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computers and piano practicing
#953357 02/18/09 09:48 PM
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Yeah, it's that guy working on a midi sequencer again :rolleyes:

My dream has always been to build a good app that would
help people learn to play keyboards.
A supplement to a good teacher.
To help them with their day to day practice and
"ease the burden" in any ways it could.

Maybe to help teachers, too.
Not in running their business,
but in setting up lesson plans,
tracking student progress and such.

Now I know that quite a few of the piano teachers here are QUITE tech savvy.
(mumble mumble BETTY! mumble mumble)

And I'd -really- like to know a few things you teachers know: (please)
I don't think it'll take more than 2 minutes to answer.
You could reply to this thread or PM me if that's preferable.

- do you have a "computer lab" where you teach?
and does it have software that helps students practice?

- can you customize the things the student works on with the software?
(fix up your own lesson plan - in areas your student needs work in)
(assign THESE 2 pieces of sheet music, for example.)

- does it keep track of how much the student practiced?
does it do a good job? keeping track of the first day the piece was assigned
and how many days the student has practiced it? Your and your student's notes?

- Any idea how much one of the average software packages in your computer lab costs?
And are any packages licensed per student? ($x per user)?

- Any general feedback you've got for building a GOOD piano practice app
would be most appreciated.


The type of app I'm building is one that's sort of a
"piano practice database".

In addition to the usual help of
- playing background tracks
(maybe a metronome, drum track, background tracks, etc)
- showing on screen sheet music
(either some scanned sheet music, or from a midi file.)
- recording your piano practice
(so you can save that ONE take that happens to not suck)

it'll also keep track =in each song= of what days you practiced
and your notes about where you are now, and what you're up to next time
And be able to generate a list of all the songs you're working on (WITH DATES),
that are in your rep,
and that you've successfully recorded
(and ones you're in the process of recording).

This information will be solid proof of a student's rate of progress.
And they'll have a sense of accomplishment when they see the list
of songs grow longer and longer.

I'm still a ways away from completing such an app.
But I =know= it'll help ME so I'm definitely working hard on it.
And I know teachers have some good ideas for me in this area smile

Anyways, thanks for any help you can give me laugh


http://PianoCheetah.app - my weird piano practice program
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Re: computers and piano practicing
#953358 02/18/09 11:17 PM
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Sorry, Steve,

I have little to nothing to contribute as I'm not using keyboards, computers, and programs in the studio due to my eye-popping helplessness.

From your description of your goal, I think you are looking at an age group of 10 years old and above, and probably someone who is past basic lessons and working toward finishing pieces.

I visited your website and liked the graphics very much. I think putting some activities like those into your outcome would be helpful, because you could use graphics for eye movement training, and finger exercises, and "rewards".

I think you have a huge collection of music listed that people really enjoy. I think an established musician is going to have the best luck in playing and learning these. If you could describe your "findings" in preparing some of these pieces, I'm sure others working on the same pieces would like to hear your "take" on what's involved in it - how to practice it, etc.

The record keeping would be helpful but is it possible for it to create it's own records without any/much help from the user.

I would want to work with an outcome already established as to goals and instruction.

(Sob, mumble mumble BETTY! mumble mumble, Sob, Sob!Totally helpless in contributing to your endeavor.)

I just don't have the language and probably have embarrassed myself (again) to the highest degree.

I am rooting you on, and saying I'd be interested in what you come up with. Good luck!

Give this guy what he's asking for here! Something is in the works in Steve's bright mind.

Betty

Re: computers and piano practicing
#953359 02/19/09 01:39 AM
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Ah, sorry for singling ya out, Betty smile

Well, I was reading through the newly renamed "Clavier Companion" (wierd name change for Keyboard Companion) and there's that one section where the guy talks about his keyboard lab.
And I thought I'd bug the teachers...

I know you're on pretty much every website in tarnation, so I kinda thought you miiight have a digital with midi and such.

Mostly just wondering how prevalent "a DP midi'd to a PC" is in any of the teachers' places of business.

Not really looking for anything deep or meaningful. Just kind of asking if you think a computer COULD be useful in a teaching setting for piano practice.

I know it'll be useful for my practice once i get a fewww more things ironed out.

And the day tracking would be all automatic.
Stamped into the midi file by the program and such.
And the songs' stats all compiled into something simple to read.
somewhat along the lines of
http://shazware.com/music/prac.html
But easier to read.

