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WED: Learning a musical instrument online - an experiment in learning to play an instrument using only OERs. (Sarah Sneddon)
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Sarah J Sneddon
13 January 2016
For many people, learning to play a musical instrument is a deeply-held ambition. Unfortunately, various barriers exclude some from realising this dream. These barriers include: geographical location, the lack of a suitable teacher, financial constraints, time constraints and specific learning difficulties. Many instrumental teachers do not accept that there is any possible substitute for face-to-face individual teaching. For the reasons listed above, however, this ‘ideal’ scenario is not open to all potential learners. In recent years Open Educational Resources, designed to teach an instrument, have become widely available. My project is an experiment in using OERs to learn to play a musical instrument and my presentation is an account of this experiment and its findings.
There has been limited previous examination of learning to play an instrument online. What has been done focuses on the establishment of communities of learners rather than the effectiveness and inclusiveness of the pedagogy. Equally, while there are many ethnographic studies about learning to play a musical instrument, these have not focused on using only open resources. This being the case, my presentation focuses on a question which has received limited up attention until now – can a student learn to play an instrument using only open, online resources and is this a way of making instrumental teaching more inclusive?
My experiment involved learning to play the lever harp. I began the experiment as a complete beginner on this instrument and set myself a time frame of eight weeks. Practice time was limited to twenty minutes a day and my only resources for learning were OERs. By imposing a narrow definition of OERs, I restricted myself to accessing only resources that cost nothing to use. The OERs included teaching videos posted on YouTube, harp makers’ websites, harp fora and websites which are repositories for free downloadable music. I engaged with both learners and teachers on the fora, both reading historical posts and starting new threads. Each of my practice sessions concluded with a brief video blog discussing what I was learning as well as documenting my thoughts about the inclusiveness of the material I was using. These videos will be edited to create a short documentary that aims to show both the benefits and disadvantages of this method of learning.
In my presentation, I will use PowerPoint with embedded video files and live performance to allow me to show how my playing has developed over the eight-week period. As the videos were created on a daily ad hoc basis, they capture the immediate response of a learner working with open resources. Using the experimental data I will explain, from the perspective of the learner, both the positives and negatives of learning an instrument in this way. Then, I will flip the discussion and consider, from my perspective as an instrumental teacher, what the experiment reveals about open educational resources and inclusion.
Link to my H818 Poster - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOZv9pzT4KM
Sarah J Sneddon
13:47 on 20 January 2016 (Edited 13:47 on 20 January 2016)