Challenging the ‘norm’ in music education

Challenging the ‘norm’ in music education

The thing we all know as musicians is that we never stop learning: that our journey of learning and discovery is life-long. For most of us, we set out on that journey thanks to an inspirational teacher, whose passion for music lit something in ourselves and drove us onwards.

Of course this opportunity to be inspired by great performers, teachers and writers shouldn’t just be the privilege of the few. The on-going discovery and enjoyment of music  – whether as performers or ‘active’ listeners’ – should be within the grasp of us all, irrespective of class, age or background. After all, there’s no limit to how much we can learn, explore and improve as musicians – given the right access and support. But until now, affordability and access have meant that barriers to entry have continued to exist. With the advent of digital technology, we are able to knock these barriers down at last.

Meanwhile we listen to the concerns of music educationalists who observe that pressures on young people – other subject areas, increasingly limited free time, distractions of digital/gaming/social media … – have led to a substantial drop off in those continuing to engage with music beyond the age of 11. In the UK, the accepted ‘norm’ of a person’s progress in music – the taking and passing of graded music exams – has for many become just an additional, unwanted pressure rather than a motivational force for good. The number of people taking classical music exams is in consequence in decline.

Music educationalists are asking: how do we engage with a young person’s desire to progress and engage with music? How can we support teachers in the right way, with a breadth of resources that will inspire and challenge both them and their students, and lead to a much deeper engagement with music? How do we find a way to demonstrate that music is multi-faceted: that it is not just about performing the repertoire, but gaining a wider understanding of music and culture, history and context?

We believe that digital has the potential to help answer some of these questions: if it is done well, it has the power to immerse us in music study and complement traditional teaching methods rather than conflict with them. In the Tido Music app, we are launching with the Piano Masterworks collection – where interactive scores of the core piano repertory sit alongside exclusive video performances, tutorials and historical context from leading music publishers, artists and musicologists. It provides a unique opportunity to watch inspirational artists and experts from around the world perform and talk about our great music: sharing their expertise with us … wherever we are.

Music is something innate within us; it is part of what defines us as human. Digital will never replace this physical experience of music – but it can help to inspire, connect and lead to greater discovery. We are committed to working hand in hand with musicians – teachers, students and performers – to provide the best experience we can. We are all motivated by the same reasons – to inspire students to develop a life-long love of music; to deepen their understanding; to broaden their knowledge of the repertoire and given them context; to help them develop strategies for self-assessment and on-going learning. If you would like to get involved, we would love to hear from you.

Kathryn Knight, CEO

(Photo credit: James Bickerton)

The idea behind Tido

The idea behind Tido

I’ve always been obsessed with music. And also, strangely, with music notation – the dots on the page which are like magical signs, able to unlock all the emotion music awakens in us. This obsession has carried me through my life – as a four-year-old violin student, a choirboy and organist through to a baritone, a music copyist, percussionist and conductor.

It was as a conductor, preparing editions and parts for performance, and as a tech hobbyist, that I became more and more aware that music printing and sharing was kind of broken. What if I wanted to see my music larger or smaller? What if I wanted to import markings from my colleagues on the fly or wanted to see other people’s parts in sync with mine? What if I wanted to hear performances in sync with the printed notes, see alternate versions, right on the page or to suggest a correction to the publisher for adoption?

All these frustrating thoughts coalesced, prompting my own lightbulb moment: I was conducting opera in New York in 2010, right at the time the first iPad was launched. I queued with everyone else at the Apple Store for my own iPad, and I could see instantly that, with this device, it would be possible to connect many different kinds of musical experience together.

This was the seed for Tido. I spent the next couple of years in my own mental lab, thinking about how it might be possible to integrate notation with audio, then video, then text… My imagination proliferated, to the point where I realised that the iPad could make all this possible, but only if I could design an architecture where these elements could be intelligently linked, then aligned.

I took my idea to my friends at Edition Peters, and for the next two years we talent-spotted across the globe. We hauled hackers out of bedrooms in Seattle, we hunted engravers and techies across three continents, and together we assembled a unique collective of visionaries and crazies, all of whom shared our intensity and conviction. Now, in 2016, we are at the moment where the flat world of traditional music publishing yields to an enriched, multi-dimensional space. Music, in all its volume and power, can unfold to meet and to nourish us, and to connect us with each other.

Brad Cohen, Founder

(Photo credit: Carolyn Chard)