Music is an essential element in our daily lives. It can be an entertainment, it can nourish our soul, and it can also serve as the symbol of a civilisation. But it takes excellent talent and persistent practice to acquire the ability to perform beautiful music.
Fortunately, technology advancement can help. Not that technology can produce music as good as human performers do, but that with technological tools, we can teach, learn and practise music in an easier way.
Users can self-practise for examinations
Playnote, a graduate of HKSTP’s Incu-Tech Programme, has developed music learning and practising apps for smart phones and tablets – AURALBOOKTM, SCALEBOOKTM and Rehearsal Partner. Music learners can now practise by themselves outside the classroom to prepare for music qualification examinations and public performances.
Eric Yung, founder and CEO of Playnote, has been deeply involved in music from a young age, be it in music theory, playing various musical instruments, conducting and performing in musicals. He has attained multiple professional musical qualifications and open performance experiences. He studied electronic engineering in university and became an IT professional. Playnote is the combination of Yung’s strengths in music and science, plus his commercial knowledge and entrepreneurial insight. He hopes the products his company develops will help more people who are interested in learning music and fulfil their wishes even when resources are limited.
Tablets revolutionise learning experience
Apps that assist music learning have been around for a while, but commercially successful examples were rare. When tablets emerged, starting with Apple iPad, Eric thought it was a crucial opportunity, because the user interface of tablets and the ways of using them could facilitate music learning and provide a simple and direct experience to learners. Playnote zooms in on the market of professional examinations, and adopts the business model of meeting the needs of examination candidates and musical training institutions. This is clearly a successful formula.
Two different technologies enhance learning effect
Playnote strives for excellence when developing its products. Released in 2012, AURALBOOK could instantly analyse a user’s pitch and rhythm in singing, and the rhythm and dynamics in clapping as well. SCALEBOOK, on the other hand, enables scale practice of a range of musical instruments like the violin, clarinet, oboe, trumpet and saxophone. Both Playnote products are equipped with the Electronic Ear and the Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. Electronic Ear can identify the sound of singing, clapping and different musical instruments, while AI can analyse the sound to suggest improvements. Users can practise anytime at home using these apps.
Rehearsal Partner integrates the technology of AURALBOOK and SCALEBOOK. It also curates the musical pieces used for competitions in Hong Kong Schools Music Festival. Students and teachers can use the app to practise for competitions, with the option of switching on and off different musical instruments in the chorus.
Professional authorisation and awards enhance clients’ confidence
Playnote has been authorised by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) to use its examination outline and content in its products. AURALBOOK and SCALEBOOK are the only two apps in the market that have been authorised to use the “For ABRSM” logo exclusively. Playnote has also received multiple awards, including the Grand Award in the Startup category of Asia Pacific ICT Award and the Best Mobile Apps Grand Award of Hong Kong ICT Awards 2017. The recognition underscores the professional standards of its products, and they can also enhance the confidence of students, parents, teachers and music learning institutions on Playnote.
Peter says in the process of starting up and developing his company, HKSTP has provided much assistance and support on product development and commercialisation. Moreover, HKSTP attracts different innovative talent from all over the world that facilitate exchanges of ideas. These factors have all helped Playnote refine its innovative ideas and develop new products.
Today, besides music learners, Playnote has promoted its products to professional instructors, learning institutions and music stores. Its main customers come from Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and Australia. There are probably over two million people taking different professional music examinations every year all over the world. This means Playnote still has much room for global development.