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Can singing be taught by video?

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Not that I'm involved with vocal instructions, but I always thought the idea of teaching by phone didn't make any sense. First, I thought the instructor needed to see the dynamics and the posture of the student. Second, the bandwidth of the phone is less capable than what the voice is capable of.

I wondered about video though--not that I ever use webcams. Problems here is that web audio upload bandwidth is even worse than phone bandwidth. Other than the audio bandwidth and choppy videos issues, why can't singing be taught using video?

Choppy videos I don't think will affect teaching much, because singing is being taught. The human brain has so much circuitry for sight, that it can accuately reinterpret a lot of video information. But, I wonder if the poor audio via web video will make this not feasible.

Suppose the web audio issue is solved, can singing be taught by web video?

Maybe the answer is one-way video with telephony audio?

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Phones are good for consultations in a Q & A format. I have no clue where you get video bandwidth is worse than phone. When I teach online, I csan hear/see the singer very very well. I have great success doing video lessons, although nothing will replace a one on one lesson with student and teacher in the same room.

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Phones are optimized for audio transfer and are optimized to simulate a point to point transmission. The Internet is dispersed packet delivery, and this in itself ensures that audio delivery timing is uncertain.

Internet video also uses a less reliable mechanism of transmission than typical webpage transmission-- packet losses are accepted. This means, in addition to choppy video and audio transmissions due to dispersed transmissions, packets are losted, causing loss of quality.

Most upload bandwidth capabilities are far worse than download; hence, the uploader faces the challenges of mic capture problems, loss in audio upload timing delivery, loss in packets, etc.

My recollection is that the phone itself doesn't transmit 20 to 200 hz range. I don't know the transmission range of web audio portion of web video, but I would imagine it's worse. Please refer to my above post, where I said the web audio portion of web video; I didn't say web video bandwidth is worse than phone bandwidth.

Lastly, the sound card makes a big difference in the reprocessing of the packets received.

So, how is it with all these difficulties a person can still understand a video or audio transmission? It has to do with the brain and the engineering to help the brain understand, despite the delays, missing packets, audio-equipment losses.

The human brain is much better at reinterpreting video than audio (something like 2/3 of your brain is for video processing). This is why we can visualize 3D whereas all screen videos are 2D. This is also why we can see a movie with choppy pictures and understand what's going on, but can't understand the choppy audio that accompanies it.

If your video or audio download is comparable to CD quality (most aren't), and such is played on high-end audio equipment, you can capture close to actual quality. If the video audio is interactive or there is data compression occurring or audio-video equipment isn't best, there is automatically a loss of information.

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I teach about 4-5 people a week over skype web cam and it works great. Both parties have to have a broadband connection and a higher quality camera and your good. No issues. In fact, on my end, I use a SPRINT air data card, by no means as big of a pipe as a cable connection or DSL.. and it works perfect.

Training and long distance learning over web cam is the future and we will be seeing more and more of this as time goes on.

www.thevocaliststudio.com/internetlessons

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I teach about 4-5 people a week over skype web cam and it works great. Both parties have to have a broadband connection and a higher quality camera and your good. No issues. In fact, on my end, I use a SPRINT air data card, by no means as big of a pipe as a cable connection or DSL.. and it works perfect.

I can attest to this as I am one of the 4-5 people. I was skeptical at first as to how good it was going to work as I know all too well what can happen over networks. I have designed and managed a private network of over 200 locations across the United States. The technology has advanced to the point where the limitations are less and less.

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Not saying one can't teach, am saying it is important to aware of the limitations, and to be aware that much of the bass sections are not transmitted at all, and that these are understood via harmonics instead. Also, one has to understand the upload pipe is different from the download. If one is aware of these subtleties and the power of the brain to interpret and infer, one can teach better, if not, the student suffers. Also, I am clearly stating that teaching via web audio, Internet-audio, or web video-audio is inferior to live or CD quality audio.

A private network--frequently, the end node bandwidth significantly higher than the end node bandwidth of DSL.

