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MT | DISTANCE LEARNING Teaching studio: Minimal technology is required LEARNING FROM THE BEST? Top players are increasingly using distance learning technology to squeeze teaching into already packed diaries. But where does this fit into a learner’s broader development, and what about traditional teachers? Rhian Jones profiles two new companies entering the expanding market T he rise in popularity of online video websites in the past decade has been stratospheric, with YouTube boasting 1 billion monthly users since launching only ten years ago. YouTube is not the only development: Skype, launched in 2003, can now boast anything up to 80 million concurrent users. And there are a number of music teaching companies capitalising on the trend, offering music teachers and players a way to connect with new audiences from the comfort of their own living room. All you need is a webcam, an HDMI cable and a decent internet connection. Officially launched at the end of April, Musical Orbit was founded to give musicians a way of reaching students whenever they have a spare few hours. As founder Nicole Wilson says: ‘It’s about using a musician’s time better so that people can arrange a slot with 24 MUSIC TEACHER | AUGUST 2015 someone really great when preparing for an exam, audition, or concert, wherever the students are in the world and wherever the teachers are. ‘We’ve had all sorts of people asking for lessons, including music teachers who just want a top-up lesson for themselves: maybe they’ve got a difficult piece that they are teaching someone else and want an expert opinion on it. We’ve also had amateur musicians who have taken up playing again because they are able to have a lesson when their children are asleep.’ The idea came while Wilson, a freelancing former London Symphony Orchestra and English National Opera violinist and teacher at the Royal Academy of Music’s junior academy, had several people approach her who’d just left college and wanted help with audition technique. Living in central London there weren’t that many she Nicole Wilson, founder of Musical Orbit could assist, and after a desperate call from someone who needed an expert opinion, Wilson suggested they do it online. They found that online video service Zoom worked remarkably well. ‘It’s very easy to connect to – you just click on a link and you’re there. The connection also seems a lot better than other services like Skype, which is very important,’ she explains. Today, Musical Orbit has around 100 teachers on board, including Alison Teale, principal cor anglais player with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Teale spends around four to five hours a month teaching online, alongside her role as an oboe professor at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. ‘I’m often on tours and waste a lot of time sitting in a hotel room not knowing what to do. This way, there are a lot of students who don’t even live in London and want the contact of a regular teacher or masterclass. It seems like a plus for both sides – I can be contacted anywhere around the world and I can be anywhere they are as well,’ she says. Also sharing his expertise with the world online is Irish virtuoso flautist Sir James Galway. He and his wife, Lady Jeanne Galway, have made a business out of their online video learning programme for flute students of all