Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Play it again Sam

Back in about 1994 I was at a conference where they demonstrated a piano that could be played over the net. The piano was in the room with us and was then "played" by a pianist in another town using the net connection. The idea was to demonstrate the possibilities of remote music teaching and we were all suitably impressed. However I never heard any more of remote piano playing. Music was often cited as one of the subject areas (like science and languages) that just wouldn't work as distance learning but is now flourishing. My university has for several years now offered highly popular online courses in piano and guitar using video lessons and with students sending in own recorded sessions for comment.

piano by tamaki, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  tamaki 

Today I read an article in the New York Times, With Enough Bandwidth, Many Join the Band, about the popularity of music lessons via Skype. The photo in the article shows a guy practising the bagpipes in front of a laptop, connected to his teacher (watch a video of a virtual bagpipe lesson).

"Students who used to limit the pool of potential teachers to those within a 20-mile radius from their homes now take lessons from teachers — some with world-class credentials — on other coasts or continents. The list of benefits is long: Players of niche instruments now have more access to teachers. Parents can simply send their child down the hall for lessons rather than driving them. And teachers now have a new way to build their business."

The same applies to all sorts of private tutoring. It seems that Skype and other e-meeting tools are more exploited within informal learning than in the formal system. Whilst many schools and colleges are only just starting with such online tutoring it's flourishing privately. I admit that music lessons on Skype are not as good as face-to-face; the sound quality and synchronisation are never perfect. But compared to no lessons at all they offer enormous opportunities to students and teachers alike.

No comments:

Post a Comment