CSU Conducting Professor Creates Multimedia Textbook

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University’s Paul Hostetter is hoping instructors and students get a lot of mileage out of the hybrid textbook on orchestral conducting that he has authored.

The textbook, “OnMusic Conducting: Connect to the Sound,” is being published as a multimedia, online course guide by Connect4Education, which produces similar instructional material for the Web. The introductory course provides comprehensive training for conductors, using both face-to-face instruction and enhanced technological resources. As a hybrid text, materials appear online but can also be taught in the classroom. It’s written for college and university classes, but also — for the more ambitious — use in high schools.

“To my knowledge, it’s the first hybrid text of its kind,” said Hostetter, the Ethel Foley Distinguished Chair in Orchestral Activities for Columbus State's Schwob School of Music.

The book is a long time coming for Hostetter. He spent last summer developing the course, although it actually had been on his mind for more than a decade because all textbooks he’d been using over the years had, in Hostetter’s eyes, a variety of limitations.

Hostetter said his greatest frustration before developing the course was his inability to deliver videos to students as part of an integrated approach. He’s solved that, he thinks, with his new multimedia course’s online portal.

“What we do is have them conduct compact arrangements of band, orchestral and choral repertoire,” Hostetter said. “While conducting, students are videotaped and then subsequently are able to view their work in a progressive format with slow motion and telestrators, much like what an Olympic athlete might use. This helps students focus more on making adjustments in their conducting technique rather than deal with other labor-intensive video delivery options.

“It’s very difficult for them to make adjustments in a highly visual medium unless they can review their work in detail,” he said. “This one element creates a seamless experience.”

Hostetter remembered — while teaching a music appreciation course for CSU — that he’d been using Connect4Education’s multimedia capabilities, which he was pleased with, also receiving positive feedback from students.

Because a branch of C4E has a Department of Defense contract for online training at Fort Benning, company CEO Dongsook Kim, on a visit to Columbus, wanted to meet Hostetter and thank him personally for his comments regarding the music appreciation course. Hostetter then pitched his concept for a hybrid course and asked if the company would be interested.

“She said, ‘Absolutely. We’d be interested,’” Hostetter said. He spent a day hammering out teaching specifics and the tools needed with Carlos Maldonado, C4E’s chief learning architect. One such tool would be one they developed called Acclaim, which allows uploading from any video format.

“It has slow-motion capabilities and arrows to point to people’s wrists, neck, shoulders or their face — to show them whatever it is you want them to correct,” he said. “This new tool is a really great solution in the effort to help students incorporate significant change in their physical delivery.”

Hostetter, then commissioned to author the text over a six-month period, went through the process of gathering and assembling all the information he’d accumulated throughout his academic and professional careers.

“There are many elements I’ve been thinking about for well over 10 years,” Hostetter said. “Things like left hand-right hand independence — something with which most conductors struggle. Score reading. Preparation. I think there are new ways to approach each that help students digest information more readily.”

Students have multiple opportunities to quiz themselves and review their work before participating in a graded event.

Hostetter used his fall conducting class  to test his text and has seen “excellent results.” Additionally, he’s shown it to colleagues and friends from various universities, conductors at the Pittsburgh and Spokane, Wash., symphonies and other professionals.

“People from all walks of academic and professional life have been reviewing the course, and the reviews have been extremely positive,” Hostetter said.

The textbook  became officially available in January, but he added that he feels most textbook adoptions are going to occur next fall.

“A nice thing about a hybrid text is when you publish it, you don’t have to wait a couple of years before you publish again,” Hostetter said.

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