WOTFA Front Porch, Old Time Jam Session every Saturday from 4:00PM-6:00PM PST

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The Washington Old Time Fiddlers is hosting an online jam session using Zoom.  While this is not the best solution, (in person is much better), it is a way for us to get together in a jam session setting.

There is no cost for joining the jam session, but, registration is required.  Use the button above to register for the jam anytime.  You will receive an email with a link to join the meeting.  Registration is limited to 100 people, so register early if you can.

Why do I need to register?

  • Email Notifications
    • When you register you will be sent an email with a link to the meeting on Zoom.
  • Zoom license restrictions
    • Per our license with Zoom, we only have 100 seats available.  Although we have not come close to this number yet, registration will help to avoid any issues if we do exceed this number.
  • Automatic update notices and invites
    • After registering for your first Front Porch Jam, you will not need to register again for next week.  You will automatically receive a notice in your email with the link to the next meeting.  This usually goes out the Friday before.
    • Any changes made to the meeting will be sent out to all registered participants.  So watch your email for any changes leading up to the jam session.

Jamming online can be challenging, but, can also be a lot of fun.  There are several things to consider with online jamming.  One of the major issues is that Zoom is a software that was designed for meetings and a “single speaker” communication. This creates the situation where only one person can be playing at a time, all other participants will need to mute their microphones and play along with the lead player. There can also be issues with sound quality for instruments, and latency over the internet.  Below I have outlined some techniques and settings that can improve the quality of the session and your experience with this type of jam.  Some of these techniques need to be done ahead of time so that there is no interruption during the jam session.  The last thing jammers want to do is spend time fixing technical issues.  If you need assistance with getting set up ahead of time, contact me at bill.crabtree@wotfa.org 

The recommendations provided below are just that “recommendations”.  They are there to enhance your experience in the online jam session.  You are not required to follow them.  Use your own judgement and what works best for you.  The hardware and software recommendations are based on my own experience and what I found works best for me.

Software

  • Download and install the Zoom application.  Although you can use the browser version to connect to the meeting, the Zoom application provides you a better experience and more control over your participation in the meeting.
  • The application will allow participants to join breakout rooms on their own.
  • The browser version will require the host to assign you to a breakout room.
  • You can download the Zoom application by clicking this link:  https://zoom.us/download
  •  Minimize internet traffic on your computer by closing all other programs on your PC.  This will free up the resources available on your computer to focus on one task.

Breakout Rooms

Breakout rooms are separate areas of the meeting that participants can join.  Only participants that are using the Zoom application will be able to join breakout rooms on their own.  Browser users will need to be assigned to a room by the host.

Learn more about breakout rooms here: Participating in Breakout Rooms

There will be breakout rooms for Slow Jam, Intermediate, Advanced, Sing-a-long, Social, and Tech Support.

Hardware considerations.

  • The first and one of the most important things to consider is your connection to the internet.  Make sure you are using a wired connection.  Using Wi-Fi to connect to Zoom can create issues with your audio and video quality.
  • Use an audio interface/external microphone, not your internal sound card. We strongly recommend – although you could start without it – to use an audio interface (a box you plug a microphone/instrument into and connect to your PC e.g. via USB) to enjoy higher quality sound with lower latency. You can also use a USB microphone.
  • A good quality headphone set will also improve your experience and prevent feedback from your microphone to the rest of the participants.  If you are using external speakers, the sound coming from them will be picked up by your microphone and rebroadcasted to the meeting.  This creates a feedback loop that others in the jam session will hear as an echo.  Although Zoom has tools to help prevent this, these issues still arise from the use of external speakers and microphones.
  • Lastly, don’t use your cell phone!  Cell phone bandwidth is not designed to participate in these type of sessions.  You will create problems not only for yourself but, for other participants of the jam session as well.

Online Jam Session Etiquette

With all types of jam sessions there is a prescribed set of rules and etiquette that each participant agrees to adhere to.  These rules of etiquette are there to ensure that each participant enjoys a fun and rewarding jam experience.

  1. Install the Zoom application well ahead of the meeting, at least two or three days.  After installing the Zoom application, take the time to explore and become familiar with the available features of the application.  There are several video tutorials on Zoom to show you how to use the application.  You can find them here: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206618765-Zoom-video-tutorials
  2. When joining the meeting, make sure that your name is shown on your session image. We all want know who is playing that wonderful tune.
  3. Mute your microphone when you are not leading a tune.  All participants will be muted when entering the meeting.  You should know how to mute and unmute yourself without having to search for the setting.
  4. Use the Chat box to communicate thoughts or questions.  You can send a private chat to the host, another participant or the whole group.
  5. Make sure you are in the correct breakout room. If you find that your are in a jam that is above or below your level of playing, send a request, via chat, to the host to place you in a different room.  Breakout rooms will be available for beginner, intermediate and advanced players.  There will also be a breakout room available for technical issues.

I hope to see you on the WOTFA Front Porch Jam Session.

Additional Advice from Josh Larios

Using Zoom For Music

Equipment

  • Your computer’s mic will likely be adequate. You’ll get better sound with nearly any external mic. The Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone is $40 and a great improvement over your built in mic. Sweetwater is a good place to shop.  You can also look at USB Audio Interfaces to plug in any mics you already own.
  • If you can use an Ethernet cable to connect your computer and router, that’s the best. Like this one: Startech N6PATCH10BK Cat6 Snagless Ethernet Cable – 10 foot
  • Wifi will usually be fine and works best the closer you are to it.  Also, make sure other devices in the household are disconnected from wifi for the strongest connection.

New to Zoom?

You must have the app for good music. Get it here: https://zoom.us/download 

You don’t need an account to use the app to Join a Meeting, but the free and $16/mo versions have benefits: https://zoom.us 

Zoom Audio Settings For Music — Essential for Playing Music on Zoom
The default settings for Zoom are optimized for conversation. To play music successfully on Zoom you must use “Original Sound.” This simply means Zoom uses the pure sound from your mic without the processing that makes talking better and music terrible. 

In a Zoom meeting using desktop or laptop, look for Original Sound in the top left corner

  • If it says “Turn on Original Sound” click on that 
  • If it says “Turn off Original Sound” that means Original Sound is “on” and you’re all set.

If there is nothing about Original Sound in the top left corner, do this:

  • Lower left corner of the Zoom screen, click on the up arrow to the right of the mic icon
  • Click on “Audio Settings” at the bottom of the pullup menu
  • Notice the Output and Input Volume sliders on the right; you may want to adjust later.  
    • Make sure the Automatically Adjust Volume box is unchecked.
  • Under Music and Professional Audio 
    • make sure Show in-meeting option to ‘Enable Original Sound is checked
    • Do not check High Fidelity Music Mode unless you fully understand it.
    • Do check the box for Echo Cancellation
    • Do Not check Stereo Audio unless you fully understand it.
  • Click the red “x” in the upper left to close that dialogue box
  • In the main meeting screen, upper left, it will now say something about “Original Sound” so follow the instructions above turn on Original Sound
  • These settings should stay the same next time you use Zoom.

For the mobile app (Tablets/Smartphones):      Read this.