Here’s an interesting training idea. If you think your music teacher has to be physically beside you, think again.
Aldeburgh Music is the body behind the 65 year old annual Aldeburgh Festival, founded by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears in the Suffolk town they lived in and loved. It has an ongoing strategy to promote high end professional development to young artists from all over the globe, regardless of their background and location. Hence Aldeburgh World Orchestra a new venture for 2012, which is playing at the Proms in London on July 29.
Rebecca Gilliver is principal cellist of the London Symphony Orchestra. She is a also a regular cello tutor at the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, having worked with the Britten-Pears Orchestra cello section in 2010 and 2011. She returns to Aldeburgh Music next month to mentor and work with the cello section of the Aldeburgh World Orchestra. And that includes a lesson on Wednesday this week with AWO cellist, Marcellino Safwat. He was in Cairo. She was in Britain using Aldeburgh Music’s remote working suite.
Aldeburgh Music has been investigating and piloting two forms of remote working for musicians. It is part of Aldeburgh’s international artist development programmes - a teaching platform in collaboration with BT and an auditioning platform through YouTube. And it means geography is no barrier - a terrific breakthrough considering the orchestra has over 120 players from 32 countries.
“During the research we explored various aspects of remote working including enhanced audio quality and a split-screen multi-camera interface which would allow teachers to interact with, and not merely witness and comment on student performances” explained a Aldeburgh Music spokesman. “We tested this using a Polycom Video Conferencing system and by setting up various combinations of instrumental lessons with our expert tutors, including David Geber who was resident in Aldeburgh but gave lessons remotely to string students at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. The platform was further researched by Sam Duffy of Queen Mary University, who explored the application of this with regards to one-to-one teaching of junior players.”
Aldeburgh World Orchestra (AWO) already uses a successful, remote auditioning system via a private YouTube site. “This ensured accessibility and has generated a lot of interest from colleagues, said the spokesman. Aldeburgh Music is compiling a list of institutions which already have access to innovative equipment. In particular it has links with Manhattan School of Music and Mannes School of Music in New York and the Peabody Institute in Philadelphia. There are plans for joint projects in December. Aldeburgh Music is also liaising with the Royal College of Music’s, Head of Recording and Technology, Matt Parkin, with a view to developing similar partnerships with their students.
These are early stages and I can only marvel at the technology which I confess I don’t understand. But anything which makes it easier for musicians to work together wherever they are and to make training opportunities more globally inclusive has got to be a good thing. And, who knows, perhaps in a few years time this is the shape most music lessons could take.