Learn To Play
In January 2009, Apple released “Learn to Play” as part of GarageBand ’09 — guitar and piano music lessons for the budding Mac musicians. The Learn To Play lessons ran inside GarageBand where they could take advantage of existing audio and MIDI playback capabilities. The lessons were featured in the keynote that year and were a hit amongst Apple buyers and journalists. Apple expended the initial lessons with new free and paid artists lessons. That was in January 2009. Since then, nothing.
Macworld ‘s Chris Breen, himself an experienced musician wrote a detailed review in which he praised the idea of offering music lessons in such an appealing package. He had previously-penned an article about other sources for music lessons and was thus ideally suited to review Learn To Play.
CreateDigitalMusic‘s Peter Kirn, who was also the technical editor for the Macworld review had this to say about Learn To Play:
Incidentally, it’s too bad Apple doesn’t offer a way for musicians to build their own lessons in GarageBand; I think that’d be a big hit.
This would have resulted in more demand for Apple products and relieved them from having to produce this type of content themselves. This is similar to iBook Author where Apple creates an authoring tool that others use to produce books and magazines. Unfortunately, such tool never arrived, and as a result users were left having to look elsewhere for more advanced lessons. Apple is understandably focused on other things (you know…making Macs, ipads, iphones, iOS, OS-X and tons of money…) and was perhaps expecting a third party to come and fill the void.
GarageBand ’11 did add some features to Learn To Play but the lessons are the same as in GarageBand ’09. Again, Chris Breen had this to say in his Macworld review of GarageBand ’11:
The Lesson Store is also unchanged. Check the store with either GarageBand ’09 or ’11 and you’ll see the same group of lessons.
Conclusions: great concept and great execution by Apple but no new content or authoring tool.
This is where Lessonator comes in: providing an Apple-like authoring tool that lets users create their own music lessons with a few mouse clicks. It is not a clone of either GarageBand or the Learn To Play feature. That’s a good thing since Apple has a patent on the whole technology.
Instead, Lessonator is based around the idea of creating lessons like an Apple Keynote presentation: you drag and drop media onto a canvas and edit until you’re done. The resulting lesson can be played back in real-time or exported as a movie. This approach has the benefit of allowing anyone with a web browser to download and/or stream Lessonator lessons.
Conclusions: Lessonator was designed to fill a void that Apple knowingly left empty. And I sure hope Peter Kirn was right about this being a big hit…