As a part-time music education graduate course facilitator for Boston University over the last three years, I have recently had the excitement of working initially with synchronous online instruction. The interactive video conferencing (IVC) sessions that I am experiencing bring a new dimension to the teaching process. These sessions allow the opportunity to know the students that I work with, not only by name, and as individuals, but as friends. Interactive video conferencing allows access to facial interaction, and awareness of personality characteristics that provide an opportunity to develop more personal dialogues and more intense communications regarding music education topics at a high-order level. IVC makes available instantaneous verbal communications and continual focus on the conversations that are sometimes eradicated by the barrier of “klutz” typing skills of the participants. The communication dialogue interaction is focused, lively, and humor (or sometimes lack thereof), an element that is instantaneous, can bring a teacher and student to a higher level of trust and communication skills. Similarly, lack of trust, and a barrier to communications can also be instantaneously achieved!
As a teacher who initiated his music-teaching career traveling from school-to-school through weather of unmentionable winter adversity to try to get to my classes, it is totally overwhelming to be able to sit in my basement and achieve the same results with students throughout the world. I can happily say that we have come “a long way baby” when we now mention “Music, Anywhere, Anytime.” Now I can teach my college students on line and communicate directly with anyone anyplace in the world at any time, and most importantly in a more individualized and effective manner. What is so amazing, I now know each student personally and can immediately relate names to faces and situations. This is quite a difference from when I was working in actual classroom situations. With a multitude of individuals who I saw in classes, with sometimes no communication other than the paper assignments I received, names were very vaguely associated with persons. The learning experience is heightened, as I am able to learn about music education programs anywhere including countries such as England or South Africa from people who are teaching there in real-time situations. The learning situation is expanded as both the instructor and student can immediately share and talk about the educational situation at hand providing more effective realistic communication opportunities for improvementand overall better results from the teaching experience.
Importantly, there is a developing future possibility for public school students, as eventually they will to be able to work with their teachers in the same manner allowing for online home communication as part of the public school program. Note the description of the activities at the New World Symphony as described in Appendix A by Sarah Burman, Manager of Coaching Activities at the New World Symphony, America's Orchestral Academy. The MusicLab program at NWS currently provides students of five schools in the Miami-Dade public school students with private music lessons when they normally would not have the opportunity for such lessons. (MusicLab URL (http://www.nws.edu/MusicLab.aspx )
Soon, IVC will be a major part of more effective and less expensive public school education, and we will eventually see students be able to perform at private lessons, be a part of an ensemble or chamber group, and should their music programs be cut from the public school budget, be able to continue with their musical experience and education.
As bandwidth increases and software becomes more dedicated, students who have not met each other physically will perform together across many miles and international musical communications will be established as distance and cultural barriers melt away. Lessons with the outstanding teacher who is thousands of miles away will become commonplace.
Paper Focus and Orientation