By Matt Poole, full-time guitar teacher of 15 years, Chelmsford, UK
I discovered Yousician in Easter 2015. I was immediately drawn in by the interface and decided immediately to try it out on my pupils the next day. They were instantly engaged, and the process of learning suddenly became something not only did they want to do, but also to improve their performance levels with. As I continued to watch this engagement I noticed that there were many facets to Yousician which are hugely beneficial to the budding player. Here are some of them.
Eyes on the screen, not the instrument – this is an area which is something that I’ve always struggled to get pupils to do. Developing the sense of touch and discovering the spatial awareness and geography of the guitar is central to good progress. Beginners almost always look at their picking hand, which for me is a no-no. Yousician’s method requires full attention on the screen, thus the touch sense is heightened and developed rapidly.
Bang goes the drum – I should have an endorsement from the metronome users society (if it existed, I suspect it doesn’t), having pontificated over their usage and usefulness for years and years. However, it is an inevitability that, when given a new piece of paper-based music, the focus centres on pitch and rhythm is forgotten about. I’ve always understood music to be about getting two things right; the right notes, at the right time. You don’t have music unless you have both. Yousician brings the rhythm right from the outset, but in a way that develops the players inherent sense of rhythm.
Hocus Focus – I’m not a social scientist, or psychologist, but for some reason, the level of engagement and concentration I see when a pupil is using Yousician is unprecedented and unparalleled – far more so than when using a book. Maybe it’s because of colours and light and movement, and that there is a lot of information to take on board, I don’t know. But the delivery method utilised in Yousician switches the synapses very much to ‘on’.
We Are The Champions – I kept a spreadsheet of my pupils scores, and how much motivation they had to beat their own scores, or even more so their friends’, cannot be underestimated. They would check each week to see if anyone had beaten the high score. With the new social side of Yousician, I can have school versus school competitions, and everyone wants to do their best. Anything that can get a pupil to practice is a ‘good thing’.
The scope for Yousician is enormous. I have no doubt that they are scurrying around developing various new ideas; for the guitar I can see further development for learning scales and arpeggios, and hopefully standard notation, particularly rhythm notation – I think Yousician could do that wonderfully well. I would love to see Yousician for bass and ukulele as I also teach them. But it would be fascinating to see Yousician for violin, cello, trumpet etc – something that brings together modern technology with orchestra music would be very interesting. Also I’d like to see a tie in with the likes of Rockschool so pupils can use Yousician to take grade exams.
It’s too early to tell if Yousician is truly a ground-breaking and revolutionary product. It has certainly changed the way I teach and, more importantly, it has changed the way my pupils learn. Both have been fantastically positive and I look forward to seeing how Yousician develops, and to using it for many years to come.
Matt Poole has been a full-time guitar teacher for 15 years in Chelmsford, UK. He has taught hundreds of pupils in schools, academies and privately. He plays guitar in a function band, bass in an originals act and is musical director of a charity band.
Yousician is free to use for iOS, Android, Mac, PC and Linux. If you’re a music teacher, you can signup for Yousician for Teachers (No longer supported). View your students’ progress. Motivate them with fun homework. Boost their practice between lessons. See them get better faster. Your students and their parents will thank you for it.