Using artificial intelligence to help make practice more useful and rewarding

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Tonara started life as a means for professional musicians to perform from a tablet computer. Following the player’s position in the music, the software would turn the pages as necessary and eliminate the requirement to touch or swipe the screen. The same technology has now been harnessed to ‘listen’ along to a student’s performance and grade it for accuracy of intonation, rhythm and speed. ‘This allows students to practise more effectively,’ says Ron Regev, Tonara’s chief music officer, ‘and it supports their teachers’ attempts to motivate them, too.’

A library of music compatible with the ‘feedback’ function is available in-app, drawn from open-access sources, publishers including Schott and Faber. It also features numerous studies and exercises written especially for Tonara. In addition, teachers can upload their own recordings of other pieces, against which the app will then grade their students’ attempts.

‘It can be very hard for students to know how well they might be doing in a particular piece,’ Regev says. ‘What we’ve tried to do is create a digital teaching assistant that can help take care of the mundane stuff between each lesson and highlight to the student the areas that require more attention.’

Tonara appraises the elements of the student’s playing that can be evaluated objectively, and scores them from A to D. ‘Once a student has achieved the top marks, an audio accompaniment is “unlocked” for them to play along with.’ Along with a visual progress tracker that presents ‘badges’ for good work and a function that allows teachers to award ‘stickers’, this keeps motivation high between lessons, according to Regev.

‘And, in turn, that helps to maximise progress. We also have partnerships with big studios like Sony, Universal and Disney,’ he adds, ‘so teachers can introduce music from their students’ favourite films. And, of course, they can practise it with the support of our “feedback” tool.’

Tonara app free to download, subscription $4.99 per month