The majority of my students began MARLI already having had significant experience in a virtual learning environment; as a result, they were able to move seamlessly into the Music Academy activities.
I’ve developed some new teaching senses that have been requiring some extra attention and effort. Teaching over Zoom doesn’t include working on beautiful sound, which is my usual go-to place in a live lesson. I’ve had to resort to more visual and "instinctive telepathy." So, although it’s tiring, it’s also necessary and the new normal.
As you can imagine, this has been a summer like no other. We have all been on the same learning curve. After an initial feeling out period where everyone was getting used to the format, and finding out the correct mic placements and recording levels, things have been going very smoothly.
It goes without saying that it would have been a far richer experience if we could have worked together in person. Considering the high level at which our fellows perform, offering meaningful instruction depends on hearing them live to assess and encourage subtitles of expression and nuance. Also, hearing them in performance and rehearsal with other players was impossible in the remote setting, so the all-important skills of listening and responding in the moment were not addressed.
That said, in the remote format teachers do have an opportunity to listen very carefully and comment thoughtfully on student’s lesson recordings, which facilitates really going into depth on technical aspects of playing. In terms of getting to know them as people, MARLI provided enough group meetings like studio classes and excerpt sessions where we could all interact that I thought we were able to create a real sense of community. I look forward to building on that next summer in person!
We’ve had an exceptional class of fellows again this year, and I became virtually unaware (and otherwise took advantage of) the screen/technology in every one of our sessions together.
Teaching in a remote way was something I didn’t think could happen effectively, to be quite honest. Platforms such as Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype do not lend themselves to transmitting sound in a reliable, effective way. Once it became clear that the most valuable use of our time would be to have the Fellows record themselves, send us YouTube links, and use our shared remote time for observations and discussions about their recordings, a whole new pedagogical world opened up. I was able to stop and start the recordings, review things again and again, and make valuable discoveries that actually wouldn’t happen in real time. I got excited, the Fellows got excited, and I believe some real progress was made for each of them this summer.
First of all, just like when the Summer Festival takes place in Santa Barbara, the time just flew by. I think the fellows got a real reminder of the benefits of recording yourself. The students and I spent a lot of time sending recordings back and forth and really dissecting their playing.