The future is upon us, friends. So maybe we haven’t colonized the moon or perfected the flying car–yet–but still, you have to admit it’s an incredible time to be alive. The fact that you can read this very post while simultaneously listening to a Beegees-themed radio station, checking your email, and downloading an app that tracks your bowel movements on the same device is both astounding and more than a little troubling.
Technology has accomplished more than just streamlining your poo journal, though. This explosion of new gadgets and lightning fast communication has lead to advancements in various fields: medicine, fitness, business, and–believe it or not–music education. And I’m not just talking about the robot music teacher I’m building.
Zenph Technology has recently begun the testing phase for the ZOEN (Zenph Online Education Network). It’s a new resource designed to promote and facilitate online music lessons. *Disclaimer: the concept of online lessons itself isn’t a new thing; several teachers have successfully managed their studios online using Skype and other video chat programs for years now. The ZOEN aims to create a new platform for the growing community of online music education that will help instructors and students find one another and equip them with the proper tools to get the most out of lessons.
One of my favorite things about this concept is how easy it is to find a new teacher. No more sketchy Craigslist ads to root through; all ZOEN teachers have already passed a background check and posted extensive profiles detailing their experience, teaching philosophies, genres taught, etc. It’s simpler than ever to browse for someone with just the right personality, schedule and skills, and you can even schedule a face to face interview and (usually) a trial lesson before you have to pay a dime.
If the convenience of in-home lessons from dozens of qualified teachers at your beck and call doesn’t sell you, think about some of the other huge perks: you can keep learning from your favorite teacher who moves three time zones away, find a replacement when your regular teacher takes time off, or continue lessons when you or your teacher are sick or on vacation.
It gets even better for teachers. First of all, say hello to the international market! Those hard-to-fill mornings hours are prime time in Europe and Asia. We still set our own prices, choose our students, and determine our own schedules. You don’t even have to wear pants!
As promising as this all sounds, there are still limitations and concerns. It will likely be more difficult to keep an eye on a student’s posture and technique. Teachers will need a copy of the student’s music and will have to be extra alert when the student is playing to ensure accuracy. On the other hand, there may be a few silver linings in these obstacles. ZOEN producer Phil Amalong contends that learning on a screen may be more of an advantage than you might think. I have a hunch that, ultimately, the quality of education depends on the quality of the teacher and the determination of the student as it always has.
I say “hunch” because, sadly, I’m still a complete noob at this online teaching thing. Most of my energy has gone into my studio and have only had my ZOEN profile active for about a month or so, but no lessons just yet…which is why I need guinea pigs. If you have a keyboard or piano, a computer with a webcam, a decent internet connection, and a desire to rock out, hit me up in the ZOEN. Naturally, you can try it out free of cost and obligation. I’ll even help you get everything set up.
I don’t blame you if you have your doubts. I’d be lying if I said I was 100% certain this is going to work. I believe this is a good idea, though, and a bold attempt at a potential game-changer, which is why I hope you’re willing to give it a little trial and error. We’re on the edge of a vast new frontier at the intersection of music, education and technology; we owe it to ourselves to explore it.