If you're not familiar with clicking buttons and menu items in Windows, or if you're not familiar with using Internet Explorer to browse web sites, running the lesson software may be too time consuming to be effective.
To begin installation, Download and Install the Control Panel Software . The software can be downloaded from http://www.musiclessonz.com/Teachers/License_Student.html , or from the "Install" link, directly below your teacher's video image on the lesson page. To download the software, please read the license agreement, and click "I HAVE READ this entire page, and I AGREE." at the bottom of the page.
The download is very small (several seconds with a broadband connection, and less than a minute with 56k dialup). You can run the software directly from the web site, or save it to your hard drive and run it later (it's easier and faster to run it directly from the web site). Running the install package will completely install the software and immediately start your lesson. Downloading the software is only required before you take your first lesson, or if you're using a different computer at a new location. Do not download the installation package again, unless instructed to do so - that will erase your personal settings.
Before your first lesson, click "Settings" -> "Set Teacher Name" - > Select Your Teacher's Name in the Control Panel. Close and restart the software as directed (click the "End Lesson" button in the Control Panel). This only needs to be done the first time you run the software, or if you reinstall the install package (i.e., on a new computer or at a different location).
Other (optional) software to download and install:
- Foxit PDF viewer (862k) - This is only required if you don't already have the standard Adobe Acrobat reader installed (most modern Windows computers come with that software installed by default). Download this if you can't see the music your teacher has uploaded to the lesson page.
- Powerarchiver (zip) software - "Zip" files are the default compression format used to pack and send files to others on the Internet. Windows XP provides a default zip manager that works natively with zip files. Older Windows versions, however, do not come with pre-installed zip software, and in many cases Powerarchiver is much more powerful and easy to use than the built-in Windows XP zip manager (it's similar to Winzip, but free, and more functional).
- Powertab software - This isn't required, but it's a standard format used to print guitar music files. It allows you to view, edit, and print your own copies of the thousands of guitar scores that Musiclessonz.com teachers use.
- Download AP Guitar Tuner - A great free tuner for guitar, bass, and other instruments. Use this tuner before every lesson, so that you don't need to waste time and money having your teacher tune your instrument for you. It does the exact same thing as a dedicated hardware tuner, but it's free and it runs on your computer.
- Other useful software - Links to other pieces of software that will be useful while taking lessons online.
To Prepare for Each Lesson:
Restart your computer well before your lesson time, and be sure that no unnecessary programs are running. Close any extra programs that are not needed for the lesson, including those that begin automatically when your computer boots up. Leaving other programs running can slow your computer and interfere with the lesson software. Be especially sure to close any programs that play music or interface with your web cam. Programs that use your sound card or camera can keep the lesson software from working properly. Such programs may keep you from hearing your instructor - in most cases, only one program can use your sound card at a time. If you're using the sound card to play music, that device will not be available to connect to the audio portion of the lesson software.
Before every lesson check that your headset /microphone is plugged in, and be sure the volume is set to an audible level. Musiclessonz.com is not responsible for lesson time lost spent adjusting your local audio hardware and settings.
Be sure to leave enough time to start and prepare your computer for the lesson. All Musiclessonz.com teachers schedule lessons in half hour increments, and in most cases they can't go beyond the time you've scheduled - other students are waiting at the beginning of each half hour. You won't want to waste your lesson time adjusting settings and preparing your computer - get that done before your appointment.
Run the lesson software at the appointment time: Once you've installed the control panel, simply click Start -> Programs -> Musiclessonz.com to run it (download the install package only once, before your first lesson - it installs itself automatically the first time you run it).
When you run the lesson software, you'll be connected automatically with your teacher's audio stream, and you'll be able to talk with him (it's a lot like talking on the phone, except the audio travels over the Internet). If he doesn't respond to the initial automatic connection (i.e., if you get online before him, or if he's currently in a lesson), click the "CALL TEACHER" button in the control panel to connect with him manually. You can check to see if your teacher is online by starting your teacher's video on the lesson page. To do that, click the checkbox marked "Teacher Video", directly below his image. If he's currently in a lesson, he won't accept your "CALL TEACHER" request. If that happens, simply call back at your lesson time to get connected.
