Inspect, Embody, Invent: A Design Framework for Music Learning and Beyond

Xiao Xiao, Hiroshi Ishii


This paper introduces a new framework