Free web-based app to help musicians improve joint music making abilities

Vienna, 2022, February 14 -- In today’s increasingly globalized world and with access to so many tools and gadgets, one challenge still remains: how can musicians learn to make and play music together, but while being physically apart? Making music together requires not only individual skills and musical expertise, but also the ability to coordinate one's actions with others.

In the last decade there have been several attempts to make music “live” via the internet, but there are various obstacles. First there is the technical side e.g. high bandwidth internet, situational adjustments that guarantee a reliable usable connection etc., and then there are human limitations e.g. the lack of sufficient opportunities for joint rehearsal, or the lack of research-guided exercises that would allow for learning transfer across pieces and partners.

Professor Natalie Sebanz at the CEU Department of Cognitive Science and Thomas Wolf, post-doctoral fellow at the CEU Social Mind Center, aim to address these challenges with an app, a simple but highly innovative idea, allowing musicians to practice together, even when they are alone.

Currently there are no training apps that specifically train musicians’ ability to play together - rather, they may improve the quality of joint playing by refining individual skills. Based on the researchers’ solid record in social sciences, cognitive sciences, and humanities, they plan to bridge the gap and bring a direct positive impact on society by contributing to a better musical education. While it certainly cannot replace real practice together, the project offers a distinct solution that could result in considerable gains both in the field and for the end users, by creating a useful and supportive learning method for musicians and offering an interesting graduation of difficulty levels with increasing learning success.

“This is my first attempt at turning basic research findings into an application. Having studied interpersonal coordination for many years, it’s a great pleasure - as well as a big challenge - to work on an app that will allow musicians to practice joint music making on their own. I am grateful to have this opportunity through the PoC grant and I hope we will be able to develop an app that is fun to use and highly effective,” says Professor Sebanz.

The app will be web-based and freely accessible to a large pool of users, providing a tremendous benefit to musicians across the world who are striving to improve their joint music making abilities.

Photo credit: Weinwurm Fotografie

Notes for Editors:

Proof of Concept Grants

166 researchers funded by the European Research Council (ERC) have won Proof of Concept Grants. Worth €150,000 each, this top-up funding will help them bridge the gap between the results of their pioneering research and the early phases of its commercialization. The grants are part of the EU's research and innovation program, Horizon Europe. For more:

Project: Training Alone to Play Together App (TAPTAPP) 

Researcher: Natalie SEBANZ 
Host Institution: CEU GMBH, HU 
ERC Funding: € 150.000 over 18 months  

About the ERC

The ERC, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premier European funding organization for excellent frontier research. It funds creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based across Europe. It offers four grant schemes: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants, Advanced Grants and Synergy Grants. The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council.