Teaching & Technology (Married at Last)

by Joseph Natoli

The frequent and perennial challenge for would-be music students (especially those living in remote non-urban areas) has been the ability to find a reputable and accomplished teacher close enough for a short drive to a weekly lesson. There is the often familiar scenario where a great teacher is two to three hours away, and an especially promising student along with their supportive family members find themselves driving this distance on a regular basis for that coveted time with a teacher who they feel can have the greatest impact on his/her musical education. There are stories of students and families even moving their entire household hours away just to be closer to the teacher with whom they want to study the most. Enter technology to solve that problem.

Twenty to 30 years ago, we only dreamed of the capabilities afforded us currently by the internet and faster networks. It was clear to many even 25 years ago that one day, teaching and entire degrees could be accomplished via the internet, which has now become a reality with MBA and other degree programs emerging online continually. For the most part however, these degree programs early on had been asynchronous, meaning that there had not been the capability from home to have real-time online communication and class instruction via video conferencing. Now with home internet connectivity becoming faster than ever before, that real-time instruction capability is not only a possibility, but a distinct reality.

Joseph Natoli, 1972 American Accordionists' Association (AAA) US Virtuoso champion, 1972 Coupe Mondiale (World Cup) 1st Runner Up, 2008 Roland US Digital Accordion champion, and previous Roland clinician has exploited a way to teach students anywhere in the world who want to study with him, using this available technologies of Skype, Zoom, and other online collaboration tools. Since current laptop and desktop computers typically come equipped with a web cam and microphone, and since most people currently have high-speed internet access, Joe has been successfully using these free online video conferencing tools to teach students anywhere on the planet via web cam.

Joe indicates that in spite of this available technology, he has observed people around the country on any instrument, frequently requesting information in various online music newsgroups and social media pages for teacher suggestions in geographical areas closer to them. What they do not seem to realize is that distance is no longer a limiting factor! Anyone can study with any teacher around the globe, as long as they have these basic inexpensive web conferencing tools. This approach is most often flawless and provides real-time access to both teacher and student as if in they are in the same teaching studio together, but in the comfort and safety of home. With today’s escalating gas and car maintenance prices, people should be jumping at the chance to take their music lessons this way?

Lessons do not have to be limited to just instrumental performance either. Joe is very successfully teaching all of the following disciplines with this approach:

  • Acoustic & digital accordion performance

  • Piano

  • Organ

  • Trumpet

  • MIDI based keyboards & workstations

  • MIDI sound module usage in live or recorded performance

  • MIDI & Traditional orchestration and arranging

  • Composition & Theory

  • Computer based music publishing using music notation software

  • Home digital recording and production techniques


Joe indicates that his remote students are very satisfied with this arrangement and people who live hundreds and even thousands of miles away are studying with him quite successfully using this method. “Since we can see each other perfectly on our computer monitors, I can observe the student playing with absolute clarity in terms of instrument position, hand position, and all visual along with aural cues to provide first rate, real-time instruction. Neither I nor the student ever feel any diminished capability in any way as a result of using this approach.”

Payment for lessons is even made easier with technology. Thanks to PayPal and other electronic payment companies, the student can safely and efficiently make sure the payment is made electronically before the lesson, with no late payments caused by delayed “snail mail.” That completes the final piece of the puzzle in the marriage of teaching and technology.

Joe is currently accepting additional students into his schedule. For inquiries about lesson time availability, please contact Joe at janpressmusic@yahoo.com.

Additionally, Joe invites everyone to visit his performances posted on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com. Search on the following three words “joseph natoli accordion” to view a complete listing of all of Joe’s currently available videos on YouTube (with more to be added often).