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More from The Bukes on how they run their online ukulele group meeting

It’s been great to hear from Ukulele groups these past weeks on how they’re managing to stay connected during these times. One person who contacted me was Matt Sargent, from the BUKES, who described how their group are using the technology available to maintain a weekly group meeting.

I’ve had another email from Clive King, who very helpfully explains in more detail exactly how they are making Zoom work for them in the BUKES. I hope it can be of use to some of you out there who are still finding it difficult to run your regular meetings online. Here is what Clive had to say:

” What we do at Broadlands Ukes is a fairly simple system on our Zoom meetings. I have it down to a laptop and an iPad only to run the meeting. But I also have a system that we used at our group sessions to project the chords and lyrics onto a screen in the hall. From the days when I used to play lead guitar and sometimes bass in our old studio, I had a program called Showplay that I used on multiple monitors for the band members to do our practice sessions & gigs. It’s a cross between a karaoke player/projector and a gigging system, so it can play a MP3 backing track and scroll the lyrics/chords at the same time.

For our hall sessions, I used a completely muted MP3 and projected the scrolling lyrics/chords with stop/start pedals. But for our Zoom sessions, I have been lucky enough to have a fair amount of recordings of our group playing. This is from previously during practice & at gigs I have had an iPad recording those sessions initially to check our playing speed and how well we were strumming and singing. These I have used for our Zoom meetings.

So to get over the lag time in wi-fi set-ups and other slow connections what I do is run a laptop on a wired connection into the house fibre broadband, but do not use the laptop’s video camera or microphone even though it is running as host of the meeting – the laptop is used only for sharing the song-sheets.

I use a iPad on a separate cellular network to connect to the meeting for video and microphone for chatting and monitoring the meeting, as well as how the song-sheets are being streamed. When we are ready to play a song, I go to the laptop and mute everyone (not allowing them to unmute), then share the Showplay window with shared audio (note: not the whole laptop screen). On Showplay, when I select the song the MP3 of us all playing previously in the hall is streamed and the lyrics/chords are scrolled passed at the same time. So we all end up playing at home with what seems like everyone else (as you can still see some people playing – depending on your system).

It seems to go very well even though some of us finish before others, but no-one hears this as they only hear the stream recording when it gets to their system. And so they play along it time to the recording. I leave a small delay afterwards before I close the shared screen and un-mute everyone to ensure everyone has finished even if they are one very slow connections.

Some important settings is firstly to have “Turn on Original Sound” on the host system streaming the recordings (I don’t think you have this setting on iPads and Phones – not sure!)…   when sharing the song sheet/recording – select “share computer sound” and “optimize screen sharing for video clip”…  and when muting everyone – un-select “Allow participants to un-mute themselves”. I find it is also important not to do anything on the laptop while the song is streaming, as it can sometimes interrupt the music or the song-sheet.

Thank you so much to Clive from The BUKES for taking the time to provide such a thorough guide on how Ukulele Groups can use video chat effectively.

If anyone has any other advice, or would like to tell me about their Ukulele Group, please either comment on this post or send an email to: matt@noahukuleles.com

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