Setting Up Piano Accompaniment Tracks for Online Events

Online lessons and performances mean that teachers and students often need to use recorded piano tracks in place of a live pianist. Here we describe suggested piano track setups and sources.
In all cases, the piano track needs to be loud enough to be easily heard by the student while they are playing.
We strongly recommend that piano track files be stored locally (i.e. be downloaded) onto the playback device. Files that are being streamed during your online performance are likely having a negative impact on your Zoom bandwidth. For example, we advise against performing alongside an accompaniment video playing directly from the YouTube website.

Suggested setups for playing along with a piano accompaniment track:

Setup #1: Stereo system playing at approximately equal volume to the student.

  • Some comparable setups that we've seen include track playback on:
    • loud Bluetooth speakers
    • TVs
    • digital pianos
  • A low-tech setup that could be tried in an "emergency" situation is placing a cellphone with the piano track into a bowl or other curved object. The shape of the dish acts as an amplifier.

Setup #2: Using an audio splitter combined with headphones and other speakers.

  • Audio splitters (such as this splitter) allow for multiple speakers/headsets/output devices to be connected to a single playback source.
  • The advantage of this is that the student is able to hear the piano track well, even when loud playback speakers aren't available. An alternative speaker can then be placed close to the Zoom microphone to broadcast the piano track to the audience.
  • We suggest that the performer only wear headphones on one ear. This lets the performer still hear the full resonance of their instrument with the other ear, including cues within shifts.
  • Remember to be mindful of cable length requirements for your specific setup.

Suggested sources of piano accompaniment tracks:

  • (under construction)

If you have questions, please contact your studio teacher.
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