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Who decides the Future of Musicianship?

A few days ago I attended a fantastic discussion panel session at The Hub, Westminster, entitled “The Future of Musicianship”. It was the first event put on by the newly-launched “Loving and Living Music” project, brainchild of Ben Hillyard and Heli Rajasalo.

The goal of the initiative is outlined in detail here but to give you an idea:

What we are looking for in the Loving & Living Music project is a definition or a description of musicianship that includes all aspects of musicianship across all genres and instruments. Having this definition will enable discussion of musicianship to take place on a wider scale than is possible today.

We see a gap in the way that music in commonly taught. With the Loving & Living Music project we are looking to provoke awareness and discussion among the music education sector about how Musicianship is and could be taught.

The future of musicianship is a subject close to my heart due to my work with Easy Ear Training, where we try to use modern technology to make learning music more fun, easy and effective.

The event was fascinating, and the discussion broad and interesting. I won’t try to recount the discussion (not least because the entire panel session is now available online) but the event was eye-opening for me in a number of ways.

Musicianship is not what I thought.

In my work at Easy Ear Training I live immersed in a world of aural skills and over time (more…)

How I got a preview of the Kindle 3 – and totally geeked out

I was a reluctant eBook adopter.

I love books, and devoured them so quickly growing up that my mum had to ration the number I was allowed to buy after I’d blown through the local library’s supply of children’s and teen fiction. I’d get through five or six paperbacks on a family holiday and then beg and plead to be allowed to buy a few more in bookshops we passed.

I grew up in a house full of books, and I remember vividly the moment when I realised what a gift that is. Alone in my parents’ house a couple of years after moving out, I found myself with some time to fill. I made a cup of tea, and thought for a few minutes about how I’d spend the time. I was wishing I’d brought my laptop so I could watch some TV or catch up on emails. Then I looked around, realised I was surrounded by bookcases full of wonderful books I’d never read, all pre-vetted by my dad (the most devout reader I’ve ever encountered) as being worthwhile.

I spent a blissful half hour wandering around the house, pulling out books almost at random, reading the backs, flicking through a few pages, and gradually building up a pile of about ten before I realised I had enough to occupy myself with!

I got stuck into one, brought the rest away with me to read later, and found myself appreciating in an altogether new way just how wonderful it is to be raised by parents who are avid readers.

The eBook quandry

The last 10 years have brought eBooks entirely into the mainstream, and caused a lot of people to pick sides: for or against. It seems like whether you love books or are only an occasional reader, you’ll find your own personal reasons to either adopt the eBook life wholesale, or shun it in favour of your musty paperbacks and the traditional reading experience.

I’m one of those in a third, less frequently mentioned category:

People who have pretty much adopted the eBook model – but feel guilty about it, and feel anxious and conflicted if they examine their decision too closely.


Harmonic Context in Ear Training (and the frustration of App Store reviews)

Being an Apple App Store developer is really a mixed bag. While it is streets ahead of other mobile platforms’ app stores in terms of platform consistency (which developers love), the market size, and audience for your apps, there are some deeply frustrating issues as well.

I want to briefly discuss one: the lack of two-way communication with users.

I’ll also look at some particular issues one user had with the RelativePitch app my company developed, around learning relative pitch with or without a harmonic context.

The App Store Review System

Users are free to write reviews of apps they download – and in my experience user reviews make an enormous difference to app sales. The App Store interface shows the most recent reviews of an app prominently, and having a negative review visible there can really impact sales.

A recent 1-star review can strongly influence App Store shoppers

A recent 1-star review can strongly influence App Store shoppers

What’s truly frustrating though is that developers have no way to respond to reviews, either publically or privately. We can’t email the users, and we can’t post a reply to their review. Some developers will respond within the app description text, but this isn’t scalable or particularly beneficial.

Sometimes a user will have misunderstood something, or somehow missed out on a large part of the app’s functionality. In a lot of cases this can be useful information: you can improve the app to aid the user’s understanding more in future. In other cases you just have to throw up your hands in the air and wonder what went wrong and whether the user spent even a couple of minutes trying to resolve their issue or looking at the help screens!

Once in a while there will be a review which puts me in a bad mood. Normally this is because they’re flaming the app without real justification – this inevitably affects the impression other potential customers get of the app, despite lacking substance.

And sometimes the reviewer raises interesting points which I disagree with, and I’m simply frustrated not to be able to respond.

Harmonic Context in Interval Training

One such reviewer appeared this week. They were kind enough to review both of our paid apps, leaving a 1-star rating and a strongly worded negative review for each. They raised some interesting points though, which I’d like to respond to here.

I’ve included the whole review below, and then again with my comments in-line.