Friday, March 15, 2013

Lessons On Line

Its time has come, its emergence into the music education world is inevitable, we have both the audio and video technology now to assure that it can work. I have enjoyed exploring this new teaching mode possibility and am struck by its efficiency and the potential that it opens for the future.
Getting started is easy; in most of the world today dependable high-speed internet and social networks such as Skype are available. Of course, in order to take advantage of this gift of our time, we need a computer; plus a microphone and a camera, which fortunately have become standard. Occasionally, there are internet problems but, as time passes, they’re increasingly infrequent.
The video aspect is usually not a problem; sometimes I‘ve encountered video problems due to severe weather conditions, either at the location of the student or the teacher, however, when the weather improves the problems stop.

Most microphones, and sound systems in computers today are good; of course, we can improve the audio quality by investing in high quality microphones, speakers and earphones. This is a decision that needs to be made by each teacher and each student as required by the sound system of his or her personal computer and the limitations of on-line sound quality.
Most teachers at some point during a lesson like to interact with a student; this would include, singing, playing, or keeping time, (clapping for example). The on-line problem is; the sound for the listener will always arrive late to the sound of the speaker (player). For example, if the teacher counts to four, to establish a tempo for the student to play on the following first beat, the teacher will hear the note arrive after the first beat. The student will begin in the tempo of the teacher’s count but the teacher will hear it late; this makes playing together almost impossible. If the teacher makes an adjustment to be together with the student, then the student has to make another adjustment. In other words, it just doesn’t work!
Dynamics are a major part of music; unfortunately, the audio system of the internet has not yet taken that into consideration. The difference between a fortissimo and a pianissimo over the internet is very small; we hear a difference in tone quality because a fortissimo has a greater number of harmonics than a pianissimo, but the on-line dynamic is almost the same.
These are small and temporary problems, which certainly will be resolved as the technology evolves. There is absolutely no question that this new mode of music education will become increasingly more efficient and available. Of course, it’s been available in general education for the last decade but the study of mathematics, medicine, language etc., rarely require the high quality digital sound necessary for music.

Payment for e-lessons is only another small problem; PayPal seems to be the obvious solution.

If you are interested to take a free trial e-lesson please contact me, I would like to hear from you.

Tokyo, July 9, 2009
Revised March 15. 2013, Tokyo