computer assisted instruction

On Teaching Piano with Multiple Cameras

This week's lessons feature a fun bonus for my students - the addition of the POV camera. My last student of the evening and I had a ball working with the POV camera. By using trakAxPC, I am able to create a split-screen lesson clip. All it took was a little Virtual Choir genius ("Clap 3 times") to sync the two video clips:

Virtual Choir 3 Conductor Video (Soprano) - Water Night from Eric Whitacre on Vimeo.

Here's what a split screen lesson clip looks like:

Music lesson clip recorded with a Logitech HD webcam anda GoPro Hero2 Camera. Edited with the free program trakAxPC. Photo by R-M Arca.

This way, my students get the exact same perspectives they get when they are sitting at the bench (the straight-ahead view of the score and an HD shot of the peripheral view of their hands. trakAxPC is so easy to use. I haven't even gone through the tutorials!

Music and technology is a wonderful thing.

Using Webcams in Music Lessons

Last year, I purchased an HD webcam for my music studio. My students, their parents and I have enjoyed how easy it is to take a quick video clip or photo of either a hand position or drilling a troublespot in their music. They get to review it as many times as they need to at home as an unlisted Youtube video.

Computer assisted instruction aids music practice. Photo by R-M Arca

Some of my piano parents really like the overhead camera as it gives them the same view that pianists see when they look at their hands.

This year, we are moving full-steam ahead with computer assisted instruction. Thanks to Memory Express and Best Buy, I was able to take advantage of their huge sale on webcams. 

Webcam #2 is positioned to give that all important profile view. It's great for checking posture and ergonomic movement.

Technology in music can be as easy as a $30 HD webcam. Photo by R-M Arca.

It took a while for some of today's students to find Webcam #3. I have a few students who need the pedal view.

Having multiple camera views for computer assisted music lessons is ideal. Photo by R-M Arca.

My beginner piano students were pretty eager to test how well my computer could handle recording from two cameras simultaneously. It turned out all right. I'll have to fiddle around with the audio settings a bit, but at least my students and I are having fun with these toys as we explore the exciting world of music. Once we get a better handle on things, Skype piano coaching can't be too far away.

Using Video Tutorials in Your Studio, Starring Your Students

In my entry, Piano Pedagogy & Technology Musings, I unveiled my grand plan to create an online audio/visual library for my students to use to assist with their at-home practicing. So far, my students have enjoyed laughing at my How to Sit at the Piano video, in which I use one of Maestro's giant stuffed dogs to demonstrate. Likewise with my Troubleshooting video, which showed that even teachers need to drill trouble spots repeatedly to iron them out. A few of them actually ask, "Can we make a video clip of that?" so they can watch us working on one of their pieces at a later time.

I initially set out to make 12 videos but it looks like there will be at least 15 in all as I or my students get ideas of what else to shoot. However, I am sure that my students don't want to watch just me for all 15, so I've gone recruiting.

If this is something that you're thinking of trying your studio, I highly recommend having your students star in some of your video tutorials. Six students have eagerly stepped up to the plate to date with several more waiting for their turn. One student demonstrated how he practices his memory stations, one shared how she started learning a song in lead sheet form, while four shared stories they made up to go with their pieces. They're finding the whole experience a blast, while I am getting my share of laughs of smiles.

All you need is your digital camera (if it takes video) or a video recorder. Make sure you have at least 4 GB on your SD card (I have 8 GB). As far as movie editing software goes, I've just been using Windows Movie Maker, which has lots of tutorials and help menus. A tripod is a bonus.

As an alternative to posting them on your website, you could burn your videos onto a DVD-R or DVD/RW or share them with your students via memory stick or ftp. Mind you, if you and your students are on Facebook, all you'd have to do is create a group for your studio and post your videos to the group. Of course, there are sites like Youtube and Vimeo.

Next on the horizon are the videos on Outstanding Openings and Fabulous Photo Finishes. I think I'll go recruiting again to get students to demonstrate each of these.

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