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Here's another example of bandwidth issues. Of all the people who would want to optimize interactive Internet audio bandwidth, it is the IP telephony people. Ever carefully listen to this? It sound terrible. If they can't get even quality as good as telephones, what makes anyone think that web video-audio can?

The key is to understand this is to understand that the human brain can interpret, infer, and interpolate. It's not true sounds one's hearing via webcams and etc.

I have a project to work on for a couple of weeks and may not be able to post regularly.

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I guess I am missing what you are trying to get out of this thread. At first you ask the question if it can be done and then say it can be done but we have to be aware of the limitations? Sounds like you should have stated that at first if you already have the answer.

You may not be able to reproduce everything exactly as it is seen or heard right now but the technology gets better all the time. Limitations are inherent with technology and there will always be something that can't be done. But pushing forward to the future is a better way to go than to stand still.

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I am asking whether interactive video singing instructions is effective, which I doubt, due to technologies limitations. So far, the answers given clearly do not address that there are limitations, and my belief is that these are serious. For example, in listening to the bass, most of the bass heard is actually harmonics; so, I wonder what the instructors are listening to? Also, based on the last discussion of this, most instructors are apparently also using low-end sound card, so what are they hearing?

What they're hearing of untransmitted or poorly transmitted frequencies are mostly interperlations and interpretations. If the video people don't undertand this, maybe you can explain it to them?

When I began recordings to help myself to learn, I used $30 mics. Quickly learned these would not help. Stepped up a few hundred dollars, and still determined these don't help enough. Eventually, decided the best method is to learn self-hearing.

If even better receptivity in mics are limited in learning as compared to live, why would I believe a technology about 50 times inferior would be a good learning tool?

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I gotta go madittenber on this. You've asked a question to which I don't know if you were really seeking an answer. As far as exact audio frequency, anytime your voice goes through a piece of equipment, it is somewhat affected. I told a student over skype the other day that after a handful of lessons, their lower voice was sounding fuller. So I am pretty sure skype is fine for teaching and the tone isn't affected enough for me to worry about it. Latency? Sometimes there is a little. But I still see fine and I can still play scales, although sometimes a little lagging. Bottom line: if you have the experience teaching, then you will be comfortable enough in any type situation to make the best of a lesson for your student.

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Fine, you've just said it's your brain that reinterprets and hears, which is what I've been saying.

If you're stating you can teach basics by reinterpreting, I'll agree. If you're stating you can listen to many of the harmonics going on and get an accurate hearing, this really depends on how good your brain can infer and reinterpret; and regardless of how good it is, it can still be wrong.

The point I'm claiming is that a lot of this cannot be taught by the slow speed of interactive video, due to technology limitations, and those of you who claim it can be taught thus, you either haven't made a good technical explanation, or you are unaware as to what's being taught remotely.

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This reminds of the prior Creative Xi-Fi debate as to whether such a sound card can enable better hearing; and most of the instructors claimed they can hear better without ever using a better sound card.

Same analogy as an experienced stargazer who never tried eyeglasses claiming they can still see something better than someone else using telescopes.

Personally, I don't believe web video's audio's capture harmonics correctly because I can't even get my expensive mics to capture correctly. Isn't this harmonics much of what is suppose to be taught?

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Hahaha hey Chen, did you read my post before I edited the typos? Pretty funny. Don't remember saying it was my brain interpreting because doesn't that really happen in anything we do? And if it is the brain interpretation, then how can I hear when a student is a little flat and not just interpret it as in-tune? Not doubting you, I am just truly interested in this kind of thing. Anything to do with brain function interests me. I think you should just setup and try the webcam thing for yourself so you know if it benefits you. BTW- I probably have such a decent sound because I have an elaborate setup and great webcam for teaching.

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Both your sight and hearing are very much affected by your brain's interpretation.

It doesn't matter how good of a webcam you have; video's audio has serious limitations. It's your brain that is reinterpretating that enables for a lot of corrections. But, if an instructor assumes that his reinterpretation is correct, he is mistaken, because a percentage of students will be sending slightly different sounds that the instructor can't hear.

You can hear a little flat because the technology is sufficient. What I doubt is the harmonics.

