For roughly the past three years, the Eastman School of Music’s Institute for Music Leadership (IML) has worked to create an innovative method of musical instruction called Speed Lessons.
The lessons, made available on Nov. 16, consist of ESM faculty members coaching students in downloadable videos.
The videos are available online, and once purchased for the approximate price of $10, do not expire.
Ramon Ricker, Institute Director and Senior Associate Dean for Professional Studies at Eastman, explained that the lessons, while promoting the Eastman brand with the talent and expertise of the faculty, students and staff, were created to help share high-level instruction with the musical community in the U.S. and throughout the world via the Internet.
Ricker also hopes that Speed Lessons will be a great source of income to help pay for the operation of the IML, which brainstorms and implements innovative ideas and programs in the modern music world.
In addition to monetarily helping the IML, students who do not have regular access to ESM faculty instruction now have a financially affordable way of obtaining professional coaching.
“Considering how much a private lesson would cost with these professors … or with any credible private music instructor for that matter, I think the pricing of these lessons is very reasonable,” senior Jacob Haskel, a music major on the River Campus, said.
Ken Grant, associate professor of clarinet, sees schools buying the Speed Lessons for their libraries as research tools. This is because ESM instructors and other music school faculty members offer different opinions on the same repertoire.
“The music business is very subjective, and teaching styles are very different,” Grant said.
He also said that the lessons would be interesting for prospective students looking to find out more about his specific teaching style.
Mark Kellogg, associate professor of euphonium, trombone and brass chamber music, agreed that Speed Lessons are particularly useful for prospective ESM students.
“It’s such a unique relationship and a unique connection that a student has with his or her teacher,” Kellogg explained. “Having that comfort with the professor is really important, and maybe the first line in getting to know that teacher might be to watch him or her teach online.”
Kellogg further noted that in his videos he did not continually use the same teaching methods, but rather assessed the performances he heard from his students.
“When you’re teaching, you have to teach the student, not the material,” he said.
The third-person viewing experience of Speed Lessons strikes senior Peter Kalal, a musical arts major at ESM, as innovative.
“On YouTube and the like, you can find a lot of instructional videos, but few where you can see the instructor’s suggestions put into practice during a 30 to 45 minute lesson,” he said.
Kalal also said that the lessons might prove useful as he begins to take on his own students.
“Viewing the lessons could offer pedagogical insights from the best teachers in their fields,” he said.
Speed Lessons are optimized for mobile devices, so students can easily bring their copy of the lesson into the practice room.
“I think it’s incredible that there’s a way to get the insight and wisdom of Eastman professors at the click of a mouse or in your hands on an iPad or something to that effect,” Haskel said. “This is a true testament to technology and how the arts can take advantage of modern developments in a positive way.”
More is still to come with respect to Speed Lessons. In addition to expanding from the current five instruments to every instrument in an orchestra, voice and conducting, “you’re going to be able to buy and download your senior recital and the last wind ensemble concert,” Ricker said.
To purchase the lessons, visit esm.rochester.edu/iml/speedlessons.
Seligman is a member of the class of 2012.