Lessons to Learn from Juilliard Open Studios

What can an arts manager learn from the lessons taking place in a conservatory?  A new app, Juilliard Open Studios, might just hold the answers. 

Launched on June 11th, The Juilliard School has created a subscriber based iOs app for iPad and iPhone that provides users with a "behind the scenes" view of the conservatory.  This app was created in conjunction with Touchpress, a developer gaining notoriety for their educational and innovative apps. According to their website, "Touchpress makes inspiring apps for curious minds- apps that change the way you see and understand the world.".  Other apps from the developer spanning the arts and education fields include Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Steve Reich's Clapping Music, and Disney Animated among others. 

The objective of this app is to give a behind the scenes view of the educational process at The Juilliard School.  Upon subscription, users are granted a new episode every month for a small fee. Interviews with Juilliard students and faculty, clips of coaching and performances, and information on source material are available on each episode.  The content is well produced with a clear image quality that feels more high definition than many televisions.

There are six episode tracks for users to choose from-two for each of the school's academic disciplines: Music, Drama, and Dance.  Examples of episodes include, "Exploring New Possibilities in Schubert" (Classical Music), "The Living Legacy of Martha Graham" (Dance), and "Tony Kushner's Angels in America" (Drama).

It should be noted that despite trends in online learning, the purpose of Open Studios is not to educate users through online lectures or lessons.  This content is much more comparable to a PBS Documentary than Khan Academy.

It is crucial for managers to recognize the reasons why this app is useful.  By developing unique content, specific to the Open Studios app, Juilliard has emerged with a product that gives users a reason to return after the initial download.  In most cases, performing arts organizations are creating apps to display the information that already exists on their website. Despite these efforts, users have no reason to use an app when the information they are looking for is more conveniently located on the internet. As arts organizations adapt and grow in the 21st Century, it is up to arts managers to be responsible for presenting new ways that audiences can engage with art.  In regards to audiences engagement through tech there are many lessons for arts managers to learn from Juilliard Open Studios.

Interested in The Juilliard School's opera program, I chose to download "Staging Il Turco in Italia, Episode 1: Giving Text to Voice.".  Below is a summary of each segment of the episode:

Preparing an Opera

In an Interview, Juilliard Coach Corradina Caporello and her colleagues explain how a conductor, stage director, and language coach prepare singers before entering the rehearsal room.

In the Studio

This interactive segment brings the user inside a coaching of two students working on a duet for their upcoming performance of Rossini's Il Turco in Italia.  The user has the option to watch the duet sung through with no stops or to watch the coach's lessons for the students by clicking on checkpoints that appear throughout the segment.  The segments are titled after the lesson that their coach stops to teach them, such as "Double Consonants" or "Melting His Heart".

The Duet in Performance

This segment gives the user the opportunity to watch the duet they just saw coached in the studio be performed onstage with costumes and scenery.  This time, the video offers the option to click on pop ups leading to formal interviews with the singers discussing topics such as "Preparing a Role" and "Voice and Character".  I preferred to watch the interviews after finishing the performance rather than when they first appeared on the screen- a luxury provided by this interactive user interface.

The Path to Love: The Duet in Context

Lastly, the users are directed to an article written by a Juilliard professor giving greater insight on the composition by Rossini.  Inserted into the article are additional videos that were featured as popups before, displayed in the area where pictures would normally be.