Can A Computer Game Teach You To Play Like Mozart?

By Michael J. Mintz February 21, 2011 Comments

Don’t we all wish we’d listened to our parents, just for once, and continued the long and arduous apprentissage of a musical instrument, eventually becoming a great musical virtuoso?

Or do only a select few have the skill to just pick up a musical instrument and learn it?

An Israeli startup has come to the conclusion that just about anyone in the world can become a great musician, by creating a computer program that fuses the fun a computer game, with the difficult stages of learning an instrument.

Using the platform of old-school Nintendo games with a panning two-dimensional world, JoyTunes users navigate through different levels with the use of correct pitch, notation, and intensity. In one of the games, only playing the right note will keep your plane from crashing!

The product’s technology uses complex computer codes that not only recognize correct notation and pitch, but can also filter through noise and static so the game can be played in almost any environment – quiet or noisy. The program can also adjust at each level to help perfect an individual’s performance, based on significant strengths and weaknesses and give immediate feedback, said Yuval Kaminka, CEO of JoyTunes.

To use the game, users will need the JoyTunes program, a standard computer microphone and any particular instrument, such as guitar, piano, clarinet, cello or even piccolo! “As long as it produces sound, an instrument will work on JoyTunes,” Kaminka explained.

While other music games like the popular Rock Band or Guitar Hero created enormous buzz around musical gaming, they primarily open users to the sensation of playing an instrument. JoyTunes, Kaminka explained, focuses on skill.

The CEO says his product works because “if we have fun [learning], we get better at it – it’s as simple as that.”

Kaminka’s original inspiration for JoyTunes came from watching his young nephew play the Nintendo Wii at a family gathering. While he excelled at the game, his nephew showed zero interest in practicing his instrument. “I saw how well he does in the video game and how lousy he was at playing and the only problem was motivation.”

Kaminka, along with his musician brother Yigal and other friends, decided to create a product that would combine the fun of videogames with the intensity of learning an instrument.

“I feel music is a wonderful way to express yourself and create something,” said Kaminka. It’s a shame when people give up on it because it’s too hard or tedious.

The team hopes JoyTunes, which currently costs $35, will be used both in schools and in homes.

Currently in its beta phase and available only for the recorder instrument, JoyTunes will soon teach other instruments including members of the string, woodwind, brass, and percussion families.

Photo courtesy Joytunes

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