Skype: a Student’s Best Friend, or a Singer’s Worst Nightmare



One of the most innovative tools in today’s music training culture is streaming internet video conferencing. By using high quality cameras, fast connections and top quality microphone technology, students anywhere in the world have access to the top trainers in their respective fields. At Brett Manning Studios, we’ve outfitted multiple high-speed webcam vocal studios with the latest technology to benefit our students wherever they reside.


However, the greatest technology can also become the greatest hindrance to a student’s success unless a few preparatory measures are taken to ensure the best lesson experience. Having taught at the studio for a number of years, I can affirm that we are constantly upgrading to the latest technology in order to provide the most transparent learning environment. Among the latest upgrades is our 50mb+ enterprise internet connection which provides plenty of bandwidth for our demanding new high definition widescreen cameras.


Though we’ve done everything possible to ensure the highest quality lesson for you, the Skype experience is limited only by its weakest link. In other words, if you book a singing lesson and have an outdated webcam and are using a version of Skype which you installed last year, you might need to do some things in order to prepare for your ultimate internet singing lesson.


1.)Install (and update) the latest version of Skype. Whether Mac or PC, Skype will need to be updated almost weekly. The updates not only provide newer features and smoother handling of internet traffic, they are almost always necessary for the best communication. I have noticed that many lessons with very poor connections can be fixed immediately after the student upgrades to the latest version of Skype. Make sure to do this prior to the lesson so we don’t have to wait on our computers to update any software during the lesson.


2.)Buy a high quality 720p+ camera. Anything that supports high definition video quality will definitely be better than the stock camera included in your laptop or desktop (sorry iMac owners… the latest Logitech cameras absolutely obliterate your built in camera). The latest cameras also will tend to include very accurate microphones specifically designed to pick up human speech. The highest quality cameras like the top rated Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910 also feature Right Sound™ technology with dual stereo microphones to deliver the most accurate representation of your voice across the world to your humble vocal coach.


3.)Avoid using wireless internet connections. This may be difficult for many people but many intermittent connection issues can be traced back to spotty wireless signals from wireless routers and bridges that may not be set up to handle the demands of streaming internet. If it’s possible to connect your computer (even if it’s a laptop) directly to an internet router or hub, it is in your best interest to do so. Wireless signals are simply not as dependable as straight through cat5e or cat6 network cable directly connected to the internet. You want to provide the strongest link so do your best to provide a wired connection whenever available.


4.)Set up your preferred Skype recording software. One of the best resources you will have at the end of your lesson is a clear audio recording of the lesson itself. Most of the learning will occur as you listen back to your struggles from a fresh perspective. You might also hear how your mix sounds to other people for the first time. We recommend all students record their own Skype session using special recording software. Unfortunately, Skype doesn’t have a recording feature built in to the program so you will need to install additional third party software to accomplish this task. The best thing about recording the audio on your end is that the quality of your voice will be undistorted when you play back the recording.

For Mac users we recommend Call Recorder for Skype. http://www.ecamm.com/mac/callrecorder/


For PC users we recommend Pamela Skype recorder. http://www.pamela.biz/en/

5.)Test, test, test that Skype connection. Skype has a very useful feature called the “Skype Test Call”. When you first log into Skype, the only contact on your address book should be a person called “Skype Test Call.” You can call this contact and perform a test of your audio and video setup. If you test your capabilities before your lesson, you can iron out any difficulties well before you are expected to start your Nays or Mums. You also want to test out the recording capability during the test call so you can verify your valuable lesson will be captured on your hard drive for future use.


If you follow these simple guidelines, I’m sure we can spend much more time singing and much less time trying to sort through technical issues when having your voice lesson.

-By Jesse Nemitz


To book a Skype, phone or one-on-one vocal lesson with Jesse Nemitz or ANY Brett Manning Associate Vocal Coach, please email Keith at [email protected] or call 888-269-7758