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.
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.
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