Sunday, February 7, 2010

The World Is Not Small

The original title of this articles was "the world is small", as in, the "world is getting smaller". However, as I began to write, I realized, quite the contrary, the world is not getting small, it is getting huge. The world I am talking about is my world, my 12x14 basement studio space. The dwelling place of my guitars, my recording gear, tunes, books, computer, and now, a web cam. This is the world where I spend many of my waking hours, sometimes long and lonely, working on my craft and attempt to conduct business.

You see, I just gave my first online video lesson by way of the videoconferencing application, Skype, to a new student who lives in New Jersey; a great guy and a perfect candidate for this new teaching venture. Online lessons are kind of becoming a 'thing'. Many world class guitarists are offering lessons through this medium, and, slowly, but surely, it seems to be taking off. Needless to say, I was pretty honored, given so many other (IMHO better) available options, I was sought out.

For years, the standard teaching routine is such that I go to the studio, students come and go according to schedule, quality face-to-face time, and done. Now, I can walk downstairs, login, and there is my student, right there, about 2 feet and 1200 miles away. Sure, I know videoconferencing technology has been around a while. We have had several family gatherings this way, but, this experience was different. This was my first tangible happening in terms of applying it to my business, allowing a stranger into my personal creative domain, and, it is nothing short of revelatory.

Of course, the standard, now traditional, teaching routine has forever been altered, and, with that, so has the methodology. When I first met this student, I couldn't shake his hand. We had to fumble a few steps getting the video and audio to synchronize. I couldn't play or evaluate his guitar or get a full read on body language and posture. I couldn't zero in on technical aspects with my usual scrutiny, and, several times, while going over the music, I caught myself pointing at the transcription, the one that was sitting on my desk, in front me. "Oh, yeah, he can't see that". I would literally catch myself pointing at the screen, a mad attempt to reach out to his fretboard, to help him navigate a fingering or two. It was odd. And fun. In the end though, we found our rhythm and got into a groove with the lesson, just as most lessons go, but it was a new groove and a new learning curve. Already, I have ideas on how to improve the experience next time.

After the lesson was over, I went upstairs to grab another cup of coffee and when I returned to the studio and resumed my work for the day, I couldn't shake the feeling that the student was somehow still there, but he wasn't. I would look up at the monitor, expecting him to ask me a question or two, but he was gone. Everything was shut down. I guess, in a way, I am not alone anymore.

Suddenly, I have a whole new world, in the global sense, of potential students. I get it now. As I catch wind of listeners from Finland, China, Spain, and so on, suddenly I have a whole new world of potential listeners as well. I get it now. This is the Web 2.0 experience that a friend of mine recently helped me understand. I get it now. It is wild and whacky stuff.

Yes, my world is definitely getting bigger, and oh, the possibilities...


  1. Congratulations on conducting a successful Skype lesson. This could go from wild and whacky to business as usual pretty quickly. :-)

  2. Ben, Glad to see you are blogging. It's an incredible drudge sometimes, but worth it if you can build up a readership. Count me among them :-)