Optimizing your video lessons for Soundslice

Soundslice is a genuinely new way of presenting music instruction — and we want to make sure your own lessons take full advantage of our tools. On this page, we’ve compiled our advice on how to make sure your Soundslice lessons are as effective as possible.

Important note: this advice is intended primarily for people who are creating new video lessons for Soundslice, as opposed to people who are adding Soundslice to existing videos. For the latter group, much of this advice won’t apply — but keep it in mind if you ever create videos specifically for Soundslice.

The main principle

If you’re creating instructional video for use with Soundslice, our main principle is: assume the student is using the Soundslice interface.

It seems obvious to say this, but it’s by far the most important thing to keep in mind.

Picture a 1950s television news program. The new medium, television, had recently been invented, but people didn’t know how to best use it yet. So they merely did what they’d done for years on the radio: reading from scripts into microphones. Little was done to take advantage of the visuals that television offered.

Though this analogy is a bit grandiose, it’s the same with Soundslice. Don’t be the 1950s TV news anchor; take advantage of your new medium. The rest of this page goes into details.

Assume the student sees notation

The whole purpose of Soundslice is to combine notation with audio/video. As such, your video instruction should assume that the student is viewing notation as she watches the video.

That means you don’t have to spend time on camera reciting the names of the notes or chords you’re playing, unless there’s a good reason to do so. This approach saves you time, makes your videos shorter and, in turn, saves time for your students.

It also means you don’t need to overlay chord names, notation or tablature in your video directly. That just causes redundancy and opens the door for inconsistency/confusion.

Of course, there are plenty of situations where you’ll explicitly want to spend on-camera time discussing notes or chords. Use your judgment, and always remember that your students are seeing synced notation as they watch your video.

Assume the student can slow down

The Soundslice interface lets students slow down audio/video without changing pitch. With that in mind, you don’t need to spend time in your video performing something multiple times, at different speeds, unless there’s a good reason to do it.

Some good reasons to break this rule:

  • If it’s a very fast passage, it still might be too fast when viewed at half speed, so it would make sense to record a slower version.
  • You might want to emphasize certain physical techniques at a slow speed — for instance, picking direction or hand position.
  • Perhaps the technique is different when played at a slow tempo vs. a fast tempo, and you want to show the difference.

As with all these tips, use your judgment. Our goal here is to get you thinking about it.

Assume students have access to the animated fretboard/keyboard

Soundslice gives students an animated piano keyboard and (for scores with tablature) fretboard. With that in mind, don’t add any sort of animated keyboard or fretboard to your video. It’ll just get in the way.

An exception: it can, of course, be great to have an overhead piano keyboard view of a real musician playing, so the student can view fingering, hand position, etc. What we encourage you to avoid is a “fake” version of this — because Soundslice already provides it.

Don’t repeat yourself

Soundslice makes it easy for students to loop sections of your lessons; just drag across the notation and it’s looped. With that in mind, you don’t need to say, or perform, things multiple times — unless there’s a good reason.

Take advantage of multiple recordings

Soundslice lets you associate multiple recordings with a score, and your students can toggle between them. This is a killer feature — take advantage of it!

Some examples of how you might use it:

  • Different camera angles.
  • Different performances of the same piece, perhaps with different tempos or feels.
  • Different multitrack audio mixes, e.g., an isolated rhythm section vs. a “full mix.”
  • An audio-only version vs. a full video, for people on slower connections.

Use bar commentary liberally

Of course, a good music lesson contains a fair bit of talking and explaining. If you’re new to Soundslice, you might wonder: how do I represent non-musical content (talking) in my synced notation?

The answer is with “bar commentary” — our way of letting you mark sections of video as “commentary.” It gets represented by a light gray labeled section of the music notation. For details on how to do it, read our blog post.

Use bar commentary liberally! And don’t be afraid to stack multiple bars together. If your video opens with five minutes’ worth of talking, in which you cover four topics, don’t use a single commentary bar for this — use a separate commentary bar for each topic. (Example.)

The advantage of keeping bar commentary “atomic” is that your students can quickly skip sections (or return to them!), and the text serves as useful navigation through your lesson.

Finally, make sure to use descriptive titles for your bar commentary. Bad examples:

  • “Talking”
  • “Explanation”
  • “...”

Good examples:

  • “Intro to ii-V-I”
  • ”Left-hand fingering”
  • “How to do the trill”

Don’t include wasteful intros

If your video has an animated/graphical intro, we encourage you to remove it. It wastes your students’ time, and it wastes your production time. The Soundslice interface already gives students the title of the lesson.

If you absolutely must include an intro, at least mark it as bar commentary (see above) so that students can quickly skip it.

Notating music that’s “out of time”

Soundslice gives your students the expectation that everything played on the instrument will be notated. Which begs the question: what about notes that are played in passing, out of time, while the instructor is speaking?

We don’t have a clear-cut answer for this. It depends on the situation and how important it is for the student to see the notation. It’s a judgment call and should be decided based on educational merit.

If you do notate such pieces of music, you might find it tricky to quantize “out of time” music into quarter notes, eighth notes, etc. Inner-bar syncpoints are your friend here.

Get help

We (the Soundslice team) are always happy to give feedback on Soundslice course materials. Get in touch any time!