Have you noticed a recent renaissance in the technology available for teaching and learning musical instruments? I mean, there are some COOL gadgets out there, and some COOL websites, many of them FREE that help students learn a musical instrument.

Here are just a few examples of what’s out there:

In fact, video seems to be taking root as the preferred delivery method for all kinds of musical information. All across the web, teachers are using video to enhance the learning experience. (Two Words: “Professor V“.)

A Case Study in Effective Use of Technology

I want to show you one fantastic example of the use of Internet technology to supplement violin teaching: MyViolinVideos.com, by my friend Diane. She collects instructional video from various reputable teachers and posts them on her website for her private students.

Isn’t it cool that she is not not threatened in the least by using these video enhancements by other teachers?? She’s a genuine giver, that one.

Not only that, but she also records students’ performances and posts them on her site for them to view and critique.

Diane told me her studio experienced an “explosion of growth” when she introduced her website to her students. Technology enhances teaching, and it enhances learning. You should definitely check out Diane’s site to see what she’s up to, but here’s a summary from the woman herself:

My Violin Videos is about empowering students through video by presenting their recitals on a site that is attractive, organized, and exclusively violin related (in other words, free from all the distractions of YouTube). It also empowers students with supportive tutorials. Tutorials can be information, play-alongs, or whatever creative ideas teachers come up with.

All teachers and violin students from all different studios can post.

My students’ parents biggest concern about posting was getting comments. Sometimes people can be weird and nasty with their comments. Therefore, on all my videos I have disabled comments, ratings, video responses, and syndication. Videos are embedded on myviolinvideos.com so students can view them without being on YouTube. Perhaps someday down the road we’ll have enough traffic that we can host our own videos and not use YouTube at all!

The results for my personal studio have far exceeded expectations. The kids that use the tutorials to practice are progressing faster and more effectively than those who don’t. They love having their own Performer Page and being able to see their progress from recital to recital.

My students thoroughly enjoy watching the other performances posted. Parents are relieved to have the concerts video available. It saves them the time and effort and after each recital, they are anxious for me to get everything posted so they can share the link to their child’s performance with their family and friends.

Did you see that Diane feels that her students who supplement their practice with technology are progressing faster??

I LOVE the idea of technology helping us to learn to play an instrument! Back in the day, I needed a pitch generator, but they were quite expensive, so I got out my electronic keyboard and put a Swiss Army knife on whichever note I wanted as a drone! Now, you can download a pitch generator for your CELL PHONE!

I have done some exploration with online violin lessons, and was opposed to them in the beginning. But now I am a firm believer that they CAN be effective…with the right teacher. (ahem….I have a little surprise for y’all in December!)

Different Delivery Methods for Online Violin Lessons

Several methods are available for learning to play violin online. One is the WebCam lesson. With technology getting cheaper and internet speeds getting faster, WebCam lessons are actually very effective. A friend of mine has done this for years and has it down to a fine art. Although her WebCam lessons are no cheaper than her private lesson fee, they are still very good.

Next is the “video exchange” method, where the teacher views a sample of a student’s playing, then films a “teacher response” to the student, complete with critique, demonstrations, and assignments. There is a format called “ArtistWorks” which has made this very slick and high quality, and is on the cutting edge of this method of remote instruction.

Next is prerecorded video lessons. These are all over the place, and tons of them are free. The only problem with this delivery method is that you may not know if the information you are getting is reliable (some of these videos made me giggle), so you may be mislead.
Additionally, it’s SO DIFFICULT to get this free information in any sort of sequential order, and it can be detrimental for you to learn an advanced technique before you develop certain fundamental techniques. (Kind of like learning to dive before you can swim…ouch)

These types of videos might be scattered about on YouTube somewhere, they might be in a hard copy that you can actually buy, or they might be delivered through a website. If you get them through a website, chances are you will get some “technical support” or should I say, “Technique Support” where you can get help on certain issues you struggle with.

From electronic instruments and all the effects they create, to electronic MUSIC, where your music is displayed right on your computer screen, with a guideline to help you stay on track, to portable recording equipment and software for everything imaginable, there’s a technological toy for all of us that will help us to learn faster and better….or at least help us have more fun while we’re doing it!

Share your favorite “toy” with all of us in the comments section below!