You can check that your clock is set to the same time as your teacher by clicking Options -> Check Atomic Clock in the Control Panel
The Lesson page should open automatically with the Control Panel. If it doesn't, please open your Internet browser program (i.e., Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.), go to http://musiclessonz.com/Teachers, and click your teacher's name.
If you live in the US or Canada, your teacher will arrange to call you by phone at the beginning of your first lesson appointment. He'll walk you through each step of the initial installation and setup, and get your audio/video connected via the lesson software (it typically takes less than a minute to get connected if your computer and audio hardware is set up correctly). If you live outside the country, phone rates are prohibitively expensive, and this service is not freely available.
If you have any problems connecting with your teacher, click the "Text Chat" link on the Lesson Page (it's directly beneath your teacher's video). The text chat link will allow you to temporarily communicate with your teacher via live text, in the event that you can't get your audio connected. Using that text link, he can help troubleshoot any problems you have, or arrange to call you by phone. If you'd like to receive phone technical support outside the US, it's available for a fee based on current phone rates. For additional support, Musiclessonz.com technical support can be contacted by voice mail at 215-860-7625.
AS WITH MOST WINDOWS PROGRAMS, THE EASIEST WAY TO RESOLVE PROBLEMS IS TO JUST CLOSE THE CONTROL PANEL PROGRAM, AND THEN RESTART IT. RESTARTING YOUR COMPUTER is another common solution to typical Windows problems - it's a good idea to reboot your computer before every lesson.
Options and Links on the Lesson Page:
Default PDF Layout - By default, your teacher will print your music to a PDF file, and then upload it to the lesson page. Your music will appear on the bottom half of the lesson screen, directly below the video. You can scroll, resize, save, and print the music directly from this part of the screen. You can also slide the music frame up or down, so that it takes up a larger or smaller percentage of the screen.
Screen Shot - This option is used for any situation when your teacher wants to send you a screen shot of his computer. Some graphic images cannot be printed to PDF. In these cases your teacher may ask you to click on the "Screen Shot" link directly below the teacher video. It's a quick way for him to show you what's on his screen.
Link - Click this link to open up a page that your teacher has sent you - the desired page will open directly in a separate browser window.
Float Video - click this link, directly below the teacher video image, so that it stays on top of any full screen music or image (such as an uploaded screen shot, expanded PDF, or web site). To lock the floated video on top of any other images, click the "Lock Video" option in the Musiclessonz Control Panel. That way, the other images can take up the entire screen, and you can see and move your teacher's image anywhere you want around the screen - it will always stay on top, until you minimize or close it.
Files - click this link to exchange files with you instructor (i.e., to upload and download music, graphics, PDF files, etc.)
2Checkout - Use this link to Purchase Lessons from 2Checkout.com. 2Checkout accepts all major credit cards and personal/business checks online.
Time Zone Calculator - determines the time zones difference between you and your teacher, so that you can easily schedule appointments without confusion.
Powertabs.net, Powertab Search, Guitar Pro, and Tabrobot - Web sites you can go to, to download free music notation for literally millions of pieces of music.
Links - Free software programs and web sites that you'll find useful for online lessons, and for studying music in general (software metronomes, recording programs, music notation programs, etc.)
Home - This brings you to the home page of Musiclessonz.com
Help - opens this help page
Changing The Video Mode:
The Musiclessonz.com has several video mode options to allow the best video connection possible, regardless of network, router, or firewall configuration: Clicking the appropriate link on the lesson page, directly below the video images, will switch between available modes:
- Direct Connect (default - fastest)
- Bypass Firewall - Student
- Bypass Firewall - Teacher
- Bypass Firewall - Student & Teacher
NOTE: In order to use "Bypass Firewall" mode, the user behind the firewall must also click Options -> "Bypass Firewall Video Problems" in the Musiclessonz.com Control Panel. Clicking on the lesson page link alone does not change how the video is transmitted from your computer. You must change modes on both the lesson page and the router.
Bypass Firewall mode is much slower than the default direct connect mode used on each lesson page. Bypass mode is used when either teacher or student has not yet learned how to open default video port 8081 on their particular router equipment or firewall software. In order to achieve best performance, please go to http://portforward.com and read the directions about how to open that port on your specific router/firewall. This step only needs to be done once. After that, you can run every lesson without ever opening the port again (unless you change your computer, location, or network configuration). There are thousands of possible router models from many different hardware manufacturers - portforward.com provides simple and concise instructions, along with screen shots, that explain exactly how to configure your Internet router to work with video communications. This is a necessary step if you intend to stream video from your computer - not only with Musiclessonz.com software, but with any other communications package. The bypass firewall mode provides a simple and immediate solution to this problem, but the video rate is slower.
