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Video: A Useful Music Teaching Tool
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Author: Phyllis Freeman
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I would like to share with you how to use the medium of video quickly, easily and inexpensively to maximize results and shorten the learning curve of your students. Videotaping my students is a critical component and one of the most useful and important teaching tool I utilize.

As you may have noticed, this current generation of teens is obsessed with looking at themselves. Turn this obsession to your advantage. I have found that one picture is truly worth a thousand words. For example, sometimes, after years of reminding a student to keep their violin scroll higher, I finally show them a video of one of their concerts and they exclaim with amazement that “wow, my scroll really does drop.” (I think that they honestly believe that we make this stuff up!) Video is also a particularly effective teaching tool when it comes to helping students notice issues with intonation, dynamics, posture, stage presence and for string players, bow distribution.

For my public school Suzuki program, we have “video days” where students will perform solo pieces or selections from their orchestra music. I then upload that video to a MY CITY page that I have created for each child in ClassicalMusicCity.com and write a couple of sentences in the “reviews” section. The parent can then reference the video to better understand the suggestions and comments. Parents and their children can watch the video together and discuss what the child is doing well and what would use some attention. This is critical in a program where parents are not present observing the lessons. Students work more consistently and diligently because they love making their videos.

But I also film all the performances of students in the Maryland Talent Education Center and my students at Peabody. The parents in these programs are at the lessons, but I find that the children really benefit from seeing how they have performed in a live concert setting. It is fun, inspirational and educational to watch a child grow and improve over time. It is sometimes hard for a child to see their own progress on a weekly basis, but watching a video from a performance a few years ago, really shows what has been achieved and inspires both parent and child to continue practicing.

In the past it has always been challenging to figure out how to share video with students and parents. There are privacy and quality issues with sites like YouTube. I have found ClassicalMusicCity.com to be the solution. This website was created and designed with teachers and students in mind. It has thousands of pages of video, links, articles, news, events about the classical music industry which can be discovered in the main city. Each of my student’s families has their own “MY CITY” page in the social network area of the site where their video is archived. The MY CITY pages can be set to private, contacts only or public which solves the issue of privacy and safety and the upload system they provide allows for video clips of more than just 10 minutes and the quality is excellent. (Remember, that some quality issues relate to your internet access speed) Just become a member of ClassicalMusicCity.com and there are instructions for uploading video at the top of the MY CITY page. It is simple and best of all, free.

Recently, I have discovered another very important use for each child’s video archives on their MY CITY page. Students have been using a link to their MY CITY page to fulfill the requirements for the Arts Supplement on the Common Application form for undergraduate admissions. Since there is plenty of archived video of live performances, there is no longer a mad rush and the anxiety of putting together audition tapes.

I encourage you to start using the power of video soon. I believe it is a great shortcut to better results with students.

Phyllis Freeman

Phyllis Freeman
    Ms. Freeman is very active as a performer, teacher and entrepreneur.  She created and directed a very successful Suzuki string program at the first charter school in the state of Maryland, the Monocacy Valley Montessori Public Charter School, from 2004-2011.  She is also the director of the Maryland Talent Education Center which is located in Frederick and Mount Airy Maryland and a member of the violin/viola faculty at Peabody Institute in the Preparatory Division.  In addition to her administrative and teaching positions, she is the principal viola for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and a member of the National Philharmonic.  Ms. Freeman has had several articles published in the American Suzuki Journal.
    Ms. Freeman is also the founder and CEO of Molto Legato LLC,  a new media company for the classical music industry.   . Molto Legato has a video division that created a DVD series that violin students use at home to help with practice as well as documentaries like "What is a Suzuki Festival," "Suzuki Founders in the US" and an interview with Suzuki patriarch, John Kendall.  These documentaries and many masterclasses can be found exclusively on www.ClassicalMusicCity.com


 
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