fbpx

Category Archives for Music

The Video Platform for a Virtual Music Festival

Setting up WeVu for a Virtual Music Festival

WeVu is a media-hosting platform that can be used for virtual music festivals with asynchronous submissions of video recordings. 

WeVu’s characteristics and features make it ideal for an online, asynchronous music festival.

  • Administrator, adjudicator, and entrant roles in the system
  • Time-specific comments by the adjudicators
  • Unlimited sites and users
  • Source-quality audio – no compression or downsampling
  • PDF scores can be uploaded so that they can be found by adjudicators along with the videos and downloaded for viewing in a separate window while the video is playing.


WeVu is flexible. But it is not built exactly like a file storage system with folders. Think of it more like educational software built so teachers and students can be in a closed space together to share and comment on audio, video, images, and pdfs. Each WeVu site can be set to allow or not allow students to share files with each other and comment on them. And within each site, any file can be available to everyone, or only between teacher and student (a WeVu ‘Assignment’), or placed into a Playlist for organization.

Think of the WeVu organizational hierarchy like this:

Instance >> Site >> Playlist or Assignment >> Videos

For Music Festivals with a dedicated private instance, there are decisions to be made about whether to create separate WeVu sites for different categories of entrants, different adjudicators, or different instruments or age/level groups. Each site stands alone within your WeVu instance, but festival entrants and adjudicators can be affiliated with multiple sites. So an entrant could be in both a violin and a cello/bass site, while an adjudicator could be affiliated with all the woodwinds sites for the different age or competition categories. Within each site you may want to have separate Assignment boxes for each ‘class’ to which entrants register and to which they will upload their videos. Then, if there is a public-access aspect to the festival, you may want to make certain videos public or create separate sites that house the videos that are being made public (copies of the original recording that has the adjudicator’s comments, but with those comments removed when the copy is made.)

So, for example, your organizational hierarchy might be:

The Festival’s WeVu Instance >> Junior Piano >> Grade 1 Piano >> All Grade 1 Entrants’ Videos

What follows assumes that you want entrants to only be able to ‘share’ their upload with the adjudicator, rather than it being visible to all entrants. (If you want it to be more public, we can set this up with you).

Our recommendation is that you create sites for each adjudicator but name those sites with the categories or sections that the adjudicator is responsible for – like “Junior Piano” or “Woodwinds”. Then that adjudicator knows that she is responsible for all the entry videos in that site.

Within each (adjudicator’s or section) site you can define as many WeVu Assignments as you wish to correspond to different classes.

The User Experience

Set up this way, the experience for users will be:

For Administrators:

  • Create separate WeVu sites for each section or adjudicator (e.g. Brass or Sarah Gill)
  • Each of these sites will have a unique invite link to send to the adjudicator and another to provide to entrants. Using those links to create an account (or login after creating an account) will attach that user to the applicable site.
  • Keep a spreadsheet with a list of these site names and the two links.
  • Provide the appropriate site link to entrants after they have chosen the class they’re entering.
    (Entrants entering more than one class in one section/adjudicator’s site only need the one link, once).
  • Assist as necessary with entrant/parent uploads and move files from one class to another if necessary.

For Adjudicators:

  • Receive your email with the owner/instructor-role link for their site.
  • Create an account from that link. (From then on, log in at your instance’s URL, which will be of the form: https://app.wevu.video/[festivalname])
  • When videos are uploaded by entrants, the adjudicator will receive an email. (We can turn this off if you don’t want this.)
  • Watch the performances one by one and make time-specific comments and a general final summative comment.
  • Keep a separate sheet with the marks to provide to the festival administrators for ranking and awards.

For Entrants and their Parents:

  • Get the account creation link from the festival, either by email or after clicking through on the Festival website once a class has been seleted and registration fee paid.
  • Record the video, following recommendations from WeVu and the festival to maximize audio quality but minimize file size.
  • Create a WeVu account and log in, which puts the entrant into the appropriate site.
  • Go to the upload screen from the left menu, choose the appropriate class (Assignment in WeVu terminology), find the file on the device, and upload.
  • After the adjudication has happened, entrants can log in again to read the comments from the adjudicator and for each comment replay their video from the exact moment at which the comment was made.

