When most people think of the Yamaha Disklavier, they think of a player piano or home entertainment instrument. What most folks don’t know is that the world’s premier player piano was designed to be (first and foremost) an educational tool. Introduced in 1982 as the world’s first fully-functional reproducing piano (able to play and record piano music), the Yamaha Disklavier enjoyed near instant success. The ability to record one’s performance and play it back instantly was a great help to piano students, so piano teachers and music schools all over the world began to use these new technologies in their day-to-day lessons. Yamaha, however, was already working towards a far more ambitious goal.
In 1997, Yamaha pioneered an experimental technology that was designed to transmit song data from one piano to another in near real-time all around the world. It took Yamaha engineers nearly 10 years to perfect this industry-changing technology, but finally – in January of 2007 – Yamaha announced the all new “Remote Lesson.”
For the first time, gifted students all over the world could attend remote master classes or enjoy one-on-one instruction with world-class professors no matter where they lived! Opera students could practice with rich, expressive (and pre-recorded) accompaniments at all hours of the night and day! Music Conservatories could audition students from all over the world via remote – without having to make expensive travel arrangements. …and, perhaps more importantly, more students were able to participate in high quality music learning experiences than ever before.
Now – more than 20 years since Yamaha introduced Remote Lesson technology – the Yamaha Disklavier (and it’s high resolution “Remote Live” technology) is a staple in world-class music schools and teaching studios all over the globe and, perhaps, the best way to continue high quality piano study during – and after – this global pandemic.
Here are just a few examples of how “Remote Live” is solving problems for piano teachers, professors and music students in the era of COVID-19 and beyond:
- Recruiting. How many promising music students never get the instruction (or the scholarship money) they need simply because they can’t afford to travel for long-distance auditions? With Disklavier, prospective students can perform auditions remotely – at any Yamaha Institutional Piano Dealer in the World (like Riverton Piano Company). Recruiters can watch pre-recorded performances, select their favorites, and arrange LIVE remote auditions without ever leaving their offices! Imagine the time and money this could save… and – more importantly – imagine the “hidden” talents that could be uncovered in the process!
- Distance Learning. This technology is becoming indispensable for institutions all over the world – especially those with campuses outside of major metropolitan cities. With Disklavier, instructors (whose offices are most often housed in the main campus’s music college building) can conduct private piano lessons with students on other campuses or dorms. Student teachers can build experience by teaching remote lessons to students on or around other campuses. Pamela Pike, for example, has been using Disklaviers as a distance-learning and pedagogical resource for longer than almost anyone. She began exploring the Yamaha technology with her graduate students in 2016 at Louisiana State University. Monitoring them to study the effectiveness of remote teaching, she found that distance learning students became more verbal and communicative with their instructors – helping them to overcome obstacles more easily. She published these findings in the International Society for Music Education Journal and continues to promote distance learning with the Yamaha Disklavier.
- Remote Master Classes. Master classes offer critical learning experiences for piano majors. These interactive performances give students an opportunity to play for a top-grade artist or pedagogue and receive instant feedback. Even before COVID, travel costs and scheduling made master classes more rare than most music schools would prefer. The COVID risk has virtually eliminated them. However, thanks to “Remote Lesson” on the Yamaha Disklavier, master classes can now be conducted remotely with practically no risk. The hosting artist can watch a student perform live (anywhere in the world) via internet video, hear the performance in real-time as the technology transmits the students key strokes to the hosting artist’s piano in real-time, and offer instant feedback using this two-way technology to transmit his or her own keystrokes to the students piano. It’s safe, socially distant and remarkably effective. It also removes travel times from consideration – allowing gifted instructors to spend more time teaching and less time traveling.
- Virtual Performances. Especially at the University level, music students need as much performance experience as they can get. With Disklavier, students can offer virtual performances to any piano store with a Yamaha Disklavier (which also gives university recruiters a chance to interact with area piano students). They can perform for other universities with Disklaviers. They can participate in competitions or piano festivals with Remote Live technology. They can even share their musical skills with students at partner schools around the world. Here is an example: In this video, Dr. Mario Ajero, Assistant Professor of Piano Pedagogy at the Stephen F. Austin State University, and his son Nio, share a performance with an audience in Germany.
- Collaborative Piano. In the COVID-19 era, finding an accompanist is harder than ever… but finding a good collaborative pianist (with availability) has always been a challenge (and expense). With the Yamaha Disklavier, music schools can begin building their own libraries of piano accompaniments for vocal or instrumental students. They can also build their own in-house libraries of piano duets (or take advantage of Yamaha’s classical music database). This gives universities with Disklaviers an advantage by offering their students the ability to practice with excellent “accompanists” (that can perform at any time, tempo and key the student requires) without additional expense! That’s why the University of Kentucky purchased 11 Yamaha Disklaviers for their Opera program. These pianos (located in practice rooms, classrooms and performance stages around the school) provide students with unlimited practice and performance opportunities – giving them a real advantage over other singers who are limited by scheduling and budgets.
- Supplemental Income. Simply put – teaching more students means more income for the music department. Imagine having a “remote learning” option for community music programs (allowing students to take lessons from a university faculty member even if they live too far away to reach the school), non-major lessons (allowing adjunct faculty to offer private piano lessons to non-majors at any campus around the world), pedagogy students (who can teach remotely under the supervision of a single faculty member), and so much more. With Disklavier remote instruction, your department can provide high-quality instruction to more students and, thus, bring in more money for the music school.
- Wow Your Donors. We all know how important it is to cultivate relationships with university donors. Imagine their reaction if they could witness a LIVE musical performance via remote. Schedule an intimate dinner and the university club and surprise your donors with a remote performance by one of your celebrated alumni. Give you Music Department Chair a chance to offer a “musical hello” on location via Disklavier Remote Live from the very music trip your donors helped sponsor! Imagine the impact this technology will have on those who most closely support your music program. They will see your foresight, your technical savvy and your dedication to 21st Century learning… and they will want to be a part of it!
In today’s increasingly competitive environment, utilizing technology like the Yamaha Disklavier is an absolute must. Find the best students, train 21st Century teachers, increase your enrollment and further elevate your music school in the minds of your valued supporters. All of this and more is possible with a Yamaha Disklavier.
“Teaching piano using the Yamaha Disklavier has allowed me to connect with musicians I would have otherwise been unable to encounter. To be able to hear the performance of a student who is physically miles away through an acoustic piano, reproduced with perfect accuracy, allows us to communicate with a naturalness so rare in most distance learning technology. The Yamaha Remote Lesson is technology at its most human.” – Dr. Lisa Yui, Manhattan School of Music
If you’d like to know more about remote learning with a Yamaha Disklavier, contact Riverton Piano Company. We will be happy to setup an in-person demonstration so you can see for yourself why this technology is transforming the music education landscape forever.