That's what it costs annually to go to the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, according to collegedata.com. And if you play horn, Denise Tryon, former 4th horn in the Philadelphia Orchestra (ex Detroit Symphony, ex Baltimore Symphony), will be your horn professor.
So, you can audition and apply and pay over $60,000 to study with Denise. OR, you can subscribe to her new online service, Low Horns Unite! LHU is a subscription service and costs $9.97 per month.
$64,554 per year versus $120 year.
Of course, it's not the same education. You can hardly even compare the two, because a Peabody education includes tuition for a complete course of classes, room and board, books and supplies, and so forth, as well as top notch ensemble performance opportunities. What do you get with Low Horns Unite!?
WHAT YOU GET:
What you do get is the wisdom and experience of a world-class performer, monthly, and all for less than a single in-person lesson with most top notch performers.
Distance learning is not new in the music world. Although I cannot remember his name, a renowned bassoonist is known to have given what we now call distance learning lessons over the telephone. That's right. Over land line telephones, connected to a wall, without any visual cues, without good audio, and with high long-distance phone charges on top of the cost of lessons. But if you were a student in a remote area without any bassoon teachers you might have been willing to pay for those lessons.
Wendell Rider, Principal Horn of the San Jose Symphony, has been giving distance learning lessons for many years now, mainly over Skype. In fact, the ubiquitous use of the ostensibly free video phone service has given distance lessons a new moniker: Skype lessons. As an early adopter of the then-new internet technology Wendell had initial struggles with both hardware and software. Now, as the technology advances those struggles melt away, and the important stuff that was only hindered by distance learning - the knowledge and expertise - is now facilitated by the technology. Excellent audio and video compression, combined with amazing mobile technology, make Skype lessons more useful every day. To be sure, the technology is not perfect. But neither is it land line phones laid upon a nearby table while the student performs her etudes for the week.
As with most useful technology, for a new industry to flourish you need an intersection of two or more technologies to make it truly useful for the mass market. Consider the passenger airline industry. Planes were flying long before passengers were carried en masse. Large-scale passenger service was not feasible until powered flight, radio transmission, AND radar tracking all were in place. Only then did the industry flourish, because planes full of passengers could fly safely and in great numbers.
Distance music education is still finding its footing. The mobile phone and internet technology of today is a large step, because audio and video combine to simulate the in-person lesson experience. Denise Tryon's combined use of YouTube and Slack make her service less of an in-person lesson simulacrum, and more of a master class experience.
The holy grail of the online music experience is the real-time ensemble performance. We are not there, yet. Services such as MusikFusion attempt to get near that experience, stitching together canned accompaniment with solo recordings, but the usefulness and marketability of such services remains to be seen. The experience is not universally accepted as satisfying. The internet is truly an 'information superhighway', and as such has traffic jams. These create latency - the temporary delay of information transmission. And latency kills any hope of a seamless, in-room ensemble experience. It will take a further, as-yet-unknown or unproven technology that will eliminate latency to make the remote ensemble experience possible. And that means that teacher/pupil duets will have to wait.
For now, as the technology evolves and matures, we will have to content ourselves with incremental improvements in music education as a distance learning activity. Still, we are a far cry from long-distance land line phone lessons.
Dave and Chris are brass technicians who enjoy helping players get the most out of their playing experience.