Frustration often sets in when a child first learns to play an instrument. (Photo: Alexey Losevich/Shutterstock)

Parents, don't cancel your kids' music lessons just yet

Apps can help make practicing an instrument more fun.

If you’re a kid, chances are you have two categories of activity in your life: learning and playing. And the two are mutually exclusive, despite your parents' incessant pleas and arguments to the contrary.

If you’re a parent, you know those pleas and arguments aren’t working.

Yuval Kaminka decided it didn’t have to be that way. So he did what many tech-savvy millenials do these days to solve problems – he made an app for that.

"The core problem is that practicing an instrument doesn’t become enjoyable until you cross a certain level of proficiency," Kaminka, CEO of Israeli startup JoyTunes, told PandoDaily. "And most people quit before they get there."

Kaminka was studying for his master’s degree in computer science at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, when he began toying with the idea of using "gamification" – a startup-industry term for turning an everyday, low-tech task into a game – to make learning music fun for kids. The idea, he said, was to get young learners over that "beginner's hump" where they feel like they’re no good at the instrument, and practicing is a chore rather than a privilege. He achieves this through fun, visually stimulating programs that use a point system to reward users when they hit the right notes.

And so far, it’s a winning formula.

Since its founding in 2010, JoyTunes has grown to produce some of the most popular learning apps in the iTunes App Store. 

And it's not just parents who are taking notice. Sivan Finn, JoyTunes' vice president of marketing, told From the Grapevine that JoyTunes' apps also are used widely by music teachers, which ensures consistency between practice and the actual lessons. 

"Any way of incorporating technology into the practice and playing of a musical instrument is sure to enhance the child's engagement," Finn said.

JoyTunes' free iPad app, Piano Dust Buster, works in tandem with the piano, which Kaminka said is a natural gateway to other, more complex instruments. While there is no shortage of music apps in circulation today, Kaminka said the difference with Piano Dust Buster is that it uses life-sized keys that make it easier for early learners to practice. 

recorder_sc2 A screen image from Recorder Master, another app developed by JoyTunes. (Photo: JoyTunes)

To round out his vision and digital expertise, Kaminka enlisted his brother, professional oboist Yigal Kaminka, to be the "musical soul" of JoyTunes. Along with Chief Technical Officer Roey Izkovsky (otherwise known as "resident tech genius"), the three men consider themselves JoyTunes' "founding team."

"As with everything, our kids are only willing to learn when they don’t think of it as hard work," Finn said. "Our goal is to lift the stigmas attached to learning musical instruments and inject the passion of music into everyday lives."

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