As more and more applications move onto the Internet, one in particular stands out as something that could one day change music education as we currently know it. Imagine a world, not so far in the future, when a teacher in Maine could teach a trombone lesson to a student in California via computer and have it feel almost as though the student was in the same room. EJamming is a company at the forefront of interactive, live performance of music over the Internet, and the company has big plans for the future.
EJamming is an online service that allows musicians from all over the world connect to each other to virtually rehearse, record, and perform live music together. The EJamming software , currently available as a free beta version, uses special proprietary compression technologies and other high tech methods to provide a nearly seamless jam session between users provided that the users have an adequate high speed connection to the Internet. Hundreds of musicians are already using the system to rehearse and record even though they are seperated by hundreds or even thousands of miles. From a music education perspective the opportunities associated with this technology are amazing to consider.
Gail Kantor, CEO of EJamming, says that EJamming is a technological solution for simultanious rehearsal and recording with almost zero latency. In its current form EJamming is a place for artists to work on demos and rehearse for fun, but many changes and upgrades are in store once the service comes out of beta in late 2008. The service is currently free but the full commercial version of EJamming plans to charge under ten dollars a month for access. For this small amount of coin users will see some big improvements on the horizon. A video of the current versions abilities is already available to view on YouTube.
Future versions of the software will go beyond simply allowing two or three users that know each other to jam together. They will also be able to meet in a virtual lobby where students or professionals will be able to connect to play together on local intranets (such as on a school network) or in global meeting rooms. Imagine being a band director with three schools, none of which have a full instrumentation. With this technology all three schools could theoretically be brought together in one rehearsal, with the director able to listen to and interact with all three mini-ensembles as if it was one mass ensemble and all without any transportation costs or loss of instructional time. Other intended improvements to the software include the ability to purchase sheet music to be displayed on the screen while playing so that the two performers need not even own the same piece of music when they meet for their first session.
Current music technology tools give student's the ability to practice their music with computer aided assistance (SmartMusic and StarPlay for example) but every music teacher knows that while playing well is important, playing well in an ensemble is an equally challenging skill. The EJamming opens up the possibility that students could one day practice with each other or with their private teachers while they sit in their own homes.
While these virtual technologies will never replace the need for live, interpersonal interaction between student and teacher, they do present an incredible opportunity, opening doors that previously could never have been opened to musicians both young and old. For now the only thing holding the use of EJamming and similar products back is a lack of bandwidth infrastructure at the school level. In years to come however, as schools improve and expand their connectivity and bandwidth allotments, EJamming could very well become just as ubiquitous in the music classroom as the tape recorder is now.