Thanks for the reply Betty.
You did answer my question, by the way smile


http://PianoCheetah.app - my weird piano practice program
Re: computers and piano practicing
#953360 02/19/09 02:25 AM
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Great technical fun ... but do you really think that the student wants to be reminded of PROGRESS in terms of distance (etc) along the lonely dusty road of learning how to play the piano ... this harsh information is exactly what the piano teacher is constantly ameliorating ... so as to keep the student pecker up ... a case of not looking back ... but daily forward to a fresh and rewarding new phase of enrichment.

BTW Few piano teachers do cartwheels over use of keyboards ... the acoustic grand is still the ultimate for playing a Chopin Nocturne.

Re: computers and piano practicing
#953361 02/19/09 11:34 AM
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Heheh. Ya always crack me up, btb smile

Well, I've definitely noticed that progress in piano practice is hard won.
But that first Thompson book...
I still look back and am quite pleased with myself.

I've figured out that the acoustic is the ultimate bit of kit.
But I'm middle aged and still can't afford one.
Nor will my wife agree to having such a monster inside frown
(Don't worry, my dream is still alive!)

If a teacher specializes in classical music,
I guess there's not a NEED for all that electricity.
But it sure couldn't hurt, right?
DPs and PCs are dirt cheap.

Don't the vast majority of teenagers and a good portion of adults come to you wanting to play rock?
Don't you NEED a dp for that?
Van Halen's "Jump" sounds terrible on an acoustic.
(Not that it's that great of a song anyway, but still.)

So is it really true that most teachers don't even have DPs?

I guess if most piano teachers are classical piano teachers,
then that could make sense.


http://PianoCheetah.app - my weird piano practice program
Re: computers and piano practicing
#953362 02/20/09 09:12 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by Stephen Hazel:

- do you have a "computer lab" where you teach?
and does it have software that helps students practice?
I do have a computer lab with a keyboard. It only helps students practice in the sense that they can play the keyboard as they wait for their lesson or their ride. I have many students who look forward to the time they get to play the keyboard. The software I have is only notation and theory.

Quote
- can you customize the things the student works on with the software?
(fix up your own lesson plan - in areas your student needs work in)
(assign THESE 2 pieces of sheet music, for example.)
No. I create lesson plan sheets on Word with the typical categories and then hand write them in during the lesson.

Quote
- does it keep track of how much the student practiced?
does it do a good job? keeping track of the first day the piece was assigned
and how many days the student has practiced it? Your and your student's notes?
No

Quote
- Any idea how much one of the average software packages in your computer lab costs?
And are any packages licensed per student? ($x per user)?
Less than $100 each.

Quote
- Any general feedback you've got for building a GOOD piano practice app
would be most appreciated.
Web-based would be best, that way the student can use it at home or in the studio by logging in. I have my students write their practice times down, but I often think that they just guess at them all right before lessons. It's very hard to get them to write down the times as they do them, and I'm not sure if this would help or not.

It may be a good application, except that the student would have to practice on a keyboard unless they happened to have a digital piano. I'm not sure I'd want students to always be practicing on a keyboard, especially if they do have an acoustic piano.


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Re: computers and piano practicing
#953363 02/20/09 09:24 AM
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I think there is potential here, but I don't know enough about how to implement.

Here's my experience with computer based education: when my kids were little they liked to play games on the PC. I had a simple rule, you must do one lesson of Mavis Beacon (Typing Tutor) before starting a game. As a result, both type at blinding speeds.


gotta go practice
Re: computers and piano practicing
#953364 02/20/09 09:45 AM
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I'm very skeptical about the usefulness of technology in music teaching.

People have been excited about the possibilities of MIDI and CAI for a couple decades now, yet no real gains have been seen.

Also, I've done a LOT of judging, and I've yet to notice a difference in knowledge and ability between those who do computer lab work and those who don't.

And I have to admit I'm a little proud of the fact that I don't have students use computers as part of their piano instruction, and they have no trouble at all in their theory or performance exams. That being said, I do encourage them to explore music resources online, but I let them do it at their leisure.

I consider myself to be pretty tech-savvy, and for me, the most useful things I have are:

Notation Software
Recording Software
A good video camera
A basic word processor
Band-in-a-Box

My online calendar for scheduling (which I sync with my phone so I can carry my schedule with me wherever I go.)

I also make use of my address book and have an easy way to send mass emails to my students and their parents.

