Wednesday, April 1, 2009

MTNA Nat'l Conference - Teaching via the Internet

(Click here to see all of my posts from the 2009 MTNA National Convention.)

From a distance: Practical Teaching via the Internet
Presented by Kathleen Maskell, MusicWorks Studio, Tewksbury, MA and
Paul Sheftel, The Julliard School, New York

Paul Sheftel, who teaches pedagogy at Julliard and has written loads of great material for piano students, revealed to us that he teaches piano to his 4 grandchildren via the internet. They live in Boston; he lives in NY. He does it with a connection like iChat or Skype and a couple of cameras – one trained on his hands and one trained on his face. He asserts that while it is not necessary to have a digital piano, many opportunities do open up when both the teacher and student have a digital piano and software such as Home Concert Extreme. We got to see and hear one of Dr. Sheftel’s students live via the internet.

I must admit that I have had reservations about internet teaching. I still don’t think I’d ever want to teach a beginner this way. I need to touch them – to physically address posture and hand position and occasionally to have them rest their fingers on top of mine while I play so that they can feel how articulations and gestures work. I need the intimacy of a face-to-face lesson. But, I also admit that I find the idea of internet teaching intriguing. I have a very good student who is moving to Germany next year. Hmmm.

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