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Troubleshooting the NET

Internet Speed Test

I was working remotely before it became a thing. My music school is in midtown Toronto, but eight years ago, I moved out to the countryside about 45 mins southwest of the city. I wasn’t teaching online, but I was managing a large school from a distance and interviewing prospective teachers on Skype. This past year, however, I have learned so many new and valuable lessons about technology. Working with a team of developers who seem to have their own language; they’ve been incredibly patient with me while I learn their “code”.

The Internet and Internet speed is always a hot topic in our social media groups and I’ve noticed that when a teacher asks a question about the Internet, the tech people have a tendency to start answering with complicated language. It can get overwhelming!

Some technical things about the Internet speed, explained for the complete layperson:

  • If your device is slow, try a speedtest. I like to use www.speedtest.net or www.testmy.net. It will ping your computer (lower ping number is better!) and it will give you a readout of your upload and download speeds in Mbps. Just press a button and it’s all automatic.
  • So what does download and upload speed mean again? Download speed is the rate you receive information over the Internet into your computer or device, like when you download a song from iTunes, and upload speed is the rate information leaves your computer, like when you upload a photo to Instagram.
  • And what does mbps mean? The acronym Mbps stands for megabits per second. It is a measure of Internet bandwidth.
  • And what’s bandwidth again? In simple terms, bandwidth is the maximum speed at which you can upload or download data from the Internet onto your computer or mobile device.


For example, I just did a Speedtest on my computer and my download speed was 331 mbps, and my upload was 221 mbps. This is VERY fast, even though my kids are watching Netflix in the next room, which will eat up some of the bandwidth. For perspective, at just 25 mbps, you could purchase and download a full Hollywood film to your computer in only five or 10 minutes. So my Internet is super fast.

Tips for your online lesson setup: You’ve probably heard other platforms tell you to wire in to your ethernet. That definitely will help, but there are many ways to work off of wifi successfully without the mess of wires.

  1. Get the best Internet package you can and ask your students to do the same.
  2. Ask people in your home to stay off streaming services or sites that use a lot of bandwidth while you are teaching lessons.
  3. Accept that there will be some times during the day when the Internet slows or gets disrupted. (For me, this always happens at 5:00 p.m. on Mondays. Why 5:00? My guess is that everyone in the area is turning their Netflix on!)
  4. Put your router in the centre of the house and then put some wifi pods in a chain sequence throughout your house. This is called mesh wifi and it’s incredible! You don’t need many and can usually get them from Amazon for about $50.
  5. Check if you need to upgrade your router. Call your Internet provider and they will tell you if there is an upgrade available.
  6. There are other factors that can interfere with wifi: microwaves, vacuums, hairdryers, someone standing in a doorway, Jupiter is obscuring Pluto, Elon Musk is launching rockets again, all kinds of stuff. This is why I love mesh wifi! It spreads the signal out evenly and hey, nobody wants a giant cable going through their living room.

 

The great thing about wifi is that you become more movable and not locked to a position. I love moving the iPad around when I teach, putting it in a gooseneck stand or holding it in my hands over the piano. I have my students move their iPads around throughout the lesson all the time, they put it on the music stand or they have it on an actual iPad stand or just on a pile of books beside their piano. It’s really a great way to enjoy the liberation of not being wired in all the time AND you skip all that extra latency by not having to have additional cameras.

I hope this has helped you to understand Internet speeds a little bit better! (FYI, we don’t provide network support at Musicology. If you need help diagnosing Internet issues, try a service like Geeksquad.)

Our promo code RISEUP is available for 30 more days. This will give you not only your 30 day FREE trial but also 50% off your second month. Come and try us out and see for yourself how clear the audio and video are and all of the interactive features.

Follow our Facebook group Team Musicology where we will be sharing videos of playing duets on various instruments from various locations.

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