Distance Learning

Distance Learning History

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Find out how we've grown from our start as the first-ever videoconference program at a major conservatory in the US.

Distance Learning Program Historical Highlights


  • Manhattan School of Music inaugurates the first-ever music videoconference program at a major United States conservatory under the pioneered vision of maestro Pinchas Zukerman, then president Marta Casals Istomin, and Christianne Orto.
  • First International Videoconference to Paris — Composer Henri Dutilleux appears live from Paris in Borden Auditorium during the New York premiere of his work Timbres, espaces, movement as performed by the Manhattan School of Music Philharmonia.


  • Honorary Doctorate Conferred upon Mstislav Rostropovich and Clark Terry via International Videoconference —President Marta Istomin confers honorary doctorates upon Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich and jazz trumpeter Clark Terry live from Evian, France via videoconference during the 71st commencement exercises.
  • Pinchas Zukerman offers master class to Hong Kong for students at the Academy of Performing Arts. Isaac Stern is in attendance.


  • Creation of Mischa Elman Distance Learning Center — To support the growth and development of videoconference music programs and applications, the Elman Distance Learning Center is established. The Center joins the aesthetic tradition of a conservatory music studio with 21st-century technological capabilities in a one-of-a-kind virtual music studio.

“Through distance learning, young, aspiring musicians can broaden their horizons and incorporate musical influences and ideas from artist-educators around the globe.”

Chair of the Graduate Program in Orchestral Performance at Manhattan School of Music; former concertmaster, New York Philharmonic (1980-2014)


  • Manhattan School of Music establishes a Distance Learning Partnership with New York City School system, to expand its Arts-in-Education program, Music Teaches, to underserved students in the five boroughs.


  • Manhattan School of Music becomes affiliate member of Internet2, the national research and education consortium dedicated to creating next generation Internet applications.
  • “Arts in Education and the Virtual Classroom” becomes the first elective course to offer students comprehensive training in how to design, create, and present interactive educational outreach programs via videoconference to classrooms throughout the United States.


  • Manhattan School of Music presents first Webcast, Zukerman Interactive, featuring Maestro Zukerman conducting an orchestral reading of the Elgar String Serenade, Op. 20, with student string chamber orchestra.


  • Manhattan School of Music collaborates with Polycom to create “Music Mode” videoconferencing technology specifically designed for live, music education, and interaction.
  • In collaboration with the National Arts Centre of Canada, Manhattan School of Music launches Manhattan on the Rideau, a series of interactive videoconference jazz master classes featuring MSM faculty artists with talented Canadian students. The series has included presenters such as Kenny Barron, Randy Brecker, Stefon Harris, Vijay Iyer, and Jason Moran.


  • Manhattan School of Music establishes first-ever US-Chinese music distance learning program with Shanghai Conservatory of Music
  • Manhattan School of Music constructs fiber optic network connected to Internet2 via Columbia University
  • Manhattan School of Music Distance Learning Director receives IDEA Award, Internet2 Driving Exemplary Applications, Interactive Music Education
  • Manhattan School of Music Distance Learning Program connects to Seoul, South Korea for first ever International Student Showcase with MSM students performing live for their friends and families in Seoul

“The value of videoconferencing for teaching is obvious. If I can’t physically be there, at least students can get something of value from my comments and examples. There is also the dramatic effect of the medium itself which has positive inspirational value….”

Manhattan School of Music Jazz Saxophone Faculty, NEA Jazz Master


  • Manhattan Connects: An Internet2 Conference for New York’s Cultural Institutions. In collaboration with Internet2, Columbia University, and Nysernet, MSM presents a conference for New York’s cultural institutions on the power and potential of advanced networking for the arts from The William R. and Irene D. Miller Recital Hall.


  • Manhattan School of Music Distance Learning inaugurates live web streaming of student concerts from The William R. and Irene D. Miller Recital Hall.


  • Manhattan School of Music Distance Learning Program is named 2009 Computerworld Honors Laureate in an awards ceremony at Mellon Auditorium, Washington, D.C.
  • Manhattan School of Music Distance Learning launches Global Conservatory, a new initiative aimed at connecting with institutions around the world to engage in group lessons, private instruction, and ensemble coachings, as well as academic and professional seminars, with MSM’s world-renowned faculty.


  • Manhattan School of Music Distance Learning partners with InstantEncore to present a masterclass with renowned baritone Thomas Hampson as the first live video stream of a classical music event across an iPhone/iPod touch application.


  • Manhattan School of Music and Polycom, Inc. build on their decade-long relationship and sign a strategic partnership agreement that, among other important points, expands the Polycom network that powers the Distance Learning Program to reach more students throughout the United States and the world with a broader set of offerings, thereby ensuring that children of all ages are given the opportunity to be exposed to top-notch arts education despite their socioeconomic status or geographic location.
  • Manhattan School of Music and the Australian National University announce the formation of an international distance learning partnership that sees the formation of a unique relationship using state-of-the-art music videoconferencing facilities and the high-speed networks of Internet2 for one-on-one lessons, masterclasses, ensemble coachings, professional development sessions, virtual staff and student exchanges, and collaborative research into best practice in music performance and education over long distances.
  • Manhattan School of Music launches a new online digital library which promises instant access to the Distance Learning Program’s extensive video archive of all past events, classes, and lessons.


  • Manhattan School of Music launches the Virtual Music Studio pilot program designed to reach home-based learners via desktop conferencing.

“Thank you for providing this experience for my students….It provided a better focus to topics that we had already implemented.”

Jackson Local Schools


  • MSM partners with the Nebraska Arts Council and Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council to create a new distance learning model in which credit-based music instruction is delivered to students throughout the state of Nebraska.


  • MSM launches its official YouTube channel, featuring 7 seasons of Thomas Hampson Voice Master Class video excerpts and receiving nearly 25,000 hits in 3 months. Coupled with its Facebook and Twitter presence, the Distance Learning Program is now fully engaged in social media.
  • The Manhattan School of Music Distance Learning Program establishes an endowed fund “The Melos Fund for Distance Learning Innovation at Manhattan School of Music” with a cornerstone gift from the Ervika Foundation.


  • MSM Distance Learning announces the Digital Scholars Program enabling students to train and teach music programs to K-12 classrooms around the globe.
  • MSM Distance Learning’s inaugural use of LOLA technology in support of the Hampsong Foundation’s Song in Dialogue: A Learning Performance in collaboration with the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance.Through direct fiber optic connections, audio and video signals take 20 milliseconds to travel from MSM to Michigan, enabling near perfect real-time interaction.


  • The Distance Learning Program expands into a Hybrid Learning model with the integration of a new Learning Management System — Kannu — specifically designed and developed for creative arts education.


  • MSM Distance Learning webcasting series expands to include Facebook LIVE streaming, providing greater access to global arts learning. First fully online social science course offered to MSM students.


  • MSM Distance Learning scales use of Canvas Learning Management System to entire MSM faculty and student body.


  • MSM begins design and development of new online degree completion program for performing arts professions with an estimated launch in 2020.

“This video conference was very engaging, educational and interesting for both the students and the adults. My students learned a great deal about China and were blogging about their experience after they left!”

Palermo Elementary School (NY)

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