• Academic Technology

The Student View: Using Video To Enhance Teaching And Learning For Music Students

We recently shared a multi-camera video of University of Chichester MA Performance student Luke Hawkins playing the piano from a range of angles. We caught up with Luke to find out more about how he has been using Panopto to enhance his studies in music.



Tell us how you got started with video – were you using it before, or did your lecturer encourage you to try it out?

My lecturer, Professor Laura Ritchie, has been using video as part of our classes in a number of ways, so I became aware of Panopto through her. For instance, one of the things she uses Panopto for is to help us understand performance techniques on instruments that we don’t play ourselves. She would record things like close-ups of fingering techniques on the violin, providing us non-string players with an easy way to analyse performance. The videos were very useful for this, and it meant that, for example, when discussing Baroque or Romantic-era string playing, fellow classmates were able to visually demonstrate different bowing and vibrato techniques.

Professor Ritchie also recorded several videos of herself playing the cello, shot from multiple angles so that you could see various elements of her performance in greater depth. I was struck by the professional quality of recording and I quickly say how easily Panopto detected multiple cameras (and handled the usually tiresome process of getting everything set up), so I was eager to try it myself. I thought it would be helpful to see my own performance on the piano in a similar ‘multi-angle’ way, so I began to experiment with Panopto.

My experiences so far have been very positive and I think Panopto provides a valuable insight into different areas of my instrumental progress. It gives me the ability to examine technique, posture and performance practice both during and after playing, which I have found really enlightening. As my playing technique changes I’ve been able to document and analyse my development.

How have you found the process of recording your performance from multiple angles?

As Panopto automatically detects the cameras you’ve got plugged in, it has been consistently easy to get everything set up technology-wise (which is usually the most difficult part). This ‘plug-in and start recording’ characteristic of Panopto allows me to spend more time on different takes, or finding those ‘sweet spots’ for the camera angles, which I find to be the best part. As a creative mind, experimenting with different angles and lighting and multiple viewpoints is great fun and incredibly rewarding.

Have you found video useful in your development as a performer? If so, why?

Although I have a lot to learn, incorporating technology in my everyday practise is a necessary step to becoming a successful practitioner. Whether it is sampling, experimenting with keyboard sounds, mixing or recording, the roles and responsibilities of musicians worldwide are developing, with ever increasing demands for a vast and impressive skill set. Technology is an important part of the daily life of a modern musician; video is no exception.

I also think that video is a great tool for creative expression. Regularly recording oneself allows for analysis of technique and performance as well as providing a detailed documentation of progress.

A short 2-3 minute video recording of practise each day allows me to pick up on mistakes before they become a bad habit, or see that my progress, although small, is continual.

Another interesting aspect of recording myself with video has been observing my playing from an audience’s point of view. Although music is the player’s main medium for communication, posture, bodily expression and gesture are all important aspects of performance too. Video has allowed me to see which areas need development, or, in contrast, which techniques work well. Of course, it’s great for sharing with friends, family, and relatives.

In what other ways do you think academics and support staff can use video to improve the student learning experience in music?

I think video recording performance recitals would be a fantastic way to further active engagement in performances. This would also allow easier viewing of performance technique in larger lecture halls if the footage was shown on screens further back in the room.

Live streaming masterclass sessions with professionals from around the world would also be a great way to reach out to both students and the wider community.

What would you say to academics who don’t want to record their lectures or use video at all?

Lecturers face many pressures, and presenting oneself on camera is a skill that has to be developed. However, the ability for students to take notes from recordings afterwards or analyse their playing is invaluable. Creating a video trail of their teaching is also a wonderful tool for any practical subject. Lastly, video can be used to clearly and concisely demonstrate ideas as preparation for future lectures, or to consolidate unfinished discussion.

If you were your own lecturer, how would you use video with your students?

I would use Panopto to create a portfolio of performances for the students to analyse and use in coursework. In addition, they would have evidence of how much progress they have made, and which areas need more work. Recording students for immediate reflection is a useful tool, and can often remedy unknown habits, such as poor posture.