I joined the Percussiontutor-Team (formerly FunkyDrumTutor) in August/September 2012. Laurent and Jerome asked me if I wanted to be a part of the app, and I agreed immediately. Both are not only passionated about playing music but also about teaching music, and in 2011 they had the brilliant idea to make an iPhone app – they wanted to communicate using technology, and revolutionize the more “traditional” way of teaching music.
During the first months my task was to keep the Facebook & Twitter pages up-to-date, make some little design tweaks, basically I had to improve our communication on social networks. The app being a very niche product, it was (and still is) very hard to get feedback online through Facebook, Twitter, so it was vital to have pages online with fresh content. I was sure that by reading articles of clever businessmen and tech experts, we’d get thousands of likes on our page in just a few days. I thought that virality and buzz for our app we’re just around the corner. Turns out, the growth I had imagined was pure fiction. We were trying to communicate, writing to lots of influential people but it just didn’t work out. Maybe the app was too niche, maybe I was naive, or perhaps we were just unprepared. But along the way, we learned a lot, and we value it.
Just after a few weeks after I joined, the idea of big update came up. There were a lot of things to improve: better audio and video quality, the so-so User Interface, you name it. But most important of all, the main idea shifted from being a Batà-specialized app to a World percussion app. Why only show you a few Batà rhythms if we can show a variety of rhythms coming from a variety of countries played by some of the most amazing percussionists we know?
We started figuring out what we needed to make a better version of the app, what it would take to build Percussiontutor. The new rhythms, musicians, and a professional studio on the content side, and new features and a re-imagined UI on the tech side. I’ve always loved technology and I’m passionated about improving people’s lives with it every day. And beautiful design is, in my opinion, very important in order to achieve that mission. You can’t write great code and just put it out there: there has to be a layer in between, in order that a “normal”, non-geeky person can understand why your product or service is great and most important of all: know how to use it. Design not only means looking good, but also teaching people how to use something. So I was interested in designing Percussiontutor, and after months of learning through websites and various tutorial-videos online, I hit the export button just a few days ago. It took hours of work, figuring out programs, lots of chocolate chip cookies and litres of coffee to finally be able to design something that looks like an app. It was a very rewarding moment.
Back to V2: after sketching out the new design, emailing with our developer and several Skype-sessions we knew what we had to work on and what V2 would approximately look like. The content-related story is a different kind of story. An amazing one.
Jerome living in New York City for 17 years, he contacted musicians and asked them if they would be interested in recording rhythms for V2. Eventually he had a list with musicians who agreed and we were starting to search for a studio that could offer high-quality audio and maybe nice walls for filming. We found the amazing Atlantic Sound Studios right next to the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn. After setting up a schedule, we were ready to go – Laurent and I would join Jerome in NYC for the session in december. I thought: How cool is this? NYC… in a studio… for an app! Everything I love was united: music, technology and New York. There was just one thing that could cancel the trip, school. I wrote a letter to the headmaster, explained him the situation and got a meeting after just a week. And what a great meeting. He was like “Yeah, go to NY, play music and make an app”. I was thrilled. So again, Mr. Trauffler, thank you for letting me go. That week was one of the best of my life.
Now here we are, April 2013, and Percussiontutor will hit the App Store soon. And this time it’s not just an app. It’s a whole ecosystem, the experience goes beyond the app, wich is only the layer for you to explore fascinating rhythms. The app is the door to a world of century-old patterns, for the foundation of the modern music styles we know today. And because it’s an app, it has many advantages:
1. you don’t have to be a musician
2. you don’t have to know anything about percussion
3. it’s just a tap away
Plus you get a booklet for free, with transcriptions and information for each and every rhythm. But it’s also important to mention the third component of our vision: you. You have to be motivated, willing to practice and listen to music. Listening is the most important part of all: it’s the key to understand and to feel the music.
This is my story, my amazing journey since I joined the team less than a year ago. I learned so much and the learning process goes on every single day, whether it’s in the musical or technological field.