Video Technology Helps Nebraskan Music Students

Reggi Hopkins’ New Blog Post

Reggi HopkinsMusic should be accessible to all students.  However, for those living in extremely rural areas, it can be very difficult to find the quality of teaching needed to guide them in learning an instrument, not to mention a wide variety of instruments that students may be playing.   Areas of Nebraska have recognized this problem and have come up with a solution to begin to help these students by video conferencing their students with specialized music instructors at the Manhattan School of Music in New York.

In a small town called Neligh, the school band was able to have one of their students qualify to make the all-state band, something that has not happened in 12 years.  Along with school band practice, this gifted young clarinet player took weekly 50-minute video sessions with an instructor at the Manhattan School, enabling her to take her abilities to the next level and succeed in her goals.

At another Nebraska school, Kearney High School, eleven of the students in the band made the all-state band, a whopping double the number of students as in previous years.  The band teachers say they owe it to the specialized, direct instruction.

The video technology that is connecting these students and instructors is called Polycom.  These machines are made for videoconferencing and have an omnidirectional microphone built in, which helps for eliminating background noise and allowing the focus to be completely on the music instruction, with little interruption.  The sound is crucial because of the nature of the lesson- focusing on fine-tuning and perfecting musical sound and ability.  Other video-chat programs cannot offer this same quality.  Similarly, an HD camera allows instructors to zoom in, so they can better instruct students on their physical technique with an instrument.

The dean of distance learning and recording arts at the Manhattan School of music said it best, “We’re able to leverage 21st century technology to keep music alive.  This is a phenomenal way to do it, and the folks in Nebraska get it.”  Thanks to this technology and the coast-to-coast camaraderie, students are able to better themselves at their instrument and become the musician they had always dreamed of being.

via Reggi Hopkins Tech Page


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