British stone.Professor Norbert Pioneers Piano Teaching Techniques

DE PERE — While technology continues to change the way we learn, Assistant Professor of Piano João Paulo Casarotti has been preparing for the digital age for more than a decade.

“During the pandemic when all music schools were closed, I was able to help many music teachers around the world,” Casarotti said.

Casarotti has taught worldwide and his family discovered his passion for the piano at a young age in Brazil.

“She wrote in her baby book that when I was one year old, she walked me around the neighborhood and my eyes lit up when I heard my neighbor play the piano,” Casarotti said.

Fast forward to 2009, and Casarotti decided to investigate how new technology could be incorporated into the music classroom. The result is a system that Casarotti says is a pioneering setup unique to the program.

“When you’re sitting here in the studio, students can only look at the sheet music or only at your hand. With this technology, you can put a lot of things on one screen,” Casarotti said.

Here’s how it works. Casarotti has installed several cameras around the piano that feed back what’s on the TV screen. He then uses the tablet to organize the feeds into collages that he can swipe to focus on different aspects. This allows students to see their position, actions and keystrokes all at the same time.

The camera design will actually improve next year, Casarotti said, as the program expands to a new piano lab, the first of its kind in the country. It will include about 20 different cameras for use by students and teachers that will be able to be used to help enhance lessons, he said.

Tom Lee is a sophomore at Saint Louis University. Norbert College began piano lessons at home in Korea at the age of six. Unlike taking notes in class, he says it helps him visualize in great detail any mistakes that need to be corrected.

“Oh, I did it wrong, I didn’t have weights on my arms, I just used a lot of fingers. Using fingers and weights made a completely different sound,” Lee said.

In addition to being able to see all the information and angles at once, there are so many videos, which helps him improve quickly, he said. He hopes this will help him achieve his ultimate goal.

“The main dream I want to do is actually to be a director working with different groups,” Lee said.

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