Friday, June 19, 2009

Using iPods to teach Cello

I teach cello lessons on the side. I do it because I love it. My job by day is to train employees how to do their jobs better. Sometimes, what I read or think about during my daily work kind of sparks ideas of how to motivate and get my cello students to perform better. I specifically deal alot with using technology to help people learn and how to we can support better performance.

I attended a conference session at eLearning DevCon 2009 by Thor Anderson of UVU where he talked about the importance of giving feedback to students in real time and that they crave this feedback to make sure they learning correctly. He has an excellent example teaching HTML using learning components that he built in Adobe Flex. Check out his great work at

Anyways, this concept of feedback got me thinking about how I can use technology to help my cello students to learn better. Especially to have good intonation.

Here is the idea that came to me while I was teaching a lesson.
  • Have the student use an iPod while they are practicing to listen what the song should sound like.
  • Record a slow, medium and fast version of the solo line of each song.
  • Record a slow, medium and fast version of the cello accompaniment for each song
  • Record a slow, medium and fast version of the piano accompaniment for each song.
While it would take quite a bit of work for all the suzuki books, this would be really helpful for students in the first two and maybe three suzuki books. The student could then listen to the accompaniment or the solo line and play along. While this may seem like a lot of work, I think it could help students. Maybe you add another version that has changing dynamics.

What do you think? What ways do you use technology in your music teaching?