Technology and Teaching by Richard Wilson
This article is about embracing technology to get the most out of your time, students, staff and also to help get ahead of the competition. I am a strong believer in using technology to make life simpler. Within my day to day lessons I use the following pieces of technology to help my students get more out of their lessons:
Alesis Multimix firewire desk
Ableton Live 8
Zoom Q3 video camera
Mac Book Pro – The Macbook is the heart of everything I do. It is the control centre for my business, and I use it for everything from Email and accounting to recording music, running backing tracks, keeping student records and managing staff and lessons via an online calendar.
Alesis Firewire Desk – This is connected to several mics setup on the drum kit, the firewire connection from the desk then goes into the Macbook to record high quality audio. The audio can then be played back to the students during a lesson to help highlight any issues within their playing.
Ableton Live 8 –This is the software that runs on the Macbook to enable me to record via the desk. I am also able to create play along loops and tracks for students using this software.
Zoom Q3 – I use the Zoom Q3 to record students playing in a lesson situation. The high quality video and audio from this device makes highlighting technique issues much easier and the students are able to see for themselves the problem areas.
Safari – This is used for getting online from the Macbook. During lessons this can be very helpful for looking at youtube clips and for looking up different bands and artists that students talk about. I also use this for keeping on top of bookings with our online calendar.
How does all the technology help us to get ahead?
From a business point of view the internet connection we have in the studio allows all the tutors to get online and lookup clips or to get sheet music, play backing tracks and above all else it allows them to use our online booking system and keep a track of all our bookings. As things get busy, working smart is the best way to work.
From a personal point of view using the technology has made things much easier during a normal lesson. I can record what the student is playing into Ableton Live and then we can listen back to any specific track that we have recorded (eg, Bass drum, Snare etc…..). This is a fantastic way to highlight any issues they may have with balance or timing in their playing. In addition to this I can also use the Zoom Q3 video camera to look at performance levels and technique. I have found that a visual aid helps to enhance an audio recording.
Once all this has been done the student can take away the video or Mp3 file on a memory stick to study until their next lesson. I have found this to be a huge benefit in helping students to improve. Once they see themselves playing they can then become the tutor and start to correct anything they see that is not working.
The internet in the studio has also been a great help. Students will often come into a lesson and say that they have seen a drummer on You Tube. With the internet in the studio I can pull up the page and help them understand what the drummer is doing.
The combination of internet and video recording facilities has enabled me to offer video lessons for students who are unable to attend studio lessons as I am also a keen Skype user. I use this to keep in contact with my students who live around the UK and also the keep in touch with people across the Globe. The biggest advantage to this is having regular face to face conversations with my friend, mentor and master teacher Mr. Dom Famularo. I have known and studied with Dom for several years and it is great to know that when I need some advice all I have to do is call him up on Skype and he will help me out with any challenges.
To anyone who already has a teaching practice or is thinking of starting to teach, I would recommend taking advantage of all that technology has to offer. It has certainly improved the way that I both do business and teach. The amount of students we have as a business and the distance they are traveling is testament to this.