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Developing an online practice system for all students and teachers

Ben Chan

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Published: June 3, 2014 at 2:31 PM [UTC]

Hey, fellow musicians (both in practice and at heart)!

I'm teaching several violin students right now, and one of the hardest things for me to tell is if my students are actually practicing and what it is that they're doing during each practice session. After lots of brainstorming, I've come up with an online practice system idea and was wondering if I could get some feedback from you regarding my idea.

The basic idea is to provide an online practice system designed for computers and tablets/phones where a student can log in, click a timer button, and then stay on a single webpage for the length of their practice time. The webpage would be set up like a dashboard and include things like:

- Timer, metronome, tuner
- Goals, repertoire, notes (potentially from teacher as well as student)
- Area to search for and watch videos/read sheet music
- Skill and knowledge based games to teach/reinforce sight-reading, dictation, theory, etc.

As a kid I would've loved to play games that taught me how to read music and recognize it by ear, especially if the games were fun and engaging. As a teacher I'd love to have access to my students' practice sessions so I can get a better idea of what they've actually been doing during the week and to take a few minutes here and there to provide written guidance outside of lessons when appropriate.

I'm interested in whatever thoughts you have regarding this idea, especially if it already exists somewhere online (though I was unable to find anything like it). In particular, would you and your students be interested in trying this system yourselves?


Posted on June 3, 2014 at 3:02 PM
I really like your ideas, especially having on-screen tools and timers.
Just a couple of things that came to me as I read:
-can you program some sort of "auto-accelerator?" The student would have to check off each repetition, which would initiate a faster tempo from the metronome till a given number of reps was completed.
-although a few violinists have recorded etudes, I think there's still a pretty big hole in that area. Sure there are plenty of recordings of Paganini, but what about all the other lower-level rep? Even Sevcik or other exercises.

Maybe we could start a "record all the etudes" project on this site? Who wants to take Wohlfart?

Posted on June 3, 2014 at 3:02 PM
Hi! you can somehow do that with SmartMusic already. It's not a webpage but a piece of software, but it's pretty awesome.
Posted on June 3, 2014 at 5:41 PM
I guess the question here is how to make sure that the users follow it routinely and add notes in the website. The success and failure of this kind of idea depends on users and how proactive they are to diligently follow it.
Posted on June 3, 2014 at 8:22 PM
I think that this is such a great idea, to be honest as a student i personally want to improve but usually all i do is just work on my concert music. It wasn't untill I started taking music seriously that i realized i need to do more then just work on my pieces if an app like you claim is developed i would like a link please..
Posted on June 3, 2014 at 9:07 PM
The entry level cost for a programmable web presence is about $15/month for a Cloud server. That also gets you about 20mb of data storage which should be fine for quite a few students. There would some modest additional charge for bandwidth (sending information to the students over the web).

I like Microsoft, but Google and Amazon are two other popular providers.

There would be a "fixed" cost for a domain name, like "". You can check out godaddy or any of the other domain name providers for pricing.

The big ticket item is developing the web application. I would probably write it so you can market it to other teachers for their students. Might as well some money on the side to cover the cost of the Cloud server.

I would be interested in putting something together for you in exchange for a "free" membership to your website and maybe a virtual lesson or two.

Posted on June 4, 2014 at 4:10 AM
I would most definitely be interested in this, and I know several people who would also be interested. It sounds like an amazing idea.
From Corwin Slack
Posted on June 4, 2014 at 4:25 AM
You could do that for Ben but he is a web developer himself of some skill.
From Martin Lovén
Posted on June 4, 2014 at 11:40 AM
There is an app named: Music in practice. I use it on Android. It's about counting repetitions when you practice. Maybe this could be what you are looking for?
From Sal Peralta
Posted on June 6, 2014 at 4:55 PM
I am glad to hear you thinking about this, Ben. I really appreciate your web site, but was very disappointed that the video format does not work for the iPad on most of the videos.

Regarding the idea for a single web page...

I don't think it would be necessary to try and create a one-sized fits all dashboard.

Better would be to use it as a clearing house for tools that people might need. Need a tuning app or a metronone? Here are some downloads and reviews. Having trouble learning a segment of a specific piece? Have you tried using looping software like Anytune Pro+? Not sure what pieces to select for your level? Here are some suggestions with downloads to IMSLP or to the pieces that you have transcribed?

I wish you the very best, though. The videos you produce are wonderful, as are the scores that you translate into sheet music.

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