Just how effective is learning an instrument over the internet using live video? Many might argue there is no substitute to having face-to-face lessons, but for those who are geographically far-flung, the idea certainly has merit.
The London-based company Musical Orbit, launched in April this year, takes internet-based teaching to a new level. It allows one to book online lessons with principals from many of the leading orchestras from the UK and Europe, including the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic and Hallé Orchestra. The user needs nothing more than a laptop equipped with a webcam.
Musical Orbit has recruited some 103 teachers of mainly orchestral instruments, but there are singers, baroque and jazz musicians, aural teachers and exam trainers amongst its faculty too. Most teachers are in the UK, but one is based in Australia – Celia Craig, principal oboe with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (she was previously the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s principal cor anglais).
Founder Nicole Wilson told the Financial Times: “I was stunned by the enthusiasm of amazing players to teach at all levels — only one has declined. For example, there’s a horn student in Australia who is taking lessons with a principal horn player in a major London orchestra.”
In the US, the Online Music Institute and Zenph Online Education Network (ZOEN) offer similar kinds of services, but the idea is yet to take off in Australia. Given our thinness of resources spread over a large country, it would make thorough sense. Nevertheless, we have Music Teachers Online, a directory of teachers located in 44 cities and regional centres; and the AMEB now offers an Online Theory Course to “allow students to learn music theory at their own place, supporting what is taught in the classroom or private music studio”.