ePiano, a case of music education via internet in rural Zambia
Shoemaker, Kristin and van Stam, Gertjan (2010) ePiano, a case of music education via internet in rural Zambia. In: Proceedings of the WebSci10: Extending the Frontiers of Society On-Line, April 26-27th, 2010, Raleigh, NC: US.
Few would argue that music is basic to the human experience, and that at its best, it can unify, transform, and transcend. Accordingly, it is not only valuable to experience music but also to nurture the innate musical ability that every human possesses. In resource-limited environments, the prospect of musical development through the study of an instrument can be sparse. In particular, children in resource-poor rural settings may have little opportunity to discover the delight of expressing the inexpressible through a musical instrument. However, new means to realizing that joy, while simultaneously growing creativity, intellect, discipline, and perseverance, are emerging. In mid-2008, a unique relationship materialized between a student in the rural village of Macha in the Choma District of Zambia and a music educator in North America. Teacher and student connect via the Internet on a weekly basis, during which time piano lessons are conducted between the Minnesota-based studio and rural Zambia. Recent technological advances have made this type of learning feasible, and with encouraging results. By demonstrating a blend of real-time and time-shifted interaction, this paper will address both self-directed and facilitated modes of learning, and how a combination of these approaches can maximize the music education experience. In real-time exchanges, communication occurs through video-conferencing software (such as Skype) and Internet MIDI, an application that enables musical instruments (such as digital piano keyboards) to control, synchronize, and exchange data electronically through MIDI technology. To our knowledge, by participating in the beta testing of this software, we have been among the first in the world to have access to such long-distance MIDI connections. In essence, when a note is played on one keyboard, the remote partner keyboard sounds the same note instantaneously across the globe, making it possible to have a purely musical real-time conversation. This paper illustrates through video demonstration various uses of real-time learning including private teacher-student lessons, teacher-directed group lessons, and student-led peer-to-peer forums involving students from different geographic locations, which serve to broaden musical and cultural perspectives through verbal and musical dialogue. In time-shifted communication, videos are posted (by both student and teacher) in password-protected “albums” on websites such as Vimeo, providing a potentially larger audience than available in real-time (e.g. an entire community of children), concrete reference for new concepts, access to a greater variety of resources, opportunity for self-direction, and the added benefit of downloading videos to be viewed offline. The Internet offers a myriad of possibilities for exchanging musical expertise, and perhaps a new window into the preservation and affirmation of many multifaceted African musical traditions.
Repository Staff Only: item control page