Music students continue to maximize Internet2

Paul Bauer
Paul Bauer

NIU’s School of Music continues to provide a unique learning opportunity for its students.

Third-year tuba performance major Kurt Bonamer recently had the opportunity to receive a private lesson from Dennis Askew, a professor in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Bonamer took the lesson in DeKalb. Askew was nearly 800 miles away in Greensboro.

Internet2 made it possible.

“Internet2 is a special internet connection with a high bandwidth and high quality,” said Paul Bauer, director of the School of Music. “It is like Skype, but more practical. It places you at a distance equal to being across the room from your peer.”

Delays are only 35 milliseconds despite distances of hundreds or thousands of miles.

NIU students in similar situations have harnessed Internet2 in similar situations in the past to take private lessons and master classes.

“It was a really positive experience,” Bonamer said. “It was similar to being in a private lesson. The only difference is not being able to touch the other person or share the same copy of music. It works really well.”

The Internet2 network is growing across the globe.

NIU was the first school in the United States to get involved with the network and has used the technology with universities abroad, Bauer said. Since NIU’s initial use, the School of Music has participated in multiple demonstrations with other U.S. universities to encourage university funding for the network at their respective locations.

Dan Nichols
Dan Nichols

“We are always happy to help,” said Internet2 technician Dan Nichols, head of recording services for the School of Music.

From 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. Monday, March 5, Bauer and his colleagues will present the first public demonstration in the world of LOLA (Low Latency Audio Visual Streaming System) in color.

NIU was the first institution in the United States to demonstrate LOLA in October 2011 for the Fall 2011 Internet2 Members Meeting in Raleigh, N.C. That was in black and white. Monday’s demonstration will include the first public demonstration of LOLA in color, requiring 400 Mbps of Internet2 bandwith.

Next week’s session between NIU and the New World Symphony will take place in the Music Building’s Recital Hall. NIU is participating in the Internet2 Performance Arts Workshop, hosted by the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Fla.

Musicians Mark Ponzo, professor of trumpet at NIU, and the New World Symphony’s Bill Williams, senior vice president for Musician Advancement and dean of musicians, will perform trumpet duets. The session is open to all.

The NIU School of Music established the wide bandwidth connection necessary for this technology to work at its maximum potential for less than $5,000.

Technology initiatives such as Internet2, wireless access and construction of new smart classrooms are quality-of-learning and quality-of-life issues that make NIU attractive to current and potential students, Bauer said, and are a key priority for NIU moving forward.

Increased use of the technology bears potential to change the way things are done in the School of Music that will benefit the students. “We can practice with guest conductors in advance without having to fly them out and pay for the transportation and a hotel,” Bonamer said. “It makes guest performers and professors very available.”

One of Bauer’s next projects is to host a steel pan concert performed in DeKalb for an audience at the New World Symphony Concert Hall in Orlando, Fla.

NIU’s investment in this technology is in line with its Vision 2020 plan for the university to make NIU the most student-centered public research university in the Midwest, Bauer said.

Internet2 enhances the NIU learning experience, one of the key initiatives of Vision 2020, by giving students the opportunity to learn from experts, regardless of their location worldwide.

by Constance Ervins

Related: Paul Bauer, director of the NIU School of Music, discusses robotic camera technology used in conjunction with Internet2 performances.

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