Using technology to teach piano

First, my setup:

1) I teach on a digital piano (not a great one, but it’s what I have available in the music store where I teach)

2) I have a 10-year old Mac (Powermac Tower – 266 MHz PPC processor running MacOS 9.2.2) that has 2 midi interfaces.

3) I also have a small sound module (a very old Emu SOundEngine that sounds pretty cheesy, but works)

4) Software includes Band in a box, Finale (from 1994), Opcode EZVision, and Opcode’s Studio Vision

What do I do with it, in lessons?

1) Record the student using MIDI into EZVision, which is faster to setup than Studio Vision. They can hear themselves. Sometimes I’ll bring teh parents  in as well. I’ll also transfer the midi file down to my “real” studio, convert the midi into audio, and email the resulting MP3 to the parents as a surprise.

2) Use iTunes (version 1!) to play some jazz or classical piano tracks. One of the students was learning a piece (titled something like Sugar Rag) – so I played a “real” ragtime for them – a recording of a Scott Joplin piano roll. IT started a conversation about what they were hearing, and what each hand was doing….. and how they could do that with enough practice.

3) I’ve also been using the setup to create new music for some of my other activities, when I have some downtime. This is the advantage of standard midi files – they can be exported on the old Mac, and pulled up into Traktion for further editing on my new Mac… or even a Windows machine.

4) I’ll also create a quickie drum track, have EZVIsion loop it, and use that as a fancy metronome for the student to paly to. If we’re feeling adentureous, I’ll crank up Band-in-a-Box and have it do an even fancier drum track.

There are a few ideas. Got any others?

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