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The Environment| School of Education | Noteworthy
Master teachers from around the world can
virtually sit on the bench next to you.
Jose Feghali’s title is professor of professional practice in music and artist-in-residence. But to School of Music colleagues he’s more the geek-in-residence.
The grand-prize winner of the 1985 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is an unabashed technophile. Consider his Walsh Center office: two pianos, two computers, a remote-controlled airplane and a 50-inch monitor.
On this afternoon, Feghali is using that mammoth monitor to scan broadcasts from all over the world. The DVD-quality images projecting from his laptop onto the TV screen include an Arabic talk show, a Japanese variety show and an Italian-language program that looks like “The View.”
Feghali mutes the volume. “I like Italian, but it’s distracting,” he says.
He’s demonstrating one of the many uses for a super-fast Internet connection made possible by TCU’s membership in Internet2 — a networking consortium of U.S. research and educational institutions — that is opening a world of opportunities for TCU music students.
“How it’s going to end up, I don’t know,” Feghali said. “Even though people are getting excited about this, I don’t think they’re even realizing the possibilities.”
In February, TCU participated in a master class that linked classrooms an ocean apart. Two piano students on stage at PepsiCo Recital Hall played live for Christopher Elton, head of keyboard at the Royal Academy of Music, as he sat in a practice room at the London school. A piano student sitting next to Elton played for Feghali.
The two-way hookup produced crisp video and concert hall sound, as if all the participants in the master class were in the same room.
“Companies have been video conferencing for years, but the audio’s terrible,” Feghali said. “Try to hear good music through a telephone.”
Internet2 trumps a typical web connection by linking subscribing institutions into an ultra-high-speed fiber-optic network that delivers instantaneous video feeds and uncompressed sound. In the Internet world it’s like driving a Ferrari on an empty Autobahn.
“Your car may be able to go 200 m.p.h., but you can’t because there’s too much congestion,” Feghali said. “This is a superhighway with 20 lanes and no rush hour.”
The only limits on the connection come from a university’s hardware and network infrastructure. That’s not a problem at TCU, where Feghali credits a team of Internet technicians and School of Music Director Richard Gipson for supporting efforts to incorporate Internet2 into the classroom and performance hall.
In March the school’s second Internet2 master class gave TCU orchestra members the chance to hear pointers from violin Professor Stephen Rose of the Cleveland Institute of Music.
“He’s so busy, he doesn’t have time to come here and give our students lessons,” Feghali said. “But now we can grab one hour of his time.”
Feghali plans to employ Internet2 to broadcast live performances over the Internet, and he’s dreaming up other uses. Imagine the TCU music faculty in Fort Worth listening to and viewing the live audition of prospective students in China.
“It creates a connection between people that I don’t know how you can get any other way,” he said. “We can get people here who ordinarily couldn’t get here.
“I believe in live performances, and you can’t replicate the experience of going to a concert, but as a tool for educating and connecting the world it’s limitless.” -- MW
For information: www.feghali.com.
Contact Feghali at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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