How Do I Keep Music Students in the Modern World?

How Do I Keep Music Students in the Modern World?

By Steve Freeman

As music teachers, we compete daily with our students busy schedules and extracurricular activities. Add video games and social media into the mix and the battle for practice time is lost. How many times have we all heard “I didn’t have time to practice this week because…..” Now more than ever it seems like music lessons are viewed as just another weekly drop off activity that does not require any practice outside of the lesson. Students want instant gratification so what do they do? they jump on the internet to learn a song that they are not prepared to learn by someone not qualified to teach it, I hate that!

Like most of you I am constantly searching for practice tools to keep students motivated and engaged so they will continue taking lessons. There is a demand within the teacher community to find a solution to this problem. To fulfill this need, a group of well known educators have developed a new practice platform called Achieve Music. AM gives students a live performance evaluation during their home practice time. Practice results are graphically displayed on a computer or mobile device and can be monitored by the teacher and parent. Low scores and infrequent practice will alert the teacher and parent to intervene, all results can be viewed on a student dashboard.

Achieve Music provides instructors a seeded library of content including method book favorites, lead sheets, and exercises that can be assigned to students via email.
Even cooler, instructors can upload their own original exercises and record audio examples direct to Achieve Music without needing an interface or special cables. All content to the Achieve Music platform has the MatchMySound assessment technology attached to create a game like environment, truly an answer and solution to make learning easier, more efficient and fun.

Results of a Survey: Can Hobby Players Read Music

Results of a Survey: Can Hobby Players Read Music

Some time ago we held a poll on a popular online guitar school’s website and asked visitors how do they learn their new pieces and first we asked them a very simple question: How do you mostly read new pieces? This is what we got:


Seems that we have an intelligent audience because the majority can read music 🙂 OK, these are mostly grown up people (mean age 27 years, 66% male) and this is they way it should be. To verify the results and to see if anything has changed, we repeated the poll a year later and got very similar results: image (1)

Here we have both polls together and it seems pretty safe to assume that these are the proportions that one could use when planning a product for hobby guitarists: image (2)

Then I thought: ‘Wait a minute, we asked how they learn mostly, but it can be that some people read both tab and standard notation.’ Again, we just asked them. This is what I got: image (3)

Seems like we were right – of course there are people who read both notations. And it looks like most of the people are happy with what they have as only about 15% say they don’t read music but would like to. Of course, the picture would be very different for pianists and string players as they simply don’t use tablature.

Rhythm, Meter, Tempo – What’s the Difference

Rhythm, Meter, Tempo – What’s the Difference

When we started working on automatic feedback then pretty soon we had to start answering questions about the difference of some qualities of a sound. For example, when we talk about evaluating one’s timing then are we talking about rhythm, tempo or meter? All very different aspects. So what are they?

  1. To produce rhythm, we need at least two notes, and they should not be played very far from each other in time. If I play one note today and the next one tomorrow, it won’t be perceived as rhythm. Rhythm is what characterizes the relations between lengths and pitches of notes.
  2. Meter is produced by regular recurrence of stressed and unstressed beats. The rule of thumb says that that the first beat of a bar is always stressed. However, there are several types of dances where the stress is elsewhere.
  3. Tempo is used to characterize how quickly it all is happening – the greater the tempo, the shorter each note will get, and vice versa.

If there is a dot next to the note, it will add 50% to its duration. For instance, a dotted quarter note would be the length of a quarter plus an eighth.

In time signature, the more important number is the upper one – it shows how many beats there are in a bar. Time signature C means 4/4. This is an ancient time signature, abbreviation from common time, and it is indeed the most common time signature.

One important feature of the MatchMySound automatic feedback algorithm is that in addition to assessing pitch it listens to the timing of the player and indicates where things go wrong (or, let’s not say ‘wrong’ but ‘different’)