Inventing the virtual
Wednesday, March 27, 2002
Zukerman is in Ottawa as he uses a super-high-speed Internet
to teach McGill student Véronique Mathieu in Montreal. The
new technology is being developed by McGill University.
There was violin virtuoso
Pinchas Zukerman, urging student VÈronique Mathieu to curl her fingers
and "envision the bow" in a master's class that brought together
the accomplished and the aspiring in their mutual love of music.
"Listen to your
sound, not your feeling," Zukerman instructed his apprentice, watching
and listening intently as Mathieu, 20, practiced her scales.
The interaction was
just what you would expect from a master and his student.
With one big difference:
Zukerman and Mathieu weren't in the same room.
They weren't even
in the same city.
Thanks to innovative
new technology being developed at McGill University, the two were connected
via the McGill Advanced Learnware Network - a video-conferencing system
that transmits audio and video so quickly over the Internet that Zukerman
can easily interrupt a student to offer pointers.
videoconferencing, which has a transmission delay, the McGill system uses
a special high-speed bandwidth system that represents the Web of tomorrow.
So from the National
Arts Centre in Ottawa, Zukerman was able to instruct Mathieu in Montreal
on a better way to hold her bow, tell her to release her thumb when she
shifts and show her some finger-strengthening exercises to practice.
The violin may date
back hundreds of years, but the wires and microphones attached to Mathieu
yesterday represent something brand new.
"This is how
the Internet will be used in the future," said John Roston, director
of McGill's Instructional Communications Centre.
Also involved in the
project are the engineering faculty and the Centre for Interdisciplinary
Research in Music, Media and Technology.
Most businesses will
have access to this high-speed bandwidth within five years, and McGill's
technology will affect not only education but the business world with
its high-quality videoconferencing capability, Roston said.
11, people just don't want to travel if they don't have to," he said.
The system, he said,
offers far superior sound and audio. The life-size image is shown on a
50-inch flat screen. "This gives more of a feeling that the person
is right in the room."
An enthusiastic Zukerman,
who is music director of the NAC Orchestra, told reporters in Montreal
and Ottawa that what they were seeing was nothing like TV.
"This is interactivity
- TV can't do that," he said. "This is extraordinary, incredible
technology we're looking at."
Andrew Beer, another
McGill music student who studied with Zukerman over the system, said it
seems very natural.
In fact, said the
20-year-old, he preferred it to being in the same room with the demanding
maestro. "That would make me even more nervous."
In the future, Roston
said, the technology might even allow a teacher to feel a student's violin
bow, or for music vibrations to be felt as though in a concert hall.
For Zukerman, who
loves to teach but doesn't have much time, it gives him the opportunity
to do something that conventional videoconferencing hasn't been able to
do: transmit audio and video with the quality and speed required to support
the nuances of one-on-one music instruction.
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© Copyright 2002 Montreal