Online Speed Lessons: A Leg Up on the Competition

November 16, 2011

More Information:
For Media Only: Helene Snihur (585-274-1057,
For The Public: Institute for Music Leadership (585) 274-1113

ROCHESTER, N.Y.– Wondering how to interpret the flute solo in Ravel’s Bolero? Or not sure about the tempo for the second trombone in Mahler’s Symphony No. 5?

The Eastman School of Music’s Institute for Music Leadership today unveiled online Speed Lessons, designed to help students gain insights into the orchestral repertoire for their instrument. In addition to receiving instruction from their teacher, students can go to the web and purchase a downloadable lesson taught by an Eastman professor.

“It’s the 21st-century way to present musical material, our version of ‘tech transfer,’” said Ramon Ricker, Institute Director and Senior Associate Dean for Professional Studies at Eastman. “We’re using technology to ‘transfer’ the knowledge and expertise of Eastman faculty and give students in-depth insights into musical works. The teachers share invaluable advice based on their years of experience as performers and teachers.”

Speed lessons have been created for five instruments and feature artist faculty members Bonita Boyd, flute; Michael Burritt, percussion; Kenneth Grant, clarinet; Mark Kellogg, trombone; and Peter Kurau, horn.

More than 100 lessons are available at Each focuses on the performance of a single instrument in a major orchestral work.  In the lesson, faculty members work with one of their own students, reacting to and offering suggestions on the student’s playing. They discuss the instrumental parts in the context of the entire work and explain the challenges that can occur in actual performance.  They share tips about orchestra auditions, explaining the interpretive nuances for which committees listen. The lessons are also valuable for students who simply want to become more familiar with the musical pieces.

Each Speed Lesson includes a 20-to-45-minute video of the teacher working with his or her student and the sheet music for the instrumental part. The cost of the lesson is based on the length of the video. Once purchased and downloaded, the lessons do not expire and can be viewed repeatedly.

Besides computers, Speed Lessons can be viewed on iPhone, iPads, and Android mobile devices and smartphones, making it possible to take lessons in a campus practice room or at home at any convenient time. The lessons can be watched with any program compatible with mp4 files, such as iTunes, Windows Media Player, QuickTime Player, and RealPlayer.

Students looking for a particular piece can search for it by professor, composer, or instrument. The lessons include orchestral works by Bach, Brahms, Bizet, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, Mahler, Mozart, Berlioz, Rossini, Saint-Saens, Tchaikovsky, Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky, Ravel, Puccini, Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, and others.

“If we get the positive response that we hope for, we will expand our reach by adding additional instruments and repertoire. Some members of our voice faculty are very interested in offering lessons on opera arias and art song,” said Ricker.

Speed Lessons are the second electronically delivered course that has been developed by the Institute for Music Leadership. In June 2009, the Institute started E-Theory to help its incoming freshman students prepare for theory placement exams; 35 students signed up for the online  course that year. E-Theory became available to non-Eastman students the second year it was offered; during the 2010-2011 academic year, more than 230 students from across the country and Canada took the E-Theory course, from such institutions as the University of Western Ontario, University of Toronto, University of Maryland, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Michigan State University, Rutgers University, Concordia College, Texas A&M, San Francisco State, and many others.

About the Eastman School of Music:

The Eastman School of Music (, located in Rochester, N.Y., is one of the nation’s leading and top ranked music schools, educating 500 undergraduate and 400 graduate students annually in performance, composition, jazz studies and contemporary media, music education, theory, conducting, and musicology.

The Eastman School was established in 1921 by George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company, as the first professional school of the University of Rochester. The School’s faculty members include Grammy winners, Guggenheim Fellows, ASCAP Award recipients, and recording artists. Eastman’s prominent alumni include opera singers Renée Fleming, Anthony Dean Griffey, Joyce Castle, and the late William Warfield; jazz musicians Ron Carter, Steve Gadd, and Chuck Mangione; composer-conductor Maria Schneider; and composers Dominick Argento, Charles Strouse, Michael Torke, and Jeff Beal.

 # # #

Comments are closed.