We would be happy to do a call with you to discuss your needs. Please email [email protected] with your inquiries.


Of course, we think WeVu is your best bet for a virtual, asynchronous music festival. 

Better than Zoom for Music Lessons: Complement live teaching with asychronous recordings from students

More students, less of your time.

If you’re a private music teacher, you need to keep your business going during the pandemic and make it sustainable for when this is over.  In this article we give you some tips on how to add online components to your business that actually let you teach more students in less time. That means a better bottom line for your teaching business, even after things go back to normal. Here’s how it can work. But first, here's what Cindy Moyer said about the combination of live (Zoom) lessons and not-live feedback on her students' self-recordings.

Teaching Music Online with WeVu

WeVu has made quality online violin “lessons” possible. My students upload videos to WeVu. I then leave WeVu comments. After the student has had time to look over the comments, we meet up via Zoom for 10 - 30 minutes to discuss whatever couldn’t be addressed by my WeVu comments. I was thrilled that WeVu solved the Zoom problems of terrible tone quality, a constantly-freezing stream, and sound that doesn’t align with the motion. However, my students and I have quickly discovered other advantages: having to make recordings has proven to be motivational for practice and being able to see and hear exactly what I’m talking about has helped students understand what they need to change.

I heartily recommend WeVu for people teaching online music lessons.


Here are five steps and tools to boost your teaching revenue – and student progress.

There are five steps and they're for teachers with various kinds of music teaching jobs. Lots of folks have already been doing four of them. It’s number five that’s a new idea and the key to the benefits you’ll see.

The key is asynchronous video.

Synchronous teaching over Zoom or Skype is OK but it’s limited. Here’s what one teacher said in a comment on an asynchronous (student-uploaded) video in WeVu. (It’s a bit harsh, but surely now the student will play the phrase over and over and fix that note!)

“This should be a B not a B-flat.  We've corrected this a number of times, but it isn’t sticking yet. You must not have listened enough, one phrase at a time and then played just those few surrounding measures at least 10 times. Have you?  Clearly fixing it a couple of times in our Skype session was not enough to resolve this.  You simply must use practice strategies that will fix errors.”

This teacher was able to deliver the feedback asynchronously, which gives it a better chance of having an impact, according to this long article on giving and receiving feedback. The key thing is that when feedback is delivered as text alongside the exact moment in the video where the student makes a mistake, the student says “OK, I get it, I really was doing that.” And because the student doesn’t hear it in person they don’t have that automatic resistance that we all have to criticism. It’s easier to benefit from it because there’s some distance between the event and the feedback. Students can even reflect first on their own performance, like this one.

Vocal Performance With WeVu

You can easily add asynchronous teaching to your toolbox. That’s the secret – step 5 below (jump to it here).

Five Good Practices for Music Teachers During Covid-19

1. Start by letting your students know you’re there for them

You’re doing this, of course, but we don’t think it’s possible to overdo it, so keep it up.  

Most music learners (and parents) will really want to maintain the same lesson schedule as they had before. If that’s possible, great. But you may be able to actually reduce the contact time over Skype or Zoom but increase the time they practice and the feedback you’re able to give them. That’s what we get to in tip number five.

2. Temporarily drop your price by 10-15% if you can. 

For some families where you know they’ve been financially impacted you might even drop the price further. No, this is not crazy. You’ll more than make up for it in a bunch of ways. And you’ll be able to bring it back up again when the crisis is over.

Your students’ and their families will really appreciate the gesture if you say that you’re doing it because your costs are slightly lower without having to host students in your home or travel to theirs.

You’ll increase student loyalty and, more importantly, referrals. You want your students and families to be telling their friends that “our music teacher dropped her price by 10% because she’s aware of the financial challenges that are coming for some families.”

You will probably be able to actually charge your average student a bit more, or spend less time, by gradually using this opportunity to introduce more asynchronous teaching. 

You’re going to pick up more remote students from further away.

3.  Get the best, most comfortable technology for connecting with your students in real time.

Choose Zoom or Skype or Facetime or Google Duo.

