Monday, January 28, 2013

Ribbon in the Skype

Do you Skype?(By that, I mean USE Skype the software, but Skype is now a verb, wise guy.) If you don't, you are probably still living in 1996. Skype is a program which allows you to talk free WITH VIDEO to other Skype users through the internet. You can also make calls to land lines for incredibly cheap prices. If you have a good connection, it's almost like being there. (Make sure you are dressed before you answer a Skype, unless, well, it's THAT kind of party. Well, that's up to you, it's a free country.) I Skype my family often from the road so my son can see me(although he'll probably just keep playing with his BRIO trains and look up every now and then and say "Daddy, can you buy me more BRIO?"), or I use it to avoid astronomical cell phone charges. ( I think calling from Russia is about 58 Dollars a minute.) If you don't Skype, you should. Do you even have a computer? Come on!

As my regular readers know, I've been working with Jack DeJohnette's group. Because I live on the West Coast, and DeJohnette is so busy, it's hard to organize rehearsals. Before we did the Newport festival last summer, DeJohnette and I arranged to have a Skype rehearsal. He was in a hotel in the south of France, and I was in my office in Portland. The connection was so good, we were having really nice jam session.(Jack played his keyboard and I played bass. And no, this wasn't the configuration for the Newport gig…)

I had been hearing that some musicians had been teaching via Skype. I have to admit, I was a little……SKYPTICAL. ( Cue the rim shot.) But after that rehearsal, I figured that this sort of thing, while obviously somewhat lacking in the live human feel of a private music lesson, would save people so much time and money that those shortcomings would pale in comparison to the benefits. Think about it: I can teach anybody who has a computer in the comfort of my home, and they can study with me in the comfort of theirs! It's kind of a miracle.

I posted on Facebook that I was offering Skype lessons, and two students hit me up. Since I haven't been teaching private students that much at PSU, it felt great to connect one on one, especially with serious piano students. (Actually, the students I refer to are professional. Which makes it all the more an honor that professionals would seek me out for advice.) One of them had an audio glitch; however, I could still hear him play and it was really productive, in my view.

Since I already have a full time teaching position, I don't plan on spending a ton of time doing Skype lessons. However, I would like  folks to be aware if they so desire to try it.So hit me up with a private message on Facebook, or email  me through my website ( My Skype rates are affordable-especially considering the fact that you don't even need to leave your house! I think as audio, video, and internet quality improves, even the most SKYPTIC ( groan) of teachers will consider this method.

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