Most types of tele and data communications rely on using human frequencies above 200hz to reproduce sound. Above a certain frequency, the communications technologies also falter. The brain does all kinds of clever interpretations to fill in the missing pieces. The problem is that these technologies are generally optimized for speech understanding, not for singing accuracy. So, chances are, the instructor isn't hearing a skillful or full-harmonics singer accurately.

Microphone technology, I've noticed, goes much more expensive the more harmonics they can capture. A telephone or webcam microphone probably costs less than $20; they simply cannot capture the harmonics properly to begin with, and the technologies of transmission are not designed to transmit these either.

But these technologies all rely on tricks of the mind to make them communicate.

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"Web"... with all due respect, sometimes you frustrate me... may I be blunt... First of all, and please correct me if Im wrong... have you EVER even had an internet lesson before for peets sake!? I would assume you certainly have never facilitated an internet lesson before... Web, PLEASE... before you come on the forum and begin to pontificate about the "negative aspects of internet lessons", speak from some experience. Again, I may be dead wrong, but what experience have you with internet lessons? Have you ever had me, Jaime or any voice teacher give you a voice lesson over the internet... if not, how can you engage in an argument that professes to be concerned about aspects of the technology...

BTW... the lack of "bass" in the internet lesson connection is utterly insignificant... an internet lesson does not have to be high fidelity, you simply need to be able to hear the person relatively well, have no internet problems and your good. Truth is, it is surprisingly easy and effective.

Internet lessons with web cam work great! Contact me or Jaime and we'll show you.

Having said that... I do appreciate your "contrarian" view, it stimulates activity on the forum... so its cool... kinda.

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Both your sight and hearing are very much affected by your brain's interpretation.

It doesn't matter how good of a webcam you have; video's audio has serious limitations. It's your brain that is reinterpretating that enables for a lot of corrections. But, if an instructor assumes that his reinterpretation is correct, he is mistaken, because a percentage of students will be sending slightly different sounds that the instructor can't hear.

You can hear a little flat because the technology is sufficient. What I doubt is the harmonics.

Most types of tele and data communications rely on using human frequencies above 200hz to reproduce sound. Above a certain frequency, the communications technologies also falter. The brain does all kinds of clever interpretations to fill in the missing pieces. The problem is that these technologies are generally optimized for speech understanding, not for singing accuracy. So, chances are, the instructor isn't hearing a skillful or full-harmonics singer accurately.

Microphone technology, I've noticed, goes much more expensive the more harmonics they can capture. A telephone or webcam microphone probably costs less than $20; they simply cannot capture the harmonics properly to begin with, and the technologies of transmission are not designed to transmit these either.

But these technologies all rely on tricks of the mind to make them communicate.

All of these technical concerns and worrying about the fidelity and acoustics of the students voice is 95% unimportant to conducting a successful internet lesson.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chen, I can understand your concerns. You're right about bandwidth--it's a thin stream compared to live and in person. But as voice teachers, we see results with our overseas students that can be astounding and effective. I believe that the future of on line voice instruction will be a mix of audio and video assets that the remote student can access locally from their own computer, along with the close monitoring of a vocal professional. If you compare a remote video consultation arrangement with someone just trying it on their own with SS, SLS or even TVS, people who receive individual attention I believe will get 10x the results.

-John

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I don't necc. agree that it needs to be less quality. I had lessons with Dante before (the teacher of Beyondtenor) and he kept amazing me with how well he could hear over the phone. It was as if there were eyes on his ears. It takes training to accomplish such great hearing but once you have that ear I see no reason why this can't be effective. You're speaking with a guy here who had more lessons via internet/phone then actually in person.

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In actuality hearing may become more acute when you can't see. It depends on the student and teacher and how the ear is trained. Blind people generally are more sensitive to vibrations,sounds and noise. Personally not for me to teach or learn that way, but I do think it is viable for those more inclined,espeacially with some of the younger generation who live by text message etc. They are more Neuro inclined to learning by more high tech and less traditional means. The bottom line is some will have to try it and decided if it works for them personally or not. You can get your PhD online now also. some are working two jobs and don't have time for a tradition college. Ultimately , someone has to know there situation, budget, time allowance and get the best available in their situation.

