News / Blog

Online Lessons: A How-To and Why-To

See the screenshot beside this story? It's a student project. What makes it more amazing is that it's not on the teacher's computer, but the student's. Live, online and in another country. Midtown Music School proudly demonstrates the future of music education, right now.

Midtown Music School has stated, since its inception, to use technology in a very real, tanglible way that can create educational opportunities never before possible. For proof, we'd like to share a story about how to have a lesson and maintain a student-teacher relationship when thousands of miles separate both people.

A long-time student, Leah, has been studying theory on and off with Midtown Music School teacher David Stone for a few years. Leah is an excellent student, but there's one problem getting in the way of regular instruction: Leah lives in Boston, studying music at the world-renowned Berklee College of Music.

David was thrilled with Leah's abilities and attitude as a student, but the commute was making lessons a bit difficult.

When settling on a new major - film composition - Leah had several assignments that, while she was doing well, felt she needed some extra instruction.

"I learned all my chords and harmony in the jazz program, but I feel like I'm missing some of the fundamentals of harmony, of function," she explained.

A little technology, mixed with a little know-how, has enabled David and Leah to continue working together on a regular basis. Both are thrilled with the ability to have a regular lesson that truly is almost as good as being in the same room.

Here's all that is required:

- two computers, equipped with webcams and a reasonably-fast Internet connection

- an online chat program such as Skype

Once both parties have exchanged contact information, it's as simple as making a phone call and being online at the same time. But that's just the beginning.

Most online chat programs allow users to Share Screen. This allows people to actually view, live and in real time, what's happening on the other person's screen. Better still, it allows both people to work together on a single desktop.

In David and Leah's case, Leah opens up her current composition project in Finale 2009 - a music notation program; think Microsoft Word for sheet music - and David can take control of the pointer, circle an area of interest, and even mark changes directly on the score while both can listen to the changes together, live.

It's an exciting first step towards the future of music education. While it doesn't replace the live interaction of teacher and student, in the case of David and Leah, it's a dynamic, interactive and feasible solution to a previously-unsolvable problem. Midtown Music School is proud to be on the forefront of this emerging field.

Dates: Recitals, Holidays and more

Below are some important dates in the Midtown Music School calendar. Be sure to take note!

RECITAL DATES

We are pleased to announce the student recital dates for the 2011-2012 school year!

Please mark these dates on your calendar:

Winter Recital: Sunday, January 29th at 11:00 a.m.

Spring/Summer Recital: Sunday June 10th at 11:00 a.m.

Both recitals will take place at the Women's Art Association Gallery, located at 23 Prince Arthur Avenue, near Bloor and Avenue Road. The cost is $10 per student.

We hope to see lots of friends, family and performers showing off what they have learned!

Click this link to View Map.

HOLIDAY DATES, WINTER 2011

We love our work, but even the best teachers need to recharge. But hey, it gives you more chances to practice!

We'll be closed from December 24 to January 8, 2012 (sounds so far away, doesn't it?). However, the phone and email boxes will be available anytime you have questions for us - we'll get back to you, we promise.

Also, for those of you wanting to play something in time for the holidays, some advice: start right now! By the time you have the piece down, it'll be time to bust it out over that sixth glass of egg nog. Besides, you might be the only one in tune at the time!

While we'll wish it more later, all the best for the upcoming season from Midtown Music School.

The Story of a Piano Room

The question I'm always asked is, "How on earth did you get that piano upstairs into that room?" The answer is a combination of a great community and brute force.

The first item of business was renovating the space. So, on a hot July morning (and afternoon, and evening, and night) an amazing team of folks came together to paint and patch the piano's future home.

It was an amazing undertaking, putting up three and four coats of paint on walls in a single day. Luckily, other people came to lend a hand as the hours rolled on. Armed with rollers and brushes, we worked tirelessly. Students who were scheduled to have lessons lent a hand long after they thought they would go home, but we were having too much fun.

And, of course, nobody's clothes were able to survive the paint onslaught.

A few days later, it was literally Christmas in July at Midtown Music School. The piano body comes wrapped in a blanket and foam, while the legs are attached afterward. 

It is then painstakingly carried up each flight of stairs by laying down a non-stick runner, grabbing straps and lots of loud grunting.

Once it was rolled into the room, the piano's legs get screwed and bolted on, the pedal mechanics are attached and then it gets carefully flipped onto its legs. At long last, it's time to open the present.

Like everything in life, the piano room came together with lots of hard work and lots of great help. A huge thank-you goes out to all those who pitched in!

Open House

On Saturday, August 27, Midtown Music School had its grand opening. With cake! 

It's been a long summer, filled with renovations, painting, moving instruments, building computers, designing programs and a lot more. To celebrate, Midtown Music School held its first open house. Students, parents and friends stopped by for a look at the new facilities, register for the fall and, as mentioned, enjoy some delicious cake. If you missed it, there will be plenty of other opportunities to come and meet the MTMS community. We hope to see you soon!

Welcome to Midtown Music School

Welcome to Midtown Music School! We're glad you found us, and look forward to spending the next several decades being an important part of the musical community. Although you can read more on the About Us page, I wanted to take an opportunity to welcome you to our school, and why there's nowhere else like it. Speaking to many people throughout my years as a teacher, many people experienced music very differently from the way I did: learning by rote, memorization and regurgitation. It was very disheartening to hear about how so many people get discouraged and ultimately stop trying altogether. This is the founding principle of Midtown Music School: "Making Music Make Sense." The first half, Making Music, is obvious; I want to see as many people as possible making music. I can think of no other universal activity that people can do as individuals and as a group that carries so many benefits to all aspects of our lives. Making Sense, though, is a bit different. What I wanted to see is a place where people can try to figure out what music means to them. No two people are alike, so no single solution, program or curriculum can apply to every student. That's why I wanted to surround myself with teachers who can give any student what they need to succeed. When I say we give you more than what's on the page, I mean it. For example, in a theory class, rather than simply explain how to get a great mark on a theory exam (our students end up with those too!), I will go into the *why* of musical elements. Do you know why those symbols are called clefs, or why they're drawn that way? These are things that shouldn't be taken for granted, but are almost every lesson. Except here. Finally, I want students to enjoy themselves. While we take great pride in providing top-quality, professional lessons, we're all here for (hopefully) the same reason you are: to have a good time. Music is, at its core, something to be enjoyed, experienced and treasured. If you agree with this, I think you'll find Midtown Music School the right music school for you and your family. I'm always happy to hear from people with suggestions, comments, criticisms or kudos. Feel free to call or email us. Without you, our community, we wouldn't even be here. I hope to hear what you can create. Musically yours, David Stone Director, Midtown Music School