ezii is a keyboard instrument designed for beginners that consists of a main keyboard and three accessories. The interactions of the three accessories are inspired by the sand hammer, theremin and vocoder. With ezii, beginners can "re-arrange their practices", "create music" and "play music with others", three "luxurious" experiences for them. (All of these are clearly described in the video at the link).
The purpose of ezii is to allow beginners to explore music and to get musical achievements from it, which is a very important factor in keeping them going!
The problem I found is the first instrument will often be the only instrument a beginner owns. The first days of learning music are boring, and beginners often give up on continuing because they don't meet expectations. They want to play music but feel that it is playing them.
A simple interview to ask some people why they want to study music
"I want my technique is very proficient, and I can naturally play the emotion I want"
"I want to be able to arrange a song in my favorite style"
"I hope I can form a band with friends"
"I hope I can play music like my favorite musician"
So, I found most music beginners want to successfully reach the stage where they can "play" and "enjoy" music, instead of feel music "play" them
Then I used 3 research approachs in order to find the answer:
Survey & Interview
I surveyed more than 50 professional musicians with almost all open-ended questions, and I also interviewed beginners who wanted to learn to play an instrument.
Experience it myself
I learned keyboard in serval weeks, and I also learned music arrangements.
I stick all the findings from the research together and look for design opportunities
They're mostly young adult
They really like music.
They decided on their own to start learning an instrument.
The most important is, they're about to be in “FIRST SECTION” in music learning.
The problem in “FIRST SECTION” in music learning: This is the easiest stage to give up on
I found out the reason in the survey and interview, they are below:
"Beginners have far higher expectations than the fact"
They wish they could play music like their favorite musicians, but in reality it takes them a long time to work on their dexterity, and they also give up because it takes them too long to master each piece at first. Overall, they think they‘ve built up a good sense of music by listening to a lot of songs, but “first section” of frustration tends to hit them at first.
"The most boring process"
It's a basic part of my daily practice, and it's how I train my fingers and get familiar with the chords. My fingers usually get very sore after practicing it every day. I also try to teach other beginners the basics of music theory, such as intervals and chords, but they're very reluctant to learn it.
"Beginners subjectively think this content useless"
They don‘t think it’s musical. they want to learn about music, not fitness (muscle practice) and math (music theory). So they have no desire to learn more
How to solve it
And this achievement has to be about music.
“Find early success, even the success is small”
“Show them that they can play the music and style they like with a few simple techniques”
“Provide playback function, recording what they play is a good memory for them”
“Make them feel unique”
“Make them feel they can control music. Play music, not let it plays you
I wanted to combine some new technologies to design new forms of interaction that would allow users to play music more immersively even for beginners. While playing music, they also learn it and get more achievement.
ezii has three main categories of features, they are Re-arrange your Practice, Create and Play Together, and below you will see how users can use them
1. Re-arrange your Practice
first section in your practice is really boring, you usually need to spend several days to practice a song.Mastering a song is a great achievement, but it's not enough. Most of the time, learning to play an instrument requires practicing some classical or traditional pieces first. Because these songs are great for beginners to work on muscles, rhythm and technique. But these are often different from user preferences. Beginners would think that arrange an song to their preferred style is a luxury experience, but it's not. the interactions I design can make this easy
I also design some widget to provide new interaction for it
Next part is create, Beginners may also worry that creating music is also a luxury experience. In fact, many modern music genres are simple to create, or I can say creating music is an essential skill for playing them. Beginners don’t need to fear that they will not be able to create without much music theory, because many kinds of music require inspiration rather than much music theory. And these inspirations come from your life. My widgets can help users collect and organize their inspirations.
You can also collect groove, so what is groove, when you enjoy music, your hands, your arms and your body will move and These movements are rhythmic. These are the grooves you get and you like, so all of them can be good inspiration. My sandhammer widget will help you to collect them. So you can bring it to every place where you can enjoy music, like livehouse, concert,music festival or just in your home.
3. Play Together
The last part is play together. Because of the modular design, you can play music with your friends together.