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Zoom for Students and Families

Zoom is the standard for meeting remotely at JHU, and by extension at both the Peabody Conservatory and Preparatory. Your instructor may conduct online 1-1 lessons, meetings, office hours, or classes using Zoom. Your faculty should let you know when those sessions will be, and the link to the sessions will be shared with you.

Using Zoom for the First Time

The first time you open a Zoom meeting link on your device, you will be prompted to download the Zoom client. The Zoom app is available for Mac, PC, iOS, and Android, and works quite well across all of these platforms.

After this first-use download and installation of Zoom, any time you open a Zoom meeting link from your instructor the meeting room should open automatically.

Conservatory students automatically receive a Licensed (Pro) account through central JHU IT by visiting https://jhubluejays.zoom.us.

For Preparatory parents and students, this useful set of tips (or this screenshot of those same tips) will help you and your child navigate online learning for the first time, and give you some tips to improve your experience in general. Please login to your Zoom clients via individual login.  A Basic, free account will allow you to participant fully in your lessons and classes.

Peabody’s Guide to Using Zoom in “Music Mode”

By default, Zoom is optimized for human speech and the associated frequency range and volume levels. Peabody’s Guide to Using Zoom in “Music Mode” outlines the settings you can change to tip the scales towards optimizing for the dynamic range of music. The PDF guide contains a Quick Start Guide, along with detailed instructions and screenshots to help you along the way.

Two important notes:

  • Faculty and students need to set many of these settings on their respective machines, and the guide is written for all. 
  • As of Friday, April 10, “Preserve Original Audio” is now also available on iOS and Android devices in your device settings.
  • These settings will only help to preserve the quality of the audio that is being captured. An external microphone and headphones or speakers for each participant will greatly improve the sound quality that is able to be transmitted and received.

For an additional resource, you can watch a tutorial for students on preserving original audio on your Mac/PC from The Royal Academy of Music.

More Tips for Using Zoom for 1-1 Lessons

  • Microphone and/or Headset Use: If possible, use headphones and/or an external microphone connected to your device.
    • An example of an external microphone for an iPad would be something with a Lightning connector (such as the Zoom iQ7, iQ6, or Rode “VideoMic Me-L”). In addition, many USB-A microphones will work in conjunction with a Lightning-to-USB camera adapter. For newer iPads or Android devices, USB-C microphones should work well also.
    • Laptop or Desktop computers can use any USB devices. We would suggest:
      • A dedicated USB Microphone
      • Connecting a Zoom recorder or camera via USB
      • External USB webcams from Logitech, Microsoft, or many others.
    • For specific technology that Peabody recommends, please visit the Student Technology Requirements and Recommendations page.
    • When possible, turn off Auto-volume control settings for microphones. This can be found in your Zoom audio settings on PC or Mac, and is only possible for iPad when using an external microphone. See Peabody’s Guide to Using Zoom in “Music Mode” for more details.
  • Microphone Placement: Try to place your microphone (or the device itself, if using the internal microphone) approximately 5-7 feet from the performer. Placing the microphone too close can overload the microphone and too far away can sound washed out. The louder the instrument, the farther away you need to be. This is really just trial and error – experiment what works for your specific equipment and environment.
  • Accompaniment: Students should have a device separate from the device making the Zoom call to play back any accompaniment. Attempting to use the same device will create unpredictable results.

For more resources and links related to using Zoom in general, please see the JHU Zoom Support resource: https://uis.jhu.edu/zoom/students/

IT@Peabody is always available to help. Contact IT@Peabody via https://servicedesk.peabody.jhu.edu.

Internet Connection Speeds and Zoom

Zoom’s website states that 1.8 Mbps is sufficient to join a Zoom call successfully. Community experience, and articles like this one, dictates that the bare minimum is 3 Mbps. These speeds would provide for basic participation, and perhaps only one-way video. As long as a student has at least mid-range DSL or faster internet, Zoom should work well.

Some general guidelines:

  • One-way vs Two-way Video: If a student joins a Zoom call and is having issues such as interrupted audio and video, the student should turn off their video to see if that improves the call. This will reserve the available bandwidth for video, audio, and/or screen-sharing from the teacher. For a lesson, the teacher could turn off video and have just the student leave video on.
  • Zoom Recording: Faculty hosts have the option to record any Zoom meeting to the cloud and provide the URL afterwards to students. These recordings can be viewed even via slower internet connections.
  • Call-in Phone Numbers: All scheduled Zoom calls offer the option to call in using a phone number, and international toll-free numbers are provided. This may not be ideal, but at least allows for the student to join the call via phone, skipping the internet altogether.

Students with concerns should notify their faculty. A variety of alternative resources may be provided for download via OneDrive (for all students) or Blackboard (for Conservatory students). In conjunction with audio calls, alternative learning methods could be applied until in-person teaching is once again available. The faculty at Peabody have access to resources and staff who can help craft experiences that will work for each student and their available technology.

Zoom FAQ

Here are the most frequent questions we get about Zoom:

  • What’s the easiest way to get started? To join your classes, you don’t need an account; you just need a link from your teacher. If you want to create your own meetings using a free unrestricted Zoom account, and you have a JHED, go to https://jhubluejays.zoom.us, log in using your JHED ID, and then create an instant or scheduled meeting. Once you share the link, everyone can use that link to join your session. 
  • Why can I hear my voice echoing? This occurs when someone else’s microphone is picking up the sound from their speakers. All participants should try to keep their microphones muted unless they are speaking. It also usually helps if all attendees use headphones instead of speakers.
  • How do I fix the sound quality when I use Zoom for playing music? If you are playing an audio recording, you want to ensure you are sending the original recording rather than your microphone picking up the music from your speakers. To do this, follow the instructions to share computer sound on Zoom. (Note: the first time you do this, you may have to install an extra plugin and restart your Zoom client. Please test in advance of class so you are ready!) If you plan to play an instrument live in class, take a look at Peabody’s Guide to Using Zoom in “Music Mode”
  • How do I record my class?  For class sessions and 1-1 lessons, it is at your teacher’s discretion whether record the session and provide a link afterwards. If you need to record a Zoom session that you schedule, follow the instructions for starting a cloud recording – this will save the file to the cloud and notify you via email when a link is ready to share or view the recording later. Cloud recordings offer automatic interactive captioning and transcription, multiple viewing options, and will remain in your online Zoom account for 180 days. If you need the recording only for your own reference and don’t need the features above, follow the instructions for starting a local recording – this will save the file to your computer (or you can save to the cloud and download the recording to your computer later). Note that if you try to start a local recording in someone else’s meeting, you may be blocked, and at the very least the host will be notified and need to approve.
  • Why is Zoom [not doing the thing I was told it would do]? Zoom releases frequent software updates. If you have been told by your instructor to do something in Zoom and you are not able to find the appropriate setting, button, etc. to which they are referring, check for Zoom updates. Updating your app often will solve discrepancies between what you expect to see and what you actually see.
  • How can I learn more? For additional help using Zoom, please visit the Zoom support page at http://support.zoom.us/ or contact IT@Peabody via https://servicedesk.peabody.jhu.edu.