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This article is part of the Research Topic

Technology Enhanced Music Learning and Performance

Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00627

Real-Time Aural and Visual Feedback for Improving Violin Intonation

  • 1Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom
  • 2Mediology, Aalborg University Copenhagen, Denmark

Playing with correct intonation is one of the major challenges for a string player. A player must learn how to physically reproduce a target pitch, but before that, the player must learn what correct intonation is. This requires audiation- the aural equivalent of visualization- of every note along with self-assessment whether the pitch played matches the target, and if not, what action should be taken to correct it. A challenge for successful learning is that much of it occurs during practice, typically without outside supervision. A student who has not yet learned to hear correct intonation may repeatedly practice out of tune, blithely normalising bad habits and bad intonation. The real-time reflective nature of intonation and its consistent demand on attention make it a ripe target for technological intervention.

Using a violin augmented to combine fingerboard sensors with audio analysis for real-time pitch detection, we examine the efficacy of three methods of real-time feedback for improving intonation and pitch learning. The first, aural feedback in the form of an in-tune guide pitch following the student in real-time, is inspired by the tradition of students playing along with teachers. The second is visual feedback on intonation correctness using an algorithm optimised for use throughout normal practice. The third is a combination of the two methods, simultaneously providing aural and visual feedback.

Twelve beginning violinists, including children and adults, were given four in-situ 20-30 minute lessons. Each lesson used one of the intonation feedback methods, along with a control lesson using no feedback. We collected data on intonation accuracy and conducted interviews on student experience and preference. The results varied by player, with evidence of some players being helped by the feedback methods but also cases where the feedback was distracting and intonation suffered. However interviews suggested a high level of interest and potential in having such tools to help during practice, and results also suggested that it takes time to learn to use the real-time aural and visual feedback. Both methods of feedback demonstrate potential for assisting self-reflection during individual practice.

Keywords: violin, intonation, motor learning, pedagogy, Real-time feedback, Aural feedback, visual feedback

Received: 30 May 2018; Accepted: 06 Mar 2019.

Edited by:

Alfonso Perez-Carrillo, Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Spain

Reviewed by:

George Waddell, Royal College of Music, United Kingdom
Esther H. Mang, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
Miguel Molina-Solana, Imperial College London, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2019 Pardue and McPherson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Laurel S. Pardue, Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom, laurel.s.pardue@qmul.ac.uk