IDRS Podcast with Nuria Cabezas Castańo

Terry B. Ewell, Interviewer

2018 Aug. 29. Granada, Spain


Terry B. Ewell: It is my pleasure to be here with Nuria Cabezas Castańo.

Nuria Cabezas Castańo: Hi, it is my pleasure too. Thank you for the invitation.

TBE: Nuria just had a presentation today at the International Double Reed Conference, which is in Spain this year. I hope it all went well. Did it go well for you?

NCC: Yes, I had really good students and I enjoyed it.

TBE: I am fascinated, Nuria, because you teach a lot online. Can you tell me about when you started teaching online and what you do now online?

NCC: I started teaching online when I was working in South Africa. I was principal oboe there in the Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra. Besides the symphony program we have parallel educational programs in the schools there. So, I realized that many oboe students there did not have the opportunities that we have in Europe or the States to have access to a musical system or a teacher. They were asking me for help and for lessons. I couldn’t manage to help everyone, it was too difficult. So, I started thinking about the solution. What could I do to help the students, people who wanted to improve on the instrument. So, I thought that the Internet would be the solution for that. I started to build on the platform, the basics. I was working and studying how to do it for two years before the launch of the website, the digital content, and social media. So, this is how this all started. It was really complicated because I did have to learn a lot of different stuff, how to create the content, how to edit the videos and the images, the website…

TBE: Excellent, so you have videos. Are they on YouTube or just on your website?

NCC: I have both. I have my digital channel—MusicBayside oboe—and I have logged videos every week in Spanish and English.


TBE: Wow!

NCC: I have versions of each video. All of the content is not translated in the same video, but I have two separate videos: one for English and one for Spanish with the same content. And at the same time, I put everything in the social network like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn. I have the pages for Music Bayside. In the website I reunite everything plus that online lessons, which are on my website. So, if someone goes to the website you will find there the videos, the video content, the blog posts. Also, they can link to the social media that they want to see more.

TBE: Your updates.

NCC: Yes, of course, every week I add content. Yes, there are new videos.


TBE: That is a lot of work to do it every week.

NCC: Yes, I have to be very organized and work in advance. I have all of the content at least one or two months in advance from the date I want to upload.

TBE: OK. Give me an example of a video you just produced. What was the content? How long is it?

NCC: I have different types of videos. At the beginning I wanted to do different things. I tried to see; what the people who contacted me; what they really needed or wanted.

TBE: Sure

NCC: So, I created one video that people wanted about circular breathing.

TBE: OK, like I did for bassoon.

NCC: So, how to explain it and I also played some works for solo oboe. But now I am just doing it all with a plan. I wanted to create first of all videos for beginners: content with how to read notes, with the scales, with the embouchure, with body posture, with stretches for musicians. All of the basics for the instrument. But it takes a lot of time. So, I go slowly, but my objective is to create for all levels. I am starting now with the basics.

TBE:  You are just like my mirror image! I did this bassoon and you are doing this for oboe. That is wonderful. Now, do you also teach one on one lessons online? What is the platform you use? Skype, Facetime?

NCC: I use mostly Skype. It has improved a lot in the last few years: the sound, the images. With using an extra microphone in the computer the sound quality is …

TBE: What extra microphone do you recommend for Skype? Is it the USB microphone?

NCC: Yes, the USB plugin.

TBE: Large diaphragm?

NCC: There are a lot of different microphones. It depends on prices. It depends on how much you want to spend. But even if someone wants to do the lesson without [the external] microphone, it is quite fine on the computer. It is not necessary to get the lesson. In order to get in contact with a teacher online, it is not really necessary. If you have it, of course, it is better.

TBE: I have two questions about Skype. I have also used Skype with lessons. I have noticed if the sound from the instrument goes right into the microphone, sometimes you get all of this distortion. Have you found the same thing? It is better to have the student face away from the microphone so it gets the sound from the side.

NCC: Is the same when you play live. If the microphone is not a very good one and it is placed near the bell of the instrument…

TBE: Not good.

NCC: the sound is changed. You cannot perceive anything in the sound. But if you just move a little bit to the side it is much better. I think this is not just a problem of online teaching. It happens that if you record yourself at home, you have to take into account these kinds of things as well.

TBE: Yes, you are right about that. The other question I have for you is that I notice with Skype—I don’t know if you have studied the way in which it is transmitted. The sound in Skype is broken up in packets, separated, and then recompiled. If they are not all recompiled at that time, then there will be a break in the sound likedtdt” “dt,” almost like tonguing. If you have a single tone “Do--------” and all of the packets don’t come at the end you will hear “Do dt Do dt.” Did you often notice this?

NCC: Yes, I think the important thing is to have a good Internet connection. Everyone has what they have, they cannot choose sometimes. But have the cable connected to your computer. Do not use Wi-Fi. It improves the notes with the cable. My recommendation when we sometimes have problems with that I will ask, “Are you using a cable for the Internet to your computer or are you using Wi-Fi” If I get an answer about the Wi-Fi, then I will say for the next lesson try to connect the Internet to your computer and it normally improves. Technology is improving every day. We are getting improvements, but now we have what we have. Of course, it is sometimes difficult to teach online when you have these kinds of problems and interruptions. But I think even with this problem it is fantastic.

TBE: Do you still play in South Africa?

NCC: No, I quit that job. I lived there for three years, but it was too far from Spain. I really wanted to come back.


TBE: To be here with your family.

NCC: Yes, I am happier. I had really great moments there: programs and wonderful conductors and soloists. But I had to make the decision sometime. The years are going and some point I had to decide: OK, am I going to stay here forever or a lot of time or decide to leave. My partner, my husband now, we were together there. We decided to leave and I said, OK, I don’t mind. I will do something. I left the job and I came back to Spain. It was hard at the beginning, but now I am really happy. I work a lot and now I am starting to see the results. I changed, I learned a lot of different things. Before I knew how to play oboe in an orchestra, and I liked to teach. I always like to teach.  But I didn’t know anything about new technologies. I started learning there, thinking about things. But now that I have come back here I have the time because I left what I had. I have time, which is the most valuable thing that you can have. I have started working on this and this. I am busy, I have lots of things to do. After a break, after a change in my life, I am happy.

TBE: Well, Nuria it has been wonderful talking to you. Thank you very much for the interview.

NCC: Thank you, thank you very much.


Copyright © 2018 By Terry B. Ewell. All Rights Reserved.