Buttons in the Musiclessonz.com Control Panel:
Lock Video Button - Used together with the "Float Video" link on the Lesson Page (see above).
Refresh Music Button - Used whenever your teacher sends you a new piece of music to be seen on the bottom half of the lesson page. It can also be used to completely close and restart the lesson page, which will fix most troubleshooting issues that occur with Internet Explorer.
CALL TEACHER Button - At the beginning of every lesson, you should be automatically connected to your teacher's audio, so that you can talk with him. If that doesn't happen (i.e., if you get online before him, or if he's in a lesson), click this button to call him at your lesson time.
Adjust Audio - This opens the Windows Volume controls. Use this to adjust your microphone and headphone volume. To switch between mic and headphone volume(s), click Options -> Properties -> Select either "Playback" (for headphone volume), or "Recording" (for microphone volume). To turn up the volume on your headphones, use the master volume slider and/or the "Wave" device slider in the "Playback" screen. To turn up your mic, use the "Microphone" device in the "Recording" screen.
End Lesson Button - Ends your lesson: closes the audio connection with your teacher, stops your video broadcast, closes the lesson page. Be sure to save/print your lesson music before you end the lesson. If you need to restart it, click Start -> Programs -> Musiclessonz.com. The Musiclessonz.com feedback form is presented at the end of every lesson. Use it to send software bug reports and feedback about the lesson process - these are helpful in improving the software! If you don't want to send feedback, simply close the page.
"Options" Menu in the Musiclessonz.com Control Panel:
Text Chat - A simple text chat, separate from the "Text Chat" link on the lesson page. This one only works when you're connected with your teacher's audio. It has two benefits - first, it automatically pops up any text you type in a window on your teacher's screen, whenever you send text (you don't have to ask him to click the "Text Chat" link). It also allows your teacher to copy any line of text to his clipboard, simply by double clicking on it.
Check Atomic Clock - Allows you to synchronize your clock with your teacher - to the second. Used together with the "Time Zone Calculator" on the lesson page, this feature ensures that there are no scheduling mishaps :)
Open Powertabs.net - Powertabs.net is the most used resource for quality guitar and bass music. This menu item opens the site in a new browser window.
Bypass Firewall Video Problems - Used together with the Video Mode links on the lesson page (see above), this option allows you to bypass Internet video problems that plague common router and firewall configurations. Follow the instructions above to open video port 8081 on your specific router hardware (the piece of equipment your Internet Service Provider gave you that connects your computer(s) to the Internet). If you have problems, use this option to send your video to the lesson page - it's slower, but it works in virtually every situation. Be sure to click the "Bypass Firewall - Student" link on the lesson page to see your video, and notify your teacher to do the same.
"Settings" Menu in the Musiclessonz.com Control Panel:
Set Teacher Name - Click this the first time you use the Musiclessonz.com Control Panel to select your teacher (you'll choose your teacher before you set up an appointment). If you don't do this, you'll only connect to the test server. Be sure to restart the software as directed. Set this up several days before the lesson, so that you have time to call your teacher or Musiclessonz.com tech support if you have any problems.
Audio Connection Settings - this opens the audio connection program ("Picophone 1.64"). Troubleshooting audio connection problems will usually be done by clicking the "PREF" button in the bottom right hand corner of this program.
Video Settings - this opens the video server program ("Webcam 2000"). Troubleshooting video connection problems will usually be done by clicking the "Video" and "Options" menus in this program.
Restart Video Server - if you accidently close the Webcam 2000 program, use this to reopen it.
IP Address Info - provides info useful in troubleshooting connection problems.
Update Username/Password - used when Musiclessonz.com updates lesson passwords for security reasons.
Disable XP Firewall - opens a help screen explaining how to manage the Windows XP firewall.
Set Video Port - (currently unused)
If you have any questions, please contact your teacher directly, or leave a message with Musiclessonz.com technical support at least 2 days before your appointment: 215-860-7625