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Fine, you've just said it's your brain that reinterprets and hears, which is what I've been saying.

I've been watching this discussion on this thread, on the prior one, with some interest. I'll jump in now.

Even when the listener is present in the room with a singer, the brain is interpreting the harmonic content of the sung tone. It is an unavoidable aspect of the way the sense of hearing works. Every recording and playback technology affects the fidelity of the tone, too. As you say, mic, soundcards, speakers... all have an effect on the waveforms audible by the listener, and to the experience of the tone quality.

The question is whether with the state-of-the-art, these things make salient differences to the teacher and student - does the difference matter? Do we really have issues evaluating voices when we listen to CD's, or orchestral sound-tracks and theme songs at movies? The fidelity is quantifyably less for those when compared to IRL... there is distortion added by every component in the signal chain.

The fact is that the brain is very sophisticated in its processing of sound spectra. Even on 8K bitrate mono mp3s, I bet everyone on this list can tell the difference between the voices of Celine Dion, Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin, or discriminate between Curt Cobain and Meatloaf. We can hear their pitch and diction. We can hear their vowel choices and dynamics. We can hear the quality of their legato, where they are breathing, and whether the tone is firm or breathy.

Yes, it sounds different than IRL, but does that matter to what the singing teacher and the student need to communicate.

The point I'm claiming is that a lot of this cannot be taught by the slow speed of interactive video, due to technology limitations, and those of you who claim it can be taught thus, you either haven't made a good technical explanation, or you are unaware as to what's being taught remotely.

When it comes to teaching, the proof is in observable behavior. If the teacher communicates a concept to the level that the student accomplishes what the teacher desires to hear or see, then that is success. If I, as a teacher, instruct the student to put the tip of their tongue behind their bottom teeth, and demonstrate it myself, and the student then does it successfully, The student has learned how to do it. If I say 'when singing this word on this note, smile a little', and they _do_ it, then I have accomplished what I intended. It does not matter that my image, as seen by the student, has been pixelated to some specific resolution less than the density of the fovea centralis of my eye.

If I tell a student to drop their jaw for /a/ on a particular word, so that their F1 aligns with the 3rd harmonic of the tone to emphasize it, and I can see the jaw drop, and hear (and also measure with instruments) the reproduction of the emphasized harmonic, then I know that they have done what I want them to do.

In summary, when the senses are involved, the brain is always interpreting. It is an inescapable part of the experience of sight and sound. The question, then, is whether sufficient information is being received by the senses for the important discriminations on the part of the student and teacher to occur. The way the teacher determines this is by the success of the student in accomplishing what has been instructed.

It seems to me, Chen, that your argument is that the current state-of-the-art is insufficient to accomplish this. The teachers and students who are involved in this have said otherwise, so the issue cannot be agreed as currently being discussed.

However, I would ask the question back to you... what would be sufficient bandwidth in your opinion? Would 30-frame per second video with 44.1KHz audio be suitable?

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Chen, there are many who learn listening and emulating others and recordings IMO this can be a benefit to some and very detrimental to others. Unless you are using nonprocessed vocal tracks. Young and new singers will hear things that are Machine created (over processed) and not realizing the difference hurt themselve trying to duplicate. Modern vocalist peak and tweak the hell out of the voxs artificially. So learning with less generally won't hurt. It is proper set up, actions and reflexs your going for Once those are esthablished. You should have command of the instrument. If you were to do for example all of your trainingg with a piano out tuned to 400 rather then 440 if properly trained that transfers effortlessly into 440 universal. In person is more for the teacher to See and train proper breathing, habit, feedback and often the relationship that developes allows for a student to open up more with confidence. A spot at the gym isn't required ,you can still get a great work out. It may however help get you through those points were you are slightly afraid, the extra rep you would have backed down from. Note I know Brooklyn boys who work out in basements with bars and cinder blocks that get great results. If one truley has the drive,devotion and stick with it. you can get great results by many different means. So I don't discount any method. It is just my personal preference to teach/learn in person.

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