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Online Music Teaching "Advantages, actually!"

Updated: May 4, 2021



First of all, there is no subsitute for teaching Live in my field. Our art is sound. Our medium is the body and the instrument. Our skills are craftmanschip. Our world is articulations and subtleties of emotions expressed in audible form, with an endless variety of volume, tone, rhythmical and physical executions of the deepest emotions. Created by the vibrations of strings touched by bow hair, and nothing electronic or electric involved.


However, the new challenges have present new perspectives, some hopes, and a creative approach. I would like to share a limited list of them, based on my own online teaching experience.

Technology:


The number one problem with online violin lessons is the rustic technology of internet connection, cheap microphones, and meeting Apps-not designed to catch the subtleties of violin sound. In the next years we hope to see a swift development of recording technologies, making high quality microphones and cameras more affordable. Exclusive wireless earphones to become more mainstream. And faster internet connection, high-quality online meeting Apps.


Geography:


You can study with anyone online. The geographical convenience is unprecedented. A lesson with Pinchas Zuckerman, Kurt Sassmannshaus, and Midori? As accessible as our coffee maker. Moreover, these lessons may allow more participants to "come in", listen and take notes. The number of attendees can reach millions.


Which takes us to the Masterclass format. Being slightly more exclusive events of elite artists and professors, they could become more accessible than ever. Just like the open lesson allow hundreds of listeners to quietly attend, the attendees can submit questions in the chat portion, and play the same passages at home, testing the same ideas that are being explained on-screen without disturbing the viewers.


Eloquent vocal explanation of technique


Violin teaching is a beautiful workshop where the talent of a novice is crafted patiently by the love and experience of the teacher. The process is flexible, fluid, and present. However, there is an occasional danger that the student could blindly imitate a teacher's technique (for example bow hand), ignoring their biological differences. A vocal explanation of how the fingers bend, which joints to use, how heavy or light one's arm should be, is without physical contact more challenging, yet quite effective in the long run. It is an important skill to develop. At the end of the day, the student should have an intellectual understanding of the basic Anatomy involved in his music-making.


Visual Imitation


Imitiation itself is NONETHELESS a very important part of learning. In our field there is visual and audio imitation. In the present, an audio imitation is out of the question. The visual part however will not dimish under these new circumstances. In fact, in my experience, the students often managed to convert what they saw into creating their own individual sound. As I demonstrated a passage, I used the entire bow freely and I smiled. They ignored the audible, but used the entire bow and smiled too. Soon they found their own "free and smiley" sound by seeing the movement, and embracing the emotion. It is like sharpening a new sense at the weakening of an existing one.


Performing


In my online teaching experience, students are often forced to exaggerate their motions of musical transitions, tempo flucutations, beginning and ending of phrases, etc. These excellent ensemble skills, traditionally reseved for concertmasters or quartet players, are slowly overtaking every style of music making.


Let's face it! We live in an era of increasing visuals, drawing the audience into the inner depth of our interpretation. As we classical musicians compete with pop stars whose visual effects support, illustrate, and sometimes even surpass their singing talents, our mission is always and forever to communicate with our listeners. They have come to the music hall to hear and see! A new and fresh interpretation! To be connected with the heart of the performer. To love and cry together through Brahms. To dance through Rossini. And spew revolutionizing anger through Beethoven.


Once, a non-musician, naively suggested to me that the 1st violins could stand up during their solo moments, and then the trompet player, and so on. Although this idea is not in accordance with the art of orchestra playing, one needs to reconsider our relationship with the audience, and what is the real essence of their requests.


Overall, online music learning may be the greatest and most counterintuitive approach to our Art. But the advantages of the elements I mentioned above should perhaps not be ignored.








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