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Polycom and Manhattan School of Music Deploy UC Everywhere to Enable World-Class Arts Education Anywhere
Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

As Schools Sustain Cuts in Arts Education Funding, Polycom Telepresence Sends Elite Educators from New York to Global Classrooms

NEW YORK and PLEASANTON, Calif. - Mar 15, 2011 : With budget shortfalls plaguing schools throughout the world, arts educators are finding it tougher than ever to cultivate the next generation of professional musicians, artists and creative geniuses.
Now an expanded collaboration between Polycom, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM), a global leader in unified communications, and the Manhattan School of Music (MSM), a preeminent international conservatory of music, is putting the world's most sought-after musicians and music educators in classrooms around the globe – at prices even budget-constrained schools can afford.
Building on a decade-long relationship, Polycom and MSM are expanding the Polycom visual communications network that powers MSM's extensive distance learning program. MSM uses Polycom telepresence and the Polycom UC Intelligent Core™ to reach thousands of students a year with academic and performance offerings in classical, jazz, world music and opera. Its Global Conservatory program, which offers content to K-12 schools, higher education and community-based organizations, built around Polycom standards-based UC solutions, has been called "the gold standard in music distance learning." As Robert Sirota, president of Manhattan School of Music describes, "We take great pride in our ongoing and deepening partnership with Polycom. As pioneers and innovators in distance learning, our two organizations are bringing world-class music instruction and performance to every corner of the world through high-tech telepresence. The ability to interact on the most sophisticated platforms in real time has had a transformative effect at MSM, making us a truly global conservatory.
Under the expanded collaboration, MSM will further scale its network and programs to reach more students throughout the United States and the world with a broader set of offerings. For instance, the school recently extended its programs to students in Australia via a new partnership with the Australian National University.
"At a time when budget cuts threaten arts education, telepresence is a seismic game changer," said Christianne Orto, associate dean and director of recording and distance learning at MSM. "Polycom telepresence and UC Intelligent Core allow us to deliver world-class instruction to students at all levels, and at a cost that any school can afford. It puts some of the most sought-after musicians and educators face-to-face with students who otherwise might never have the opportunity to even meet them, let alone be coached or taught by them."
Omaha Jazz Central Station, the afterschool extracurricular vocal jazz group at Omaha Central High School in Nebraska, participated in three coaching sessions with composer and conductor Nathan Hetherington, an MSM teaching artist.. "It was like having Nathan right there in the room with us," said Colin Brown, choral director at Omaha Central High. "My students thought it was very cool to transport themselves a very long distance to work with a director who teaches at the Manhattan School of Music and who brought a different perspective from mine."
Music Mode™ and UltimateHD™ Video Raise the Game
Orto said Polycom telepresence is uniquely suited to distance education – and music education, in particular – because of groundbreaking technology like Music Mode, an exclusive feature of Polycom HDX telepresence solutions that more faithfully reproduces live music picked up by microphones. Music Mode, which is a standard feature in Polycom telepresence solutions, was developed with MSM so remote listeners can hear the true sound of instruments and voices produced by remote participants.
UtlimateHD, high-definition (HD) video, content sharing and audio enhanced with Music Mode combine to offer unprecedented levels of fidelity in a field where quality standards are uncompromising. In fact, Polycom telepresence has allowed students vying for a full-time spot at MSM in New York to audition remotely, saving them thousands of dollars by sparing them from having to travel to New York for a 10-minute audition. One student even successfully auditioned for a chair in a professional Canadian orchestra via telepresence.
Some of the world's most respected performers are also using telepresence to mentor up-and-coming professionals. "I can be in Zurich and log into our studio in New York, and I can work very effectively with students," said Thomas Hampson, an internationally celebrated American baritone and MSM trustee whose intense performance schedule prevents him from regularly mentoring students in person. "As more people and institutions have access to features like Music Mode, institutions like the Manhattan School of Music have a real opportunity to reinvigorate America's liberal arts education system in a practical and financially viable way."
"The Manhattan School of Music is shining model for world-class distance learning. Its expanded efforts are enabling budget-strapped schools to keep crucial arts education components in their curriculum, while helping teachers meet state standards and availing students to learning experiences that enlighten and inspire," said Russ Colbert, global education market director at Polycom. "Polycom is proud to continue its longstanding collaboration with MSM. It's a great example of what happens when we work to extend UCEverywhereSM."