Next-Generation Video Tools for Music Instruction

Video recordings have been an important tool in music education for a long time. But now, video-based practice and feedback, sewn tightly together, are becoming a vital part of applied music instruction and learning. There are a variety of reasons why hearing and seeing oneself perform daily can make a big difference in musicians’ development. And there’s the practical side too: video-practice using the right technology allows teachers to teach with detailed feedback even when student and teacher aren’t in the same place at the same time!

Video for Self-reflection and Self-critique

  1. Recording Improves Musicianship

Recording yourself allows you to listen to your performance from the impartial perspective or standpoint of an audience member, critic or teacher. Whether you record a single phrase in a practice room or a full-length concert performance, recording allows you to stand back and listen as if it were somebody else’s performance, gaining insights you never could otherwise. As musicians we can then refine and improve our sound to align with our gathered insights. You listen to how musical your playing is – are you being as dynamic and tasteful as you could be? Is your approach appropriate for the genre or style? Recording sharpens your musicianship so that you can gauge every facet of your playing or singing with an impartial ear.

  1.      You Sound Different Than You Think

Just as anyone who has recorded themselves on video before has noticed, the actual tone of voice or instrument that others hear is very different than what you hear in your own head. This is especially important for vocalists as their self-perceived tone differs more dramatically from what their audiences hear. Recording yourself allows you to understand how you actually sound to listeners which is essential for delivering a excellent performance! Greg Foot explains this in a great video.

  1. Performance Practice Makes Perfect

In addition to listening to the recording, seeing yourself on camera is great for performance practice as it is very important to see what you look like while singing or playing your instrument. Do you sit properly? Is your back straight? How is your bowing technique? Are there any bad habits you should be working on? During playback, you can then make those critical judgment calls, hear weaknesses, and more clearly hear how close your actual playing is compared to where you think you should be. Fixing these small technical imperfections will work wonders for improving your tone, confidence, and stamina.

All in all, the ability to reflect on one’s own playing and take action based on reviewing playback is a huge leap in a musician’s development.  The more we can do to foster clarity of musical concepts within ourselves, the more consistent musicians we become, and the more joy we can produce when we play.

Video for Feedback!

Video recording becomes all the more useful for a student when the players and teachers can have a dialogue around the recording even when they’re not in the same place at the same time.  Web applications for audio and video sharing like WeVu.video, made for private sharing and pinpoint feedback, make this possible. As a student of music, you need someone at a higher level to push you past your current abilities; a teacher or mentor who listens and identifies what you can do to improve. Moreover, as many academic studies have suggested, instrumental music teachers should not only concentrate on instruction, but also give appropriately weighted and timed criticism and praise. Teacher approval and disapproval have a considerable effect on students’ motivation to study music, especially if given consistently. If a low-cost, private, efficient video web application can supplement face-to-face instruction, musicians can make progress faster and more effectively. They’ll know exactly the things they need to work on without having to wait for the next in-person session with an instructor. Thesedays, with this kind of web software for sharing and feedback, all the student needs to record herself is a phone!

Drs. Robert Taylor and Jonathan Girard, Professors and Band/Orchestra Directors at the prestigious UBC School of Music, have been leaders in using video software like WeVu to great success. As Dr. Taylor emphasized, these video tools are timely and ensure that none of the advice students receive are forgotten. When asked whether he had any advice for instructors hoping to implement this in their course, Taylor is very enthusiastic:  “Jump right into it! This tool had an incredibly positive effect on my classes and it’s revolutionized the School of Music admission process. There isn’t a lot to worry about in terms of student reception, because they actually find it way more intuitive than we do thanks to all the different technologies they use on an everyday basis. This kind of tool is very powerful and will deliver.”