Today Wednesday, 25th May 2022

A symphony with a tablet

A symphony with a tablet

Hobby musicians want to make music with others despite their lockdown. Others use the extra time at home to learn an instrument. New apps help in both cases.

“It’s crazy how it explodes,” says Florian Plenge, pointing to a diagram. The bright offices of his start-up in Berlin-Friedrichshain have been swept empty. Only a few employees sit at the computers. Normally 30 people work here, now almost all of them work from home.

“You can see exactly to the day when the lockdown began in March 2020 in Germany.” Suddenly there were almost three times as many clicks on the Skoove music app. People had to stay at home, had time, and tried to fill them up. For example, learning the piano online.

Learn piano via app – whenever and wherever you want

The learning app Skoove has been around since 2014. It aims to provide easy access to piano playing. People should be able to play what they want – pop songs, but also classical. The most important thing: it should be fun.”It starts immediately with learning a well-known, popular melody, and we then pack all the hard knowledge that you need – on the go – with it. Without the user really noticing it, he learns then also reading music, ear training – everything you need to play an instrument well. ” Because the makers of Skoove want to get quickly to the moment that affects people the most. “That’s when you play yourself. When you basically close your eyes.”Learn piano when and where you want – and for a low price: That is the big advantage compared to conventional instrumental lessons. There is still feedback, even without a teacher. The app recognizes whether a note was played correctly or held long enough and corrects it immediately.

50 percent growth in educational apps

When it comes to music learning apps, which, despite having fun, put the didactics in the foreground – and are not just intended for “gamified” pastime – Skoove is among the top five worldwide. Lessons are offered in eight languages; Users are located in Great Britain, the USA, and Japan, among others.Basically, you are late in this area if you compare music learning apps with learning apps for languages, for example. That is changing rapidly now. One catches up. But of course, Corona has basically brought an enormous acceleration. The Germans spent 45 percent more time with learning apps in the second quarter of 2020 than at the end of 2019, says the market research company App Annies.

Making music together online

Interest in platforms for musical exchange also increased enormously during the corona pandemic. Whether it’s instrumental lessons or the joint rehearsal online: The music world has had to completely change, says Matthias Krebs from the App Music Research Center at the Berlin Career College of the University of the Arts. Platforms for this have been around since 2010, but there was hardly any interest, and some of them have been discontinued. The possibilities of optimizing a joint online sample, for example by minimizing the annoying time lag, have also been around for a long time. Only the demand wasn’t there.It was only through Corona that there was suddenly a huge community and therefore a huge need. “For me as a scientist, the interesting thing is: How do people solve the problems when using these platforms, what strategies do they develop?” A decisive further development has taken place through feedback, exchange, and also through more competence among the users.At the beginning of 2020, there was still no serious talk about distance teaching or rehearsals for music schools. “It was clear to everyone at the time that it wouldn’t work,” says Krebs, who also advises the Association of German Music Schools on digitization. “Now senior choirs are doing it themselves, the threshold is now incredibly low.” Some of the music schools are very innovative, but that varies from state to state.

The tablet or mobile phone as an instrument

The scientist is happy about the low threshold; it is also the focus of his actual research focus: apps that turn cell phones and tablets into musical instruments. Krebs holds up a tablet with dots and colored squares spread over it. He touches her, and orchestra sounds. Then he switches to another app. “What are we going to play today? Oh, I’ll take the oboe. Or no, I’d rather play the electric guitar,” he says and starts playing.The whole world of music in a matter of seconds – that’s the great thing: The possibility of creating sounds without any previous musical training and then realizing: “I’ll do that, it sounds like music”. All of this can then also be described with vocabulary such as third and dominant – but you don’t have to. The classic opera singer Matthias Krebs is on stage worldwide with his DigiEnsemble Berlin – the professional musicians all with tablets in hand. “The question we ask ourselves is: Can we manage to groove? Can we manage to do an exciting interpretation of Bach where the audience says it is right?”

Changed perception through technology

It’s an experiment that revolves around how technology changes our perception. Cancer is important: “The best flute remains the flute.” It is not about replacing conventional instruments; music with apps and digital devices is simply something different. Florian Plenge says something similar about his piano learning app Skoove: “We cannot completely replace music teachers. The subtlety of interaction, the subtlety of feedback that a real teacher can give, we can do with the app – at least in the next few years – not achieved. I find it rather exciting to work with music teachers. “Because Plenge is certain: After the pandemic, people would go to the piano teacher again. But he doesn’t think that’s why they’ll stop learning with Skoove.


Iris Romana

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