Learning through Technology

| December 30, 2010

Background

MuseAmi develops iPhone apps that allow you to correct your pitch and produce music. I was interested in how these applications “level the playing” field for new music creators. MuseAmi creator, Bob Taub, has plans to continue developing the tool so it will translate what you sing into musical notation. They hope that the app will allow easier access to creating music.

Teaching with the Videos

Bob Traub says, “you don’t need musical training to be creative.” How do the apps that MuseAmi create allow this to happen. What other apps–or tools, or types of software–exist that allow beginners to have authentic creative experiences? Will these apps make their way into the classroom? If so, what will this do to the curriculum? How will it change the learning environment?

Extended Interview

When did you start playing music?

Bob, founder of MuseAmi: I don’t actually remember starting playing the piano or practicing music. My conscious memory doesn’t go back that far. I’m told that I started playing the piano when I was 3 and I have some vague recollections of reaching up to the bass keys of my parents’ piano and banging on them, thinking it sounded like thunder but I’ve always been involved in music as long as I’ve been aware.

George, programmer: So, let’s see my musical background involved playing piano as a child for 6 years or something and uh, I played guitar for a number of years, 12 or something and also I played bass for a little while. I was interested it rock music as a teenager, ska reggae kind of thing. I was interested in jazz. In college I was a lot more interested in modernist music, electronic music…by electronic I mean computer music. Making computer music which is something that I think is still really interesting and important, you know. So….music has been something I have valued a lot for a long time.

Alex, marketing: The very first instrument I played was the piano at my grandmother’s house and it was the same piano that my mother played and the only thing that was there at the time when I started tinkering were some of my mother’s old school books. Music school books. So at the time the only way to really learn an instrument was to have someone sit and guide you, sit beside you in sort of a more classical way were you would go to a music lesson once a week, you’d have practice to do and sort of memorization and things were a little bit more rigid.

How does MuseAmi application help people learn music?

Bob, founder of MuseAmi: In order to perform the functions that I wanted to be completely transparent for anyone, we had to invent a kind of tech that mimicked the human brain. I know what I do as a musician and I know that I learned a lot of what I know at a very early age, to be able to look at a piece of music and hear it just the way you can look at a printed page and hear the words, you can read silently, you don’t need to read aloud. And in similar fashion, if you have an idea, you can write it down in prose just as a musician when they have an idea can write it down in notation. So what had to be done in order to make this vision a reality was to form a method or series of methods for being able to do exactly what the musicians were able to do.

Would these tools have helped you as a musician?

Bob, founder of MuseAmi: If I had access to these tools when I was a kid it would have made my life immeasurably easier. I remember in particular slaving over reading music. Now it’s completely natural, when you learn a foreign language, you recognize it you know it. So I can think in music totally but it would have helped me enormously if I had these capabilities as a kid. In terms of how I got to where we are today, you know, I played so many concerts and I traveled so much and I accomplished a lot of what I wanted to do in concert life and I was kind of looking for new mountains to climb and when I had this particular idea and recognized that this could help literally millions of people, I realized it was too good of an idea to let go and I’m stubborn when I think of something and I think it’s good, I keep at it no matter what. So that’s why I pursued this to the point of finding the right people, forming a company and point now of having some initial products.