The only practice tools I use are a metronome and an abacus.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: computers and piano practicing
#953365 02/20/09 10:07 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
I'm very skeptical about the usefulness of technology in music teaching.

People have been excited about the possibilities of MIDI and CAI for a couple decades now, yet no real gains have been seen.

Also, I've done a LOT of judging, and I've yet to notice a difference in knowledge and ability between those who do computer lab work and those who don't.

And I have to admit I'm a little proud of the fact that I don't have students use computers as part of their piano instruction, and they have no trouble at all in their theory or performance exams. That being said, I do encourage them to explore music resources online, but I let them do it at their leisure.

I consider myself to be pretty tech-savvy, and for me, the most useful things I have are:

Notation Software
Recording Software
A good video camera
A basic word processor
Band-in-a-Box

My online calendar for scheduling (which I sync with my phone so I can carry my schedule with me wherever I go.)

I also make use of my address book and have an easy way to send mass emails to my students and their parents.

The only practice tools I use are a metronome and an abacus.
I think one of the reasons for this is the common denominator is you still need to put in time to learn theory and/or piano, and the good teacher can pretty much tell right away whether that time has been put in without any apps.

Edit: Kreisler: what do you use the abacus for - counting repetitions?

Re: computers and piano practicing
#953366 02/20/09 12:10 PM
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Wow! Thank you so much for your responses.
I really respect all of you. You're kinda my heroes smile

Not quite what I was expecting, but that's why I asked.
And I'm glad I did!

Web based is a good idea.
Or at least a little "dump it all to my usb stick".

True, it wouldn't be much help with an acoustic.
But I'll just have to live with that.

I wouldn't think you'ld notice an ability difference between a computer user and non. Software is not going to teach you how to be expressive. Speed of knowledge acquisition MIGHT be a little greater, but probably not noticably so. And who cares about the speed, really.

But I'm looking forward to the conveniences of a detailed log without a paper mess. And a scrolling 2 lines of sheet music blown up as big as my poor eyes need it. Automatic page turns (page scrolls, sorta).
Conveniences like that. Won't make me a better player.
That's up to my piano teacher. Well, and me smile

I guess I could aim this thing more at the student than the teacher.
That might be a better "development progression".

First handle the at home practice stuff as conveniently as possible.
- Practicing where you record and the computer waits for you to find the RIGHT keys per the score.
- then record live as usual in metronome time.
- then record with YOUR tempo variations and have the background tracks "follow YOU".
- hop you to the places where what you play and what's scored don't match
- keep track of your daily progress - dates and notes
(when started, if it went to rep or a recording, when complete, when restarted, etc)

The student would add midi files and sheet music to "the list" in this case.


Then add in teacher hooks later (lesson plan-ish) stuff.
- Make it simpler to set up a midi file for recording into.
- Marking where the student needs work and notes about it.
- A streamlined "sheet music" / "screen shot of music" import.


Because it sounds like teachers just use simpler methods than software most the time.
And the one thing automation can't fight is simplicity smile

But I do see a few areas that might use some tweaks laugh

Anyways, I better go code.

Thanks again for your wonderful replies!


http://PianoCheetah.app - my weird piano practice program
Re: computers and piano practicing
#953367 02/20/09 12:23 PM
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I agree that students can learn just as much about theory without using computers, BUT it certainly could help reduce the amount of time you spend on theory in the lesson.

I use Music Ace Maestro, which is great. It is patient with you if you aren't getting it right away, and keeps you doing drills until you are consistently correct. On the other hand, if you already are understanding the concept, and therefore already consistently getting it right, it will breeze through to the next lesson.

Anyway, I think you can be just as successful without using a computer lab, but it can definitely help and reinforce concepts.

As far as helping students practice, it's certainly a possibility. It would be great if there was an app that had different practice strategies that you could assign to each student. For example, one student may need help realizing the importance of practicing one small section at a time. So the app could just show a little bit (just RH, one measure or phrase, or whatever). Once the student plays it correctly 5 times in a row or something, it would show the LH part. Once they do that, it would show hands together. Once they get that, it would go to the next section, etc.

I'm not sure there would be a way to have students actually practice everything they have on the keyboard with some sort of software. BUT I certainly could see the benefit of having an application that teaches certain practice strategies that they would then apply to their other music.


MTNA Nationally Certified Teacher of Music, Piano
Instructor of Music Theory, Accompanist
Member: MTNA, OhioMTA, SW District OhioMTA
www.mtna.org
www.ohiomta.org
www.swomta.org

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