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March 14, 09

The Exponential Musician in Malvern, PA

Last week's "Exponential Musician" workshop in Malvern, PA for the Main Line Music Teachers Association was an absolute blast!  There's nothing quite like being in a room full of participants and seeing enthusiastic light bulbs glow as folks start to realize the amazing possibilities that technology can offer to enhance the pedagogy, performance, and practice of music!

Here are some pictures from the workshop, graciously taken by Diane Bull (thanks Diane!):

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Here's a shot of the setup as it was being put together.  From L to R: Shure telescoping mic stand, projector screen, Sanyo theater projector (which didn't end up being used, as i forgot to bring the VGA cables! DOH!), my backup HP mini projector (whew), Bose L1 Cylindrical Loudspeaker, piano, Sager Laptop on a Laptop Tripod, HP Laptop on piano, Blue Snowball USB mic (connected to the Sager, which served as the main presentation computer)

 

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Here's a closeup of the setup above, and the view from the audience as i put the finishing touches together below:

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The activity room we were in had beautiful windows and a scenic view of the Malvern countryside!

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I used a MindMap in presentation mode, which allowed me to jump between topics and hyperlink files such as PowerPoint slideshows, pictures, video clips, and programs.  It's nice not to be stuck in a linear presentation format!  BTW, that's a brand new AirTurn polo shirt i'm wearing ;)

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One of the highlights of the workshop was giving live lesson demonstrations using various tools like the open source audio recorder/editor Audacity, as well as MusicReader to view and project the music score and digital ink annotations in realtime.  Here's a picture of me working with student Mary Mox on the "Reverie" by Debussy, using Audacity to visualize the audio recorded via the Blue Snowball USB microphone into the computer.  By learning to recognize peaks and dynamic shapes in audio wave files, it was amazing to see how much faster Mary was able to correct herself to achieve a particular expressive effect!

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Here i demonstrate what we're looking for, recording myself on a separate track to compare with the other "takes".  Again, the visual feedback provides a powerful pedagogical tool to help students take on what i call the "3rd perspective" - in other words, being able to objectively hear what the audience hears from a performance without any physical distractions.  While we might "feel" a certain dynamic effect, such as a crescendo by tensing up muscles and moving our body in such a way, it can be surprising to learn how little of that translates into what is actually heard by the audience - or, in this case, the microphone.

Another tool used was my netbook's webcam, to demonstrate how easy it is to capture quick videos at different angles, specifically to help students see their own posture and physical affectations that might be having an effect on their playing.  Again, it's one thing to see it from your own point of view seated at the piano (or looking into the mirror for another instrumentalist), but it's another thing entirely to view yourself from angles that can really reveal what your hands, arms and shoulders are doing.

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Working with another student, Becky Hood, on Debussy's "Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum" from his "Children's Corner" suite.  The goal is to help students use technological tools to become their own teachers by giving them multi-sensory ways to hear and see what's going on in their performance. 

 

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Here's another student, Miranda Liu, as we work on a Bach Invention (you can see the score being projected on the screen behind her, using MusicReader).  In this instance, we saw how using digital music readers can free up students and teachers from the limitations of ink and paper, particularly when it comes to dynamically annotating scores.  With traditional ink and paper, there is an inherent fear of mistakes;  what i mean by this is that you are limited to using erasable pencils which aren't always as visually vivid to be truly useful, and using color inks or markers requires a level of "perfection" in the annotation, since you can't erase ink.  \

With digital ink, there is no fear of putting the wrong color or marking down, as all annotations are non-destructive.  It's as easy to erase as it is to mark, so that there is more encouragement to play in the musical "sandbox", as it were - coloring the motif in the right hand in red, perhaps, then trying to color the motif in the left hand in blue.  Made a mistake and colored the wrong notes?  No problem with a digital score!  When mistakes aren't fear-inducing but transformed into valuable learning tools, students can be encouraged to be more exploratory and experimental in their study of the score.

We had a wonderful turnout and a yummy lunch afterwards, with several teachers asking for another workshop soon (many of them expressing a particular interest in exploring Audacity more). 

