What is Zoom? Zoom is an application that allows a group of people (in our case, choir members) to talk to each other over the internet (using audio, and also video if they wish.) They do so by joining an online meeting (in our case, our choir rehearsal) hosted by one of the group (in our case, our music director.) It's very similar to applications such as Skype and Facetime, if you have used those. Messaging apps such as Whatsapp & Facebook Messenger have this functionality too. Zoom just seems to have cornered the market during this worldwide lockdown.
How do I join the choir's Zoom rehearsal? Find the latest email about Zoom from our chairman, and either
Click on the zoom link in that email (this should take you straight into the meeting)
Or, if that doesn't work, or you wan't to open zoom on a different computer/tablet/phone, then open up a browser (chrome, safari, internet explorer etc.) and type in address zoom.us/join. Then enter the 11-digit meeting ID in the chairman's email, and the password when asked for it.
You should agree to any questions from Zoom (unless you have reason to do otherwise!) e.g. do you want to start the Zoom application? Do you want to use internet audio? Do you want to start video?
This should take you into the main Zoom screen.
Note: if this is the first time you've used zoom, you will be asked to download the zoom application first (see more details below.) Also, from time to time, you may be asked to upgrade the zoom application, which again you should.
Do I need to register for a Zoom account? No. You only need to do that if you want to host your own meeting. For our choir practices, our MD is the host. So you can join his meeting without needing to signup for an account.
Do I need to pay anything? No. It's free. If you are asked to pay, or for any credit card details, don't!
What equipment do I need? You'll need
a computer (e.g. PC/Laptop/Mac), a tablet (e.g. iPhone or similar) or a smartphone (e.g. iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, android phone or similar)
an internet connection (Zoom connects over the internet)
loudspeakers (so you can hear the rehearsal!) These are built into almost all devices, though with some computers you may need separate speakers.
The following are also useful but not essential:
a microphone (so others can hear you e.g. to ask questions) Again, these are built into most devices, though some computers may need a separate microphone.
a webcam (so others can see you, to give a more social feel to the meeting.) Again these are built into most devices (including laptops) except for some computers.
How do I see other people? There are two different views in Zoom:
"Active Speaker" shows just the person who is currently speaking. This is the default when you first join the meeting.
"Gallery View" shows a number of people on the call (depending on the size of your screen). You can scroll across and back to see other people by using the arrow on a computer, or your finger on a tablet.
To switch between these views on a computer, click on the Gallery/Speaker view button top right. On a tablet, tap the screen, and there is a round button on the left hand edge which says Active Speaker / Gallery View.
How do I know if I'm muted? There are three ways:
Look at the mute button, which is a picture of a microphone. (On a computer this is bottom left. On a tablet/phone you have to tap the screen and it's at the top.) If the microphone has a red line through it, you're muted.
In gallery view (see below) your name will have a red microphone with a line through it, if you are muted.
Shout "HELLO, IT'S ERIC, CAN ANYONE HEAR ME?". If you don't get a chorus of responses, it's likely you're muted.
How do I mute/unmute myself? To switch back and forth between muted & unmuted...
On a computer, click on the microphone button in the bottom left?
On a tablet, tap the screen, then tap on the microphone button at the top?
How can I unmute myself temporarily, for a witty interjection or pertinent comment?
On a computer, hold down the space bar for as long as you wish to talk.
There's no equivalent on a tablet, so just unmute and then mute yourself as described previously.
Why does it say "Please wait for the host to start this meeting"? This just means the meeting hasn't started yet. When it does, you'll be let in!
What if I can't get it working? With so many different devices and potential issues, it's impossible to answer this in a succinct way. But here are some suggestions:
If you are used to working with your computer / tablet / smartphone, go to Google and search for details of your exact problem (for example: Can't hear anyone when using Zoom on iPad). You could also search for 'troubleshoot Zoom' as there are lots of such pages on the internet.
If you're not so confident, then try to get help from a friend or relation who is (subject to social distancing rules of course). A few minutes on the phone may be enough to diagnose the issue.
If you still have no luck, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, with as much details about your setup and the nature of the problem, and we'll try to make some suggestions.
It's too quiet! How can I turn up the volume? If you are using a computer, here are a few things to try:
Check that the Zoom volume is turned up. When in the meeting, click on the little ^ arrow next to the microphone in the bottom left, then choose Audio Settings, and make sure the speaker volume is up.
Check that your computer volume is turned up. Unfortunately there are lots of different ways to do this, depending on what system and version you have - for example, there may be a little loudspeaker symbol on the bottom right of your screen. If you're not sure, ask a helpful friend or family member.
If your sound is playing through separate loudspeakers, make sure that they are turned up (there's usually a knob somewhere on one of the speakers.)
If your sound is playing through a screen / monitor, make sure its sound is turned up (there are usually buttons on the front/side that do that.)
If you're using a tablet (iPad or similar) the volume controls are on the side, and if they are turned up full, that's probably as loud as it's going to get!