Learning music is demanding, so it must be fun. Tech has come a long way. A New York startup put these two statements in a magic box and a smart Ukulele came out. Through a revolutionary way of learning music, it empowers people to achieve musical excellence by themselves.
Music has the power to make life more meaningful, not only for the artist but also for the crowd. If there’s one city that breathes music, it’s New York.
The Jazz of Miles Davis. The Doo-Wop of Dion & the Belmonts. The Folk of Richie Havens. The rock of the Velvet Underground. The disco of Lady Gaga. The pop of Billy Joel. The Latin of Aventura. The hip-hop of Jay-Z. One of the reasons the city never sleeps is probably its twinkling music scene.
12% of all Billboard Number 1 artists and bands are from New York. No wonder that up to today, the streets of the Big Apple are packed with musicians providing passionate music in the hope to be picked up.
According to these statistics, if you want to be a number one musician, you better move to New York. Bob Dylan had that well understood in the sixties.
But writing potential Nobel Prize-winning lyrics in New York alone is not enough. Assuming you don’t have a Whitney, Mariah or Rihanna voice, somewhere along the way, you will have to pick up an instrument.
Though many have yearned to learn an instrument, the process takes courage. Maybe your parents never put a guitar in your hands. Maybe the slightly boring music teacher doubted your talent. Maybe you were disappointed that after 6 months nobody recognized your brave version of “Wish You Were Here” and you draw your conclusions. Or maybe, you simply didn’t have the time.
The learning can be tough. And off it went: the dream, the joy, the art.
Founded in December 2016, Popuband, a smart-instrument NYC startup with a passion for music, aims to make more people play music.
After a successful crowdfunding campaign achieving an astonishing 1486% of the goal in only nine days, they launched their ‘Populele’ in March 2017. Popuband chose to use a real, traditional instrument, the Ukulele, to encourage people to start their musical journey.
Though often associated to the flowers and lovely life of Hawaii, the little four-stringed instrument dates back to the 18th century in Europe, when seafaring musicians wanted to carry their music around in a more practically convenient way
The Populele allows people to easily get started with music. The makers promise to have students up and running with their first song within 15 minutes of their first pick up.
72 LEDs embedded in the plastic fingerboard show users where to place their fingers. A mobile app connects to the instrument via Bluetooth, allowing students to learn chords and play along with songs. And there’s a game mode for making the basics of timing and technique fun.
That way, the lessons become a highly immersive learning experience as well as an entertaining game. In fact, it has already seen some interesting outcomes for children with autism playing the Populele.
It will be interesting to see what happens once Popuband expands into other instruments, but, so far, their unique Populele makes the first paces of music-making comfortably accessible to a broad public.