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As an added bonus, i gave the participants of the workshop a special link to a page on the AirTurn website where they could access all of my MindMap notes, links and files after filling out a brief survey and signing up for our monthly newsletter, all for free!

Next stop on the Exponential Musician Workshop tour:  Boulder, Colorado on April 10!  Stay tuned for details!

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March 06, 09

Piano Hero!

Who knew that playing the piano with the help of the AirTurn could be more fun than playing video games? Check out this wonderful "Piano Hero" video clip by Michael Monroe over at MMusing!



Michael uses an extra monitor attached to his Tablet PC's VGA-out port to enable the 2nd pianist to see the score comfortably. What a clever solution! Certainly cheaper than the screen real estate from a $3000 17 in. MacBook Pro that i'm insanely mulling over...
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March 04, 09

"The Exponential Musician" Workshop in Malvern, PA



The Main Line Music Teachers Association would like to invite you and your students to "The Exponential Musician", a special workshop featuring Pianist and Technology Advocate Hugh Sung on Tuesday, March 10, 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at St. Peter's Church in the Great Valley, 2495 St. Peter's Road, Malvern, PA 19335 (for directions via Google Maps, click here.) A light lunch will be provided for all participants.

"The Exponential Musician" is a special workshop featuring Pianist and Technology Advocate Hugh Sung. In this workshop, Hugh will present live demonstrations on various technologies that can exponentially enhance 3 primary areas of music: Pedagogy, Performance, and Practice.

Exponential Pedagogy

Hugh will demonstrate how using computers as music readers can exponentially improve the pedagogy of music. Using programs such as MusicReader and Audacity, you'll discover innovative ways to apply digital ink and audio/visual cues to dramatically improve the speed and quality of the study of music.

Exponential Performance

From hands-free wireless page turning systems, to the inclusion of visual effects with the Visual Recital concept, you'll be exposed to innovative ideas to enhance stage presence, motivate your students, and engage today's audiences in new and thrilling ways!

Exponential Practice

It's never been easier or more affordable to leverage the power of the Internet to improve your musical practice and expand your teaching studio! From setting up free websites to creating new products for residual income with no money down, Hugh will share his expertise on Internet marketing to help create new opportunities for musicians in today's challenging economic climate. Hugh's blog at www.HughSung.com is dedicated to helping musicians adopt technologies to enhance their art and lifestyle, and is currently one of the most popular classical music blogs on the Internet.


Admission

Admission is free to all members of the Main Line Music Teachers' Association, and $10 for non-member participants. For more information, please contact Cindy Bull at 484-237-8821 or Bev Byers at 610-695-0164.

About The Main Line Music Teachers' Association

Founded in 1974 as the Upper Main Line Piano Teachers, the Main Line Music Teachers Association has always had as its goal to raise the standard of independent music teaching in the surrounding area to a professional level through a program of meetings, recitals and festivals.

The Main Line Music Teachers chapter is affiliated with the Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association and the Music Teachers National Association.

More Info

If your school or organization would like to host an "Exponential Musician" Workshop, please contact info@airturn.com

About Hugh Sung

Hugh Sung is a passionate advocate for the use of technologies to help and enhance the art and lifestyle of musicians. He currently serves as Director of Student Recitals and Instrumental Accompaniment at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and is an active collaborative and solo performer around the world. Hugh has an extensive recorded library available through several premiere online distributers such as iTunes and Amazon.com.

Hugh's blog at www.HughSung.com is one of the most popular classical music blogs on the Internet. In addition to his musical and Internet activities, Hugh is also one of the founders of AirTurn, Inc., a company which creates hands-free wireless page turning transmitters for musicians. Hugh currently serves as its VP of Marketing.

The Exponential Musician Workshop is sponsored in part by AirTurn, Inc.
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Welcome!

Thank you for visiting this site! I hope you'll find this to be a friendly place to learn about and discuss the fascinating technologies available for the Classical Musician. A great place to get started is with the ongoing "Getting Started" series. Remember, the worst questions are the ones you never ask, so feel free to email me!

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