Music School Uses Technology To Bring Training To All

A local school is turning to technology to brings its lessons to a much wider audience. NY1’s Adam Balkin filed the following report.
Students at the Manhattan School of Music received a master class this month from Thomas Hampson, one of the nation’s top baritones. But what made this lesson so unique is that it was billed as the first live video streaming of a classical music event in an iPhone or iPod Touch.

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“This is a way of bringing the conversation between composers, performers, singers at a very high level to a much larger audience,” explains Robert Sirota of the Manhattan School of Music.

Those watching on their iPhones or touches were encouraged to email questions or comments to be read at the end of class. Among those watching were those from as far away as Latvia, Spain, and Wales.

Hampson says he’s hopeful this will lead to new avenues for reaching not just other musicians, but also the casual
music consumer.

“The public that wants to, you know, either go to this class they never got to go to or understand the music they never got to, they have an access point,” Hampson says. “They get to watch us work on the things we need to work on as young professionals and it ingratiates and enlivens their experience.”

The high quality of the live stream was the result of the Manhattan School of Music using something called Internet2, an entirely different Internet than the used by the average consumer. Internet2 is much less populated, much quicker, and reserved exclusively for universities and researchers.

“The technology is so good now that with earpods on your iPhone, you’re getting very, very high fidelity. You’re not getting this tinny little sound quality and you’re getting basically an HD image,” Sirota says. “So we can almost do these things on a regular basis, on a very high level in a way that’s not frustrating for a very sophisticated listener.”

The school says it will continue to look at new ways to use the technology. In the meantime though, it hopes this step into mobile streaming will encourage other schools, festivals, and arts organizations to follow suit in order to reach people wherever they happen to be.

NY 1 | By: Adam Balkin