Her home is 200 kilometers north-east of Alice Springs, and Imogen Cadzow has been learning to play the violin by Google-meeting with her teacher once a week.
Bec Cadzow said her daughter Imogen became a full-time student of the NEGS distance education program at the beginning of this term and now spends an hour a week on the computer with her teacher, NECOM’s Laura Curotta, learning to play the violin.
Once every term Imogen visits Armidale to have face-to-face lessons and we caught up with them at NECOM on Thursday.
“Imogen is the first student enrolled in the NEGS Distance Education and has been learning the violin for not even six-months. She’s doing brilliantly,” Bec said.
The Cadzow family live on a beef cattle property called “Mount Riddock” about 3000 kilometres to the north-west of Armidale, which certainly qualifies as “distance education”.
“Since the beginning of this year, Imogen has had the facilities to Google-meet, which is like a Skype,” Bec said.
She said Imogen will attend NEGS boarding school, along with her two sisters already enrolled there.
Laura Curotta said teaching violin online was not just about getting the sound right. There had to be a visual element because so much of violin was about posture and fine motor skills.
“You really need to have those one-on-one sessions where you can mould the hands and check that the bow is in the right place, the wrist, and that they’re standing correctly. You need a lot of visual,” Laura said.
It’s been challenging for a fresh beginner to learn in their first lesson how to tune their instrument.Laura Curotta
“Because of the difference in the weather and humidity, and the pressure, because they always travel by plane rather than drive, we’ve had to work out a few strategies of tuning. Get a few people on board at home who are getting better at tuning.”
Laura said Imogen was becoming really proficient at tuning her own instrument, a skill that most students did not learn until much later.
NECOM director Russell Bauer said while Imogen was further away than other students, the need for distance teaching was just as necessary elsewhere.
“We currently deliver lessons to Glen Innes, which is nowhere near the distance, but still it’s that isolation,” he said.
“Even if you’re only an hour away, there may not be that specialist clarinet teacher there, and that’s the case at the moment. So, we’re able to deliver clarinet lessons every Friday.
“It’s an area of musical education we’re looking to expand. The video conferencing here is very good and we don’t usually have any problems with the technical aspects of it.”