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Nathan Cole

My online violin school launched today

December 13, 2012 at 1:34 AM

Today was a big milestone in my project with ArtistWorks, as my online school has officially launched. It's been tough recording and sitting on all these video lessons without being able to interact with students, but that changes starting today!

Actually I got a sneak peek at how my school works over the last 10 days, during "beta testing". As you probably know, software goes through several stages of testing before being released, so that any "bugs" can be found. The same was true for my site. I had a crew of about 20 students who tried every link, tested the forums/chat features, and submitted videos for my feedback. That's been the best part of the pre-launch time: seeing student videos, responding with my own video, and getting their feedback about how they're progressing.

What's interesting to me is that one of the founders of ArtistWorks, David Butler, designed the original AOL (it's true!) so he's intimately familiar with how social networks grow. He observed that nobody visits an empty chat room, or even one with 3 or 4 people in it. But once the room reaches "critical mass", say 7 or more chatters, it explodes in size and activity. On my site, the main resource isn't chat, it's Video Exchanges. Each exchange equals a student video paired with my video feedback. So while it seems daunting at first for a student to post a video of herself playing Mozart Symphony 39, she can watch a bunch of Video Exchanges of that excerpt before posting her own. Therefore each lesson (68 excerpts, 8 concerto movements, 2 Bach movements, 17 etudes, 22 fundamental skills) will eventually have a library of past Video Exchanges that all students can watch and search.

I've taught so many live lessons, and Skype lessons, but I'm excited to see how these exchanges will help my students. You give up the "live" aspect, but you get to watch your feedback as many times as you want, for as long as you want. And you get to see others playing and getting feedback on the same piece. That's something I remember fondly from my Suzuki days.

I even mentioned the shoulder rest debate in one of the lessons on shifting! For the record, I mentioned that even though I use one, I've spent two 1-month periods in my life without, where I learned a great deal about the left hand. :)

nathancoleviolin.com is the place to go.


From Simon Streuff
Posted on December 14, 2012 at 12:09 AM
looks great. Don't keep the responses too short though. I just watched the one on Schumanns Scherzo. I think you missed on string crossings. I would put as mch information in as possible!
great work and congratulation!
Do you have no fine tuners at all at your violin? What kind of violin and pegs is that you use? Sounds nice
From Nathan Cole
Posted on December 14, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Hi Simon, the video above is more a "highlight" video put together to show what the school is about. The actual video lesson on the Schumann Scherzo, for example, is over 7 minutes long and definitely covers the nasty string crossings! Student videos (and my response videos) are typically in the 2-minute range, in order to address the most immediate need for that student in that piece.

Yes, I ditched the fine tuners (and normal pegs) a few months ago when my luthier decided that my violin had had one too many cracks and repairs in the pegbox over the centuries. This is the Jack Benny Stradivarius, from 1729 and belonging to the LA Phil. The pegs are Wittner pegs, which you may know of already. They're glued into the pegbox and only the insides turn using gears. So no fine tuners! I've never been happier. No slipping ever. That's partly due to our modern strings, of course. I use Vision Solo since they tend to last forever and are very stable, without an overly steely sound.

From Simon Streuff
Posted on December 14, 2012 at 9:41 AM
Thanks for the information. I heard from the Wittner pegs from different sides now. Especially Cellist seem to like them. I think the first version was only for cello anyways.
Ok its a nice instrument you got there. ;) Looks like in very good condition. Thanks for the information about strings, that was my next question. I should finally try out the visions, since they seem quite popular in the us.
Good work on the video responses, I viewed the availible videos at your page through yesterday. Also good camera and Microphone setup as far as I can tell.

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