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Why, back in my day, we had to make music by hitting and blowing into pieces of wood!

Although it generally isn’t thought of as such, music is probably one of the most challenging subjects for students to learn. Proficiency in it requires a combination of mathematical technical theory with the muscle coordination of Phys Ed simultaneously.

But now, children in elementary and junior high schools all across Okazaki City in Aichi Prefecture are getting a huge leg up in the form of Yamaha’s Vocaloid software.

For a long time now Vocaloid has been the go-to tool of online songwriters. This package which helped launch the career of virtual idol Hatsune Miku allows a computer to do all the singing and instrument playing, letting anyone express themselves through music without requiring the physical traits often acquired through years of practice.

For those unfamiliar with how Vocaloid works, it simplifies musical performance and notation by visualizing all components of a score as blocks on a grid. Singing is done by simply typing text into the block and assigning it a note by positioning it on the grid.

▼ Here’s a demonstration

Last month the simplified Vocaloid Education Edition II for iPad seen in the video above was made available to all students as a part of the city’s version of Japan’s GIGA School concept, which aims to replace all paper textbooks with individual tablets for every student.

A trial run was conducted with a second-year class at Okazaki Municipal Minami Junior High School. The teacher in charge reported: “By using Vocaloid, it’s possible to express yourself musically regardless of your strengths or weaknesses. It felt like the possibilities within each student were greatly opened up.”

The software may have applications outside of music class …continue reading