Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Auricle Day

To date, I've put in about 44 hours planning out Auricle, and have a pretty decent vision of where I want to go with it. It's easy to come up with course topics -- the difficult part is how they are presented, right?

I've decided to split exercises into three types:

  • See: Standard online quiz format with visual questions and visual answers, such as "Select the P5 out of the 4 displayed chords", completely divorced from any piano keyboard visualization.
  • Hear: Classic aural skills questions with audio questions and visual answers, such as "Identify this interval", again without keyboard.
  • Play: A mix of hear/see questions, but employing an onscreen piano keyboard for answers.

I'm not a music theorist, but when I played one on TV, I noticed that students who were already fluent at piano often did worse at music fundamentals, because the piano had become a crutch. While keyboard skills are important (especially for visualizing chords), students need to have the theoretical knowledge apart from the keyboard as well.

I originally brainstormed a set of three See, Hear, and Play skill trees (like World of Warcraft) for the exercises, but that took things too far into the "isolation of skills" direction, which is equally as useless as any given "Comprehensive Musicianship" approach. That idea eventually morphed into the world map shown below, where the three types of exercises are comingled:

(I plan to add various types of dictation and part-writing after the Sea of Symbols, but don't want to bite off more than I can chew quite yet).

Each circle on the map is an exercise. Clicking on a circle will take the student to a page with exercise instructions and score sheets of how other students have done. Each exercise will have three options:

  • Cram Sheet: A quick review of basics and common shortcuts that might help someone out, not intended to be a replacement for a textbook / instructor.
  • Practice: A recorded, but ungraded exercise run.
  • Challenge: A recorded, graded exercise run. Success at challenges will have three levels:
    • Bronze: Student understands the concept (80% right, no time limits)
    • Silver: Student fully understands the concept (92% right, no time limits)
    • Gold: Student has reflexively mastered the concept (100% right, with very brief time limits on each question)

Students need at least a Bronze medal on each exercise to proceed to the next exercise, and at least a Silver medal on each required exercise to go to the next island. There are also optional activities for things that no one cares about (like modes or the pentatonic scale) that allow students to earn Badges for extra credit and Internet bragging points. Perhaps Badges will have prizes like secret coupon codes from promotioncode.org.

Yesterday was Day 1 of 5 in Auricle Hacking week, but I did not wear a Zuckerberg hoodie. I did, however, write the part that takes a description of Basics Bayou in XML converts to Java, and then renders in a JSP.

I'm hoping to have the very first exercise released next week for some early feedback. If any pedagogic friends have suggestions for the ordering or method of exercises, I'm all auricles!

tagged as music, teaching, programming | permalink | 0 comments


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