Rock Out Loud Live
Ian B., California
Just in case anyone else has not heard about this alternative to Zoom, I’m posting it here. Mike Grande, owner of RockOutLoud music school in NY, who just happens to also be a master coder/programmer, has created what looks to be one of the first video-conference apps created for music lessons! I’m testing it out myself and will report more later. If interested, check it out:
I learned a lot more about what the actual capabilities of the app are by listening to Tim Topham’s interview with Mike Grande. One key distinguishing factor though is that the developer is actually taking requests and questions from users and quickly implementing those changes into the app.
I had my demo session with dev and got to ask my bazillion questions.
- ability to switch cameras for multi-camera setup (i.e. overhead keyboard)
- MUCH lower latency
- audio quality is prioritized when connection bandwidth is suffering (so video may lag some or glitch, but the audio is preserved). Zoom and others does exact opposite currently
- There is a waiting room feature
- There is a chat feature
- For students, there is both an IOS and Google Play/Android app (teachers will need browser based PC access via laptop — I didn’t mean Windows only. It’s Mac compatible.)
- Password protection and screen sharing
- Ability to log in as a “participant” from second device (very similar to how many are using Zoom currently to show overhead keyboard view). However, multiple camera views on a SINGLE screen is coming in later update.
- Share PDFs or screen WITHOUT losing view of students, and without students losing view of you
- Peer-to-peer connectivity which allows greater security, faster and more stable connection. This is similar to the way PianoAtHome works (from what I understand).
- Annotation. This is coming in a future version, and the reason it is not already available is that ROL is developing a BETTER WAY to do it. They are trying to allow layered annotation directly on screen rather than reverting to the “screen-share” presentation-style that most video-conferencing and webinar platforms use.
- Screen Sharing. Yes, despite all attempts to alter and divulge from the normal presentation-style setup of most video conferencing and webinar software, ROLL actually does let you share your screen 🙂
- Recording. Also coming in a future version, but not as prioritized as annotation. Mike explained that he is wanting the live lesson experience to be retained by this platform and so the recording feature has not been on his radar until recently as more teachers are requesting it.
- Full Duplex Audio
- I want to say more about this because most people don’t understand what it is and why this feature alone is probably a game-changer. On my demo call the other day, one thing that I noticed right away was that, in addition to the actual audio frequency quality being “better” (less compressed, which is somewhat dependent on your bandwidth and audio setup), I didn’t experience that distracting and ridiculous “cut out” that seems to happen all the time on Zoom whenever people accidentally talk over each other or whenever there is more than one sound source.
- Mike explained that this is because while most video-conferencing software is technically “full duplex audio” (ability to speak and hear audio both ways simultaneously), most platforms do not actually operate that way UNLESS you tweak the echo cancellation settings or have both parties wearing headphones. On my call with Mike, I myself was wearing headphones, but Mike wasn’t, and neither were the other two participants in the meeting. I never heard the audio “duck” or cut out even once. And there were multiple times that various people talked over each other or interrupted. Until Mike pointed this out, I didn’t even really know how to explain it but I had been feeling a general sense of ease and calm that I rarely experience on Zoom because I usually have to be careful what I say and, more importantly, WHEN I say it in order to avoid the “cut out”. Our conversations happened so much more naturally. If I were playing the piano or listening to students playing the piano, this feature would become even MORE important. But conversation in general moves more quickly and feels more natural when “full duplex audio” works as it should. This feature may contribute GREATLY to both teachers and students feeling less “Zoom fatigue” and will also speed up most exchanges as the conversation flows more smoothly.
- An Extensive Library of Sheet Music, Fully Licensed
- When I asked Mike about copyright/licensing and the sources for that sheet music library that is included with the paid versions, he revealed something that really got me excited – he’s in talks with Hal Leonard about acquiring a license for their entire sheet music library! So, for those teachers who have been sending your students to Amazon or SheetMusic. com to purchase their sheet music (and then waiting until they ACTUALLY purchase it), ROL is going to streamline this entire process. Copyright and licensing is a big topic and I’m sure there will be more discussion about this. But for me, I can see a HUGE value in this feature and it’s companion – the ability to upload my own library of PDF worksheets and sheet music. Given that ROLL is already crossing into this territory, I think it’s highly likely that we will see licensing agreements with other publishers and content providers in the future if the partnership with Hal Leonard is successful.
Mark M., New York
Do you know if it uses the JACK audio protocol mentioned in the video you recently shared?
Ian B., California
It uses it’s own custom audio codec. I admit I don’t know enough about Jack Audio to give you a yea or nea on compatibility, but from the outset, it sounds like you won’t need it 🙌👍👍
Megan F., Nebraska
Is it compatible with group lessons?
Ian B., California
YES. It is 🙂
Emily C., California
Since you said it’s an app, I assume students would also need to download it themselves and create an account?😳
Ian B., California
Student side can be accessed via browser (Chrome) on computers or via a dedicated IOS or Android (Google Play) app for mobile devices. There is no account creation required.
Original discussion started July 19, 2020