A New Duet: Emerging Tech Syncs with Tradition to Convert Aspiring Music Makers Into Musicians

Carlsbad, CA, November 26, 2012—A new Harris Interactive survey commissioned by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) found that technology such as YouTube videos, online lessons and music apps are inspiring more than one in four young people ages 8 to 21 (27 percent) to learn to play a musical instrument, compared to 16 percent of respondents of all ages.  Specifically, 17 percent of people 8 to 21 years old say they would never have tried to learn to play without technology.

The nationwide survey found that affordability and convenience of online educational tools is encouraging 16 percent of all Americans ages 8 and older to play a musical instrument because they connect the desire to learn with easy access to instruction.

By turning dreams into reality, tech teaching tools are helping erase a longstanding source of regret: According to an earlier Gallup poll, 85 percent of Americans who do not play a musical instrument wish that they did.

While tech alone isn’t turning beginners into masters, survey results indicate that it’s helping ignite and sustain interest among youth. One in three (33 percent) 8 to 21-year-old music students also take in-person lessons with a teacher or in a group, a finding that illustrates how technology is coexisting with tradition.   

The survey found a robust interest in learning to play a musical instrument. In the past year, 30 percent of the population ages 8 and older made an attempt to learn how to play or better play a musical instrument, especially 8 to 21 year olds (55 percent), with guitar, piano and keyboard players especially keen on using tech methods.

The survey findings are significant as the music retail industry seeks to broaden access to music education and open the doors to the joy and wellness benefits of playing an instrument to all people of all ages.  

“Since the harnessing of electricity and the birth of the electric guitar we have seen technology’s sweeping impact on music making,” said Joe Lamond, NAMM president and CEO. “Technology is making it easier to play, record and teach music, expanding the number of music makers and helping more people experience the joy of making music.”

Indeed, nearly nine out of 10 (86 percent) Americans agree that using technology to learn how to play a musical instrument is a good thing because it allows easy and affordable access to more people than ever.

NAMM and music educators are supporting the use of supplemental teaching methods to help motivate, track and reinforce music students of all ages.

“When people use technology to enhance their opportunities, it is very positive,” said Menzie Pittman, owner and director of education at Virginia’s Contemporary Music Centers.  Teachers at his music stores use technology in lessons to reinforce rhythm for drummers, provide references for music history and demonstrate applications of lessons’ subject matter. Still, technology can take a student only so far.

“When people substitute tech gadgetry in place of the true understanding of the instrument, the result is limited at best,” said Pittman. “Technique is technique, and that will always be the case.”

Several new or emerging tech learning platforms that supplement traditional teaching, such as:

  • Chromatik: An education app that allows teachers and students to record, annotate and share lessons
  • Jammit: A music platform that allows the user to isolate selected instrument tracks from the original artist recording to help them learn how to play along
  • Atlas Apps, LLC: This app publisher offers a range of interactive lessons, such as Uke Lessons for iPad, Guitar Lessons for iPhone and Rock School guitar, bass and drum lessons

The findings are the result of a nationally representative online survey of 3,245 U.S. residents ages 8+, living in the United States, conducted by Harris Interactive, October 17-24, 2012, on behalf of NAMM. Data was weighted where necessary to align with actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for adult (age 18+) respondents’ propensity to be online.

Media Contacts

Lora Bodmer - NAMM
Director of Public Relations & Social Media | Phone: 760.438.8007

©2008-2012 NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants