A New Format for Masterclasses

iphone6_spacegrey_side2-1There’s something very charming about serendipity, isn’t there? I spend a lot of time planning, organizing and goal-setting. And fairly often, I achieve my objective. But it’s especially fun to attain recognition at a time when I’m not even seeking it.

That was my experience when I read the latest installment of the Music Teacher’s Helper blog, “The iMasterclass—MTNA National Conference Las Vegas Part II”. It’s written by Yiyi Ku, an outstanding California teacher. She describes my masterclass for intermediate students at the MTNA Conference in Las Vegas, which took place on March 24, 2015.

I was trying an experiment utilizing technology. In general, I work hard to make my masterclasses informative: I want students and teachers both to come away with inspiration and fresh ideas, as well as the cognitive tools to make their own decisions. The danger, though, is that I spend too much time talking and not enough time interacting with the student.

So at MTNA I used a new technology called SlideDuet, which enabled me to put all the necessary facts on an application that attendees could view, free of charge, on their mobile device as the class unfolded in real time. When I spoke about the technique of ‘rotation’, for example, a brief explanation would appear on-screen, along with a diagram. I also included background notes on the works and composers, and biographical information about the performers. Here’s my actual SlideDuet presentation, so you can see for yourself.

Yiyi found my class “audience-engaging” and felt “fully drawn to what [was] happening on stage and inspired by the way Dr. Smith interacted with students.”  I appreciate her comments very much.

I’m looking forward to working some more with this exciting technology. I think I can get better at integrating the information with the live teaching. Since this was my first time, I succumbed to the temptation to include too much supporting material and the spontaneity of my teaching suffered a bit. My opinion, anyway!

Never mind. Teaching is all about continuous improvement and I plan on doing some with this cool and innovative teaching tool.

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