  1. Zoom might be best because your students don’t need accounts – you just email them a link. The connection is really reliable. I’m sure you’re using it already. One extra benefit is you can record sessions and upload to WeVu (see below). Zoom probably has the best settings for music quality, as we mention below.
  2. Skype was down but it’s coming back. Your students need a Microsoft Skype account, but after that it’s as easy as a phone call.
  3. Google Duo is good because everyone has a google account.

Sound quality. You need to be able to hear tone. Apple products are pretty good with onboard microphones, but Windows and Android devices are usually terrible. You probably already know that a condenser microphone is much, much better. We think the best deal for you to recommend to your students is a USB Condenser mic from FFINE. Under $50.  If you’re using Zoom, look at this video from Phil Gervasi showing how to set it up for best audio quality.

Use headphones so you don’t get the audio feeding back to the student. Most of the videoconferencing technology is pretty good now with this, but you’ll probably concentrate better with headphones. (Unless you’re playing yourself and need to hear yourself demonstrate!)

Lighting. Make sure your students have got some help setting up their camera (and microphone) so that you can see them clearly. Lighting is actually pretty important.

Practice. Build in at least 10 minutes at the start of your first lesson with each student to get comfortable and fix any issues with the technology.

Check out other guides from David Taylor, and some great tips and a whole course from Carly Walton at TeachMusic.Online and this resource from Texas Tech University.

4. If you can, do a practice lesson or two so you can get comfortable with some of the differences from in-person lessons.


Referring to the music is harder. You can’t point! If you have a moveable webcam, you could point it at the music and then point. But mostly you’ll have to refer to it in other ways that your students can understand. It might take a bit of extra teaching of how you’ll be referring to pages and bars on the music.

Demonstrating and referring to positions on the instrument or technical moves is harder. See if you can set up your camera to comfortably speak toward it and have your own playing visible too.

Check for ‘latency’ – which basically means delay. You and your students may need to get closer to their wifi access points or routers.

5. Add asynchronous teaching to your toolbox using a platform like WeVu. 


This is NOT more work. In fact, students will practice more and they’ll take your feedback in a new, complementary way. It’ll boost their progress without you spending more live time with them.

"Instead of synchronous lessons, I would recommend creating a system where students upload audio or video assignments and you provide feedback (aka asynchronous teaching). This allows the students to record and upload material when it is most convenient for them (and whomever they are living with), and also gives teachers the same flexibility.  -- Genevieve Clarkson, Professor of Tuba and Euphonium, Oklahoma City University

With the right video platform you’ll have students self-record their practice so you can give them specific feedback right at the points where they need the feedback. There are video tools being used in college music schools that where students upload and those uploads are private between teacher and student. Private teachers can use the same tools. You go to a student’s hand-in box, choose their latest upload, and then watch and listen. Teachers stop the video when they want to leave feedback and it’s placed right there. The feedback can be text, audio, or video! Students can really digest the feedback and play over and over from that spot so they can see and hear what you’re talking about.

Maybe get students to upload twice a week. You can go through a student video fairly quickly and leave quality feedback with what they should work on. For most teachers it takes less time overall than delivering the same instruction in person. Then when you do a live lesson, you and the students know exactly what is being worked on.

Tips for asynchronous music teaching:

  1. Keep the recordings pretty short. It’s easier to upload and easier for the student to focus on those little improvements that make such a difference to their playing and singing.
  2. Have the student do the same piece two or three times in a row in the recording. That’s a big boost that you might not have the time to do in a live online lesson.
  3. Then after you’ve given the feedback, a student can actually re-record as a reply to your comment. Students can play a few measures repeatedly as a reply to your feedback comment.
  4. Use a first comment on a student’s video to encourage and to make clear the overall areas you’re working on.
  5. Then use the General Comments area for a plan for the student’s next few practice sessions and into the next live lesson.

Go ahead and sign up for a WeVu site (there are lots of music use cases for a tool like this). It costs you nothing and you can try it with students for a month. Then you’ll pay only a few dollars per student per month. Students can pay for an annual license in your site.

