The following tips are based on our experience with children and music, our experience as parents with kids & screens, and our brief experience (since April 2020) making music in Zoom with our teachers and participating in our own family’s activities in the platform. We know that many of you are Zoom experts. If you have something to add to this list for our community, please let us know.
- The first time you login to Zoom, leave yourself a little extra time. Click on your provided Zoom link, or go to https://zoom.us/, and click on “Join A Meeting.” The app will automatically download, and you’ll be asked for your meeting ID.
- The main controls you’ll want to understand in Zoom are for changing the view: For most of the class time, “Speaker View” will give you a view of your teacher with the other participants off to the side; “Gallery View” will give you a grid of all the participants.
- Use “Pin Video,” which you’ll find by clicking on the three dots on anyone’s picture, to lock one participant as your main view.
- Optional (but appreciated): When you join a class, click on your own window in Zoom and choose the option to “rename” yourself. Type in your child(ren)’s first name(s).
- Know that for most of your online class, all participants mics will be muted, except for the teacher’s, simply because Zoom does not deal well with overlapping sound. While this creates some challenges, it also means that you will always be able to hear your teacher. (If your dog is barking, or your child wants to play “the big drum” during the whole class, no one will object.) Also know that we have taken on as a creative challenge the trick of interacting with you using visual cues.
Modifications for Babies and Young Children
- If possible, consider mirroring your device to a TV. This will give your family better audio, a larger view of the teacher and other families, and help to remove the distraction of your keyboard for toddlers.
- If you have a non-mobile baby, consider laying him or her down facing you, and using the audio only, or glancing at the screen yourself to inspire your musical play. (This can be done in a Zoom class and/or using one of the recorded classes.)
- If there are features of Zoom that feel too distracting for your child, try participating along together with one of the recorded classes. Try a live class again when you’re ready.
- Just as you would in an in-person class, take breaks if your child needs them for any reason. You should always feel free to modify the activities for yourself and your child as needed.
- Remember that class time is just one way to engage with the music. Listen to the tracks, sing a cappella to your child, learn some of the movement activities, and check out the web materials for tips and ideas.
Instruments, Props & Creating Your Space
- We will be using what you have on hand to make music. If you like, start a box of PLAY music stuff to bring to class. Include in it any percussion instruments you like (real or improvised), something that rattles (a pair of shakers or maracas is handy), a couple of scarves or pieces of colorful fabric, and a favorite stuffed animal. We will be using some other common items, which we’ll either email you about or have you grab during class.
- We will be up and moving during parts of the class. As you always would, check your space for slipping and tripping hazards and sharp corners, and try to give yourselves plenty of room to move.