AUSTIN, TEXAS – Gadgets that help you learn the guitar are a dime a dozen, but for those who don't want to be the next rock star (or, more likely, the aloof, bearded guy surrounded by women at a college party), there's always Jamit. This unusual peripheral connects to a violin and can help musicians master everything from Bach to Coldplay – if its developers decide it's good enough for consumers.
I encountered Jamit at SXSW 2015. Although I didn't get to go hands-on (I don't play the violin, and it's a rather delicate instrument if you don't know what you're doing), I saw some expert players lead me through what learning with the gadget might be like.
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The Jamit itself is a small, black, hourglass-shaped device that fits into the bridge of almost any violin. From there, it connects via Bluetooth with an Android app and measures how accurately you hit notes. Based on what I could see, the device tracked notes instantaneously and did a good job of picking up mistakes.
The app is the more comprehensive part of the Jamit package. There are two main components to the program: lessons and songs. Jamit presents lessons in a video-game-progression fashion, unlocking a branching series new ones as you complete older ones. Finger positions, bow technique and other common violin lessons are present and accounted for.
The songs are the star of the show, and range from Handel to Beethoven to Elvis Presley. You can set the song's speed, activate a metronome, toggle a virtual finger position indicator and even have piano accompaniment in the background.
Since Jamit is only a proof-of-concept at the moment, price, release date and song selection are all a mystery for the time being. In fact, the developers said that if they're not satisfied that the Jamit can be a real violin teaching tool, they won't release it at all. Testing is underway now, so keep an eye out for more news about the product.
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