Summary - Our Five Tips for Music Instructors

  1. Take more care with communicating with students and families. Of course you’re already doing that.
  2. Temporarily drop your lesson fees if you can afford it.
  3. Take the time to choose the best synchronous technology for live teaching.
  4. Practice with that technology.
  5. Get a cloud video tool that lets students upload privately and lets you give time-specific feedback.

Next-Generation Video Tools for Music Instruction

Video recordings have been an important tool in music education for a long time. But now, video-based practice and feedback, sewn tightly together, are becoming a vital part of applied music instruction and learning. There are a variety of reasons why hearing and seeing oneself perform daily can make a big difference in musicians’ development. And there’s the practical side too: video-practice using the right technology allows teachers to teach with detailed feedback even when student and teacher aren’t in the same place at the same time!

Video for Self-reflection and Self-critique

  1. Recording Improves Musicianship

Recording yourself allows you to listen to your performance from the impartial perspective or standpoint of an audience member, critic or teacher. Whether you record a single phrase in a practice room or a full-length concert performance, recording allows you to stand back and listen as if it were somebody else’s performance, gaining insights you never could otherwise. As musicians we can then refine and improve our sound to align with our gathered insights. You listen to how musical your playing is – are you being as dynamic and tasteful as you could be? Is your approach appropriate for the genre or style? Recording sharpens your musicianship so that you can gauge every facet of your playing or singing with an impartial ear.

  1. You Sound Different Than You Think

Just as anyone who has recorded themselves on video before has noticed, the actual tone of voice or instrument that others hear is very different than what you hear in your own head. This is especially important for vocalists as their self-perceived tone differs more dramatically from what their audiences hear. Recording yourself allows you to understand how you actually sound to listeners which is essential for delivering a excellent performance! Greg Foot explains this in a great video.

  1. Performance Practice Makes Perfect

In addition to listening to the recording, seeing yourself on camera is great for performance practice as it is very important to see what you look like while singing or playing your instrument. Do you sit properly? Is your back straight? How is your bowing technique? Are there any bad habits you should be working on? During playback, you can then make those critical judgment calls, hear weaknesses, and more clearly hear how close your actual playing is compared to where you think you should be. Fixing these small technical imperfections will work wonders for improving your tone, confidence, and stamina.

All in all, the ability to reflect on one’s own playing and take action based on reviewing playback is a huge leap in a musician’s development.  The more we can do to foster clarity of musical concepts within ourselves, the more consistent musicians we become, and the more joy we can produce when we play.

Video for Feedback!

Video recording becomes all the more useful for a student when the players and teachers can have a dialogue around the recording even when they’re not in the same place at the same time.  Web applications for audio and video sharing like WeVu.video, made for private sharing and pinpoint feedback, make this possible. As a student of music, you need someone at a higher level to push you past your current abilities; a teacher or mentor who listens and identifies what you can do to improve. Moreover, as many academic studies have suggested, instrumental music teachers should not only concentrate on instruction, but also give appropriately weighted and timed criticism and praise. Teacher approval and disapproval have a considerable effect on students’ motivation to study music, especially if given consistently. If a low-cost, private, efficient video web application can supplement face-to-face instruction, musicians can make progress faster and more effectively. They’ll know exactly the things they need to work on without having to wait for the next in-person session with an instructor. Thesedays, with this kind of web software for sharing and feedback, all the student needs to record herself is a phone!

Drs. Robert Taylor and Jonathan Girard, Professors and Band/Orchestra Directors at the prestigious UBC School of Music, have been leaders in using video software like WeVu to great success. As Dr. Taylor emphasized, these video tools are timely and ensure that none of the advice students receive are forgotten. When asked whether he had any advice for instructors hoping to implement this in their course, Taylor is very enthusiastic:  “Jump right into it! This tool had an incredibly positive effect on my classes and it’s revolutionized the School of Music admission process. There isn’t a lot to worry about in terms of student reception, because they actually find it way more intuitive than we do thanks to all the different technologies they use on an everyday basis. This kind of tool is very powerful and will deliver.”

Step by Step Guide to cheap, effective video auditions for music and voice – Part 2

In this two part series, I provide a guide that helps you do an effective video audition for post-secondary music programs, on a budget. I’ll dive in to the differences in sound quality between premium recording equipment, dirt cheap audio recording, and the mic that’s on your iPhone. You will be guided through the step by step procedures of how to set up this equipment, buy or borrow it cheaply, and edit it quickly with great results.

Part 2: Video Best Practices and Audio-Video Synchronization 

In this two part series, we guide you to do an effective video audition for post secondary music programs, on a budget. We’ll dive in to the differences in sound quality between premium recording equipment, dirt cheap audio recording, and the mic that’s on your iPhone. You will be guided through the step by step procedures of how to set up this equipment, buy it cheaply, and edit it with speed.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to record your audio and video simultaneously through separate equipment. We’ll show you how to set up and record various audio equipment (Part One) and how to maximize your phone’s video camera (Part Two).

THINGS YOU WILL NEED

iPhone (or Android, or whatever other device you have for video).

Clean Room With a Window

Clutter will look unprofessional and could affect the room’s acoustics, colouring your tone in unpleasant ways.

Natural light beats artificial light when you’re on a shoestring budget so try to shoot in a room with a window.

Lamps and/or Daylight

Try to choose only white or yellow light and avoid blue light sources. When combined with daylight, white and/or yellow lights can give off a very professional and pleasant look.

Try to stagger your light sources height and length wise. For instance, combine your window with a lamp on a desk and a flood light on the floor.

Face towards your light sources and have the camera face away from them. You never want light coming from behind you in these videos.

Gig-Appropriate Attire

Most music schools require you to wear a full black suit to performances so dress business casual at least.

Something to Hold your Phone

Under no circumstances should you have another person holding your phone or even a good camera. The device MUST be stable. Everyone should have a mini flexible tripod for their phone, especially musicians. Here’s the Amazon.com search for “phone tripod”. They’re not indestructable, but they’re pretty good value for 12 dollars!

If you have a good camera and a real tripod, that’s a great alternative to the phone for the video.

Combining your Audio and Video

You’ve already read about how to get good quality audio recordings on the cheap in Part 1 of this series.

Import your audio and video both to iMovie. Leave the volume on your video untouched for the time being.

Line up the wavelengths from your video audio and your exported mp3/WAV audio that you recorded using your DAW. You’re basically just matching the pictures of the sound here so that they’re in sync.

Slide down your the video’s audio until it’s muted.

Watch through the whole video to see that your video is perfectly lined up with the audio from your DAW.

Finally, export your video as MP4 or .MOV to 720p or 1080p if possible. Some newer phones shoot in 4k- this won’t make your performance better and will make it exponentially longer to export.

Then, if you want to share your video in a secure way for others to comment on, sign up for your own private audition video hosting site at WeVu.video!

Click here for part 1 of this series to learn best practices on recording audio

We’re working on part 3, where we will compare the audio fidelity of cheap, mid-level, and premium recording setups.

Step by Step Guide to cheap, effective video auditions for music and voice – Part 1

In this two part series, I provide a guide that helps you do an effective video audition for post-secondary music programs, on a budget. I’ll dive in to the differences in sound quality between premium recording equipment, dirt cheap audio recording, and the mic that’s on your iPhone. You will be guided through the step by step procedures of how to set up this equipment, buy or borrow it cheaply, and edit it quickly with great results.

Part 1: Overview & Audio

Recording video auditions can be a super stressful affair for senior students. The seemingly endless array of options when it comes to recordifng equipment or the uncertainty of whether or not your recording is of a high enough fidelity adds a lot of unnecessary stress. To address this, I’ll be going through exactly what equipment you’ll need, where to find it affordably, and how to shoot and edit your audition. At the end, I’ll be comparing the audio fidelity of a premium Shure SM7 mic, a cheap SM58 mic, and an iPhone mic as they record the same audition. Finally, I’ll point you to a free service that you can use to share your audition with the schools you apply to.

This is by no means a totally comprehensive guide to audio recording; instead, it’s a quick and dirty guide to getting your audition together on a budget.

AUDIO

THINGS YOU WILL NEED

1. iPhone (or Android, or whatever else. If you’re using your phone for audio, skip this section).

2. Digital Audio Workstation.

  • §  This is software that allows you to record and edit audio.
  •  Many of them are free and have great trial offers. I’ll be focusing on the ones you’d look at as a beginner.
  • Garageband (Mac) is super easy to use and Ableton Live (Mac and PC) lite gives you an incredible set of capabilities

3. Audio Interface

  • This is a magical box that converts the audio from your playing to information that a computer can understand.
  • You get what you pay for here, but a cheap second hand 1-2 input interface like an M Audio M-Track will do just fine.
  • The interface takes the XLR or 1/4 inch cable that attaches to your mic/instrument and then sends the signal into your computer.

4. Microphone (if you play anything other than guitar/bass/electric keyboard).

  • If you have a good interface and use your DAW effectively, a cheap condenser mic will do. In particular, an indestructible workhorse like a Shure SM58/SM57 is great and you can find them for around $50 on Craigslist or a garage sale if you look hard enough. Here’s a guide: https://ehomerecordingstudio.com/best-cheap-mics/ . If you get one, it’s worth keeping.
  • I would strongly recommend against a USB mic like Blue Snowball – they leave out a lot of the depth and dynamic range you’d get from a condenser. Only go for a USB mic if you’re on a very, very tight budget.
  • For drummers, one well positioned mic will do reasonably well if you spend more time editing on your DAW. More on this below

5. 1/4 inch or XLR cable

  • Connects your instrument or mic to the interface. XLR’s for microphones and 1/4 inches for electric instruments.


AUDIO SETUP

Plug in the Audio Interface to the USB port of your computer. You may have to download a free driver for some interfaces. For this example, we’ll be using the inexpensive M Audio M-Track, whose driver can be found here.

Vocalists and acoustic instrumentalists will plug the ‘female’ end of your XLR (the one with three holes) into your mic and the other end into your interface. Electric instrumentalists can plug one end of their 1/4 inch to their instrument and the other to their interface. If you wish to capture the sound of your amp, set up your mic 6 inches away from the middle of it.

Vocalists and horn players can simulate soundproofing by singing/playing into a stack of towels or a few thick sweaters. You’re not looking for sharp studio quality here – you just want to capture your tone as cleanly as you can and minimize background noise.

AUDIO EDITING

I’ll be covering an extremely basic guide to EQ and compression here. In Lehman’s terms, compression makes your playing’s dynamics (loud vs quiet) more even and smooth while EQ cuts out or boosts certain frequencies.

For the sake of this tutorial, turning on the stock compressor on your DAW software will do just fine. You can find it under (plugins -> dynamics -> compressor).

Reference the EQ screenshots below for an idea of what frequencies to cut and boost depending on your instrument.
Leave your EQ totally flat (don’t touch it) if you’re playing piano.

Voice

Horns & Guitar

 Bass Guitar

 ​Click here for part 2 of this series to learn how to edit and sync video to your audio with speed.
 Stay tuned for part 3, where we compare the audio fidelity of cheap, mid-level, and premium recording setups.

Video for Music School Teaching and Admissions

HOW THE UBC SCHOOL OF MUSIC Amplifies Learning and Simplifies Auditions with Smartphone Video

The University of British Columbia’s School of Music used to do a lot of its administration and teaching using paper and email. Painful. The worst part was all the WAITING AROUND for students and teachers, waiting to practice, perform, and give feedback.

Traditional ways of teaching and working were wasting people’s time and students weren’t getting the learning benefits that are possible with some affordable technology. Now that students can record great video and good audio anywhere on their phones, learning and auditions have changed at UBC.

Music students, perhaps more than any others, need to observe themselves and reflect on their playing, singing, and musicianship. But in the ever-increasing rush of student life, faculty were noticing that students just weren’t reflecting carefully on their practice. It was into one class and out the other side, without reflection time and crucial one-on-one teaching time. When students and instructors tried to take the time to do so, it involved taking notes and using paper-based self-reflections or email feedback. It couldn’t be shared easily and students didn’t look at it more than once. Sometimes it became apparent that a student didn’t actually believe the teacher’s critique of some aspect of their playing! The School realized they needed a user-friendly video recording and feedback system.

The Problem

After sitting down with UBC Music’s Director of Bands, Professor Rob Taylor, we heard about a number of drawbacks to traditional text-based communication – paper and email — in music education. But there didn’t appear to be an obvious, affordable, viable solution. First, it was difficult to find an easy, standardized way of recording student rehearsal both in and outside class. Professors and students thought they’d need sophisticated camera equipment or at least a DSLR. Then there was the problem of how to share the video between professor and student. USB drives weren’t practical. Uploading to YouTube had its security and privacy issues and then the professor would have to deal with a bunch of indistinguishable YouTube links. Even with a recording, students’ paper based self reflection was not as fruitful as Taylor expected. Dr. Taylor told us: “I was pretty convinced that [students] weren’t actually watching the videos, or at least, they weren’t watching as carefully as they should. They would recall the live feedback they’d received in class that day and regurgitate those critiques on paper as their “self-reflection.” This was not a problem we wanted to leave unsolved.

Taylor told us the School had another problem: Video auditions from around the world. The School wanted to be able to recruit from anywhere. For a while, applicants would send in DVDs and CDs. Then, with YouTube, they could get recorded and send a link. But organizing all those links and getting them to faculty for review was cumbersome and unreliable.

The WeVu Experiment

To address these issues, the School turned to WeVu, a video platform with easy uploading, organization by classes or by instrument/section for auditions, totally flexible permission for viewing videos, and commenting on the timeline of the video.  Taylor set up his Conducting course so all students could see each other’s practice, but other professors set up their courses so only the instructor, TA, and student can see a given student’s videos. That solved the sharing problem perfectly.

They realized they could record the conducting with any camera or any smartphone. That was a real breakthrough, as students could record themselves privately or help each other to do so – inside or outside class and the school! The school bought a couple of good microphones for phones to lend to students.

Finally, they needed a way to replace paper- or email-based commenting, coaching, and self-reflection. According to Taylor, the software “allowed [instructors] to respond right at the key moments to what they see in the videos rather than watching the whole thing at once and then writing up a reflective statement afterwards. Now that the students write responses on their individually recorded videos on WeVu, right on the timeline of the video, I’ve seen a complete change in the level and quality of reflection that they produce.” WeVu’s time-stamped comments and discussion added more depth and students really do watch their video – it becomes very difficult not to engage in deep self reflection when every second of one’s playing can be addressed and scrutinized. And as much as anything, Taylor could make sure students were reflecting on their practice because he could see the comments they were making, anytime, from anywhere.

How it Works

WeVu.video is a simple, affordable web application that allows students to film themselves on their phone or laptop and receive incredibly detailed feedback. Time stamped comments from faculty diagnose performance down to the second. In addition, your activity on WeVu is centralized, secure, and LMS-compatible. The software seamlessly integrates to your current curriculum and will make make learning more efficient.

The Result

We asked Rob Taylor what effect WeVu had on his UBC conducting students when it was all said and done. He told us “It’s had an incredibly positive effect on my classes and it’s revolutionized the School of Music admission process. There isn’t a lot to worry about in terms of student reception, because they actually find it way more intuitive than we do thanks to all the different technologies they use on an everyday basis. I think it’s a really powerful tool.”

Adding Value to Music Programs: WeVu for Auditions

In addition to revolutionizing the way UBC Music conducted homework and assignments, WeVu has big implications for music admissions. Music schools miss out on top talent if they don’t accept video auditions. In person auditions are just too expensive for some schools and lots of students. As the race for student talent becomes increasingly international and competitive, schools need to expand the scope of their admissions and accept video auditions. But how? WeVu streamlines the application process for the performing arts by collecting students’ videos, transcripts, and recommendations and centralizing them in a secure online hub. The applications can be shared to groups of just the right faculty members who can easily comment on the auditions and score them using the same WeVu technology. Check out our Music Applications animated video here.