- Band Management
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- Live Sound
- Best Instruments
- New Music
Musicians, by nature, are constantly learning new things; from fresh songs to gear tricks, recording techniques to music business concepts. The life of a musician is an ongoing education process (or at least it should be). Even if you’ve played your instrument for 20 years, I’m willing to bet there is a style or scale you haven’t learned yet. I’ve written songs since before I was a teenager, and I still find value in learning new lyrical techniques, or exploring new modes and forms of songwriting.
There are fine institutions that focus exclusively on contemporary music studies, such as Berklee College of Music, Clive Davis Institute at NYU Tisch, and others. But as we all know, traditional education is not available to everyone for various reasons. Some simply can’t afford it, and others are not in the position to move and live in a new location. But the delivery method can be an impediment, too. As a teacher, I have experienced the challenge of balancing immersive one-on-one learning or lectures with those who prefer to learn at their own pace, on their own time. Increasingly, learning by online video lessons is becoming the first choice of many.▼ Article continues below ▼
I spoke with Ian Temple, founder and CEO of Soundfly, a Brooklyn-based video education platform.
Can you give me the elevator pitch for Soundfly?
We are building the online learning hub for musicians. Basically, we are creating accessible and highly engaging learning resources for anyone, anywhere in the world, to improve their music skills.
As someone who has been involved in developing OnlineEdu, you’ve done an awesome job. It’s so difficult to get the right mix of interaction, discussion, and tracking.
Thank you very much. You hit on it the important parts, interaction and tracking progress. We worked really hard on that and I’m proud of the entire team’s work.
What are some examples of Soundfly lessons?
Well, the catalog is growing all the time. “Demystifying Synths” is really gaining traction, with a completion rate over 60%. But, we have everything from “Beginner Piano Theory” to “Touring on a Shoestring.” We are always open to hearing from the community about what they want to see on the site, too.
Is Soundfly meant for professionals or amateur musicians?
It’s our core belief that “anyone can be a musician.” We’re a team of musicians who still work on Soundfly, and other jobs along the way. Our number of students has doubled since October, so we think it’s working for all experience levels.
What’s your history with being a musician?
Like many, I took classical piano growing up and it just didn’t stick. Then in high school, my mom asked me to give it one more chance, and sent me to a crazy old guy down the street who taught jazz. I went to a one-hour lesson with him. He was amazing, sharing his love of music, stories and the history of jazz. He taught me a basic chord progression and then how to play with the right hand over the top. Basically, he gave me the best improv lesson ever, and suddenly the world of music opened to me.
Where do you stand on the free education movement vs. traditional?
There is value in both of them. We all learn in so many different ways. I think that there are some things that the Internet is set up to do really well, and some things are better in person. The really cool thing is when you use them both together like we have with Carnegie Hall and West Side Story. We have a couple of colleges using our course with their musical theater courses. So, you have professors mixing non-traditional video with their own [curriculums].
These are very high-quality courses. Are the instructors producing the content?
Actually, all of our videos are generated/produced by our staff at Soundfly HQ in Brooklyn. We have an awesome team of seven story/content producers who work closely with instructors to produce their vision, but also make it valuable and accessible for our students. For instance, Carnegie Hall was very happy to let us come in and make the content and then we crafted a course around it.
I’ve noticed most courses are free and some are paid; what is the overall vision of Soundfly?
The model we are pursuing is to provide most courses for free. We want to share music knowledge with the world, that’s why we’re doing this. Some larger courses will be premium, and we hope to have a subscription option soon. Right now, we are focused on creating an amazing catalog of lessons that anyone can use at anytime to better their music life.
Try it out for free at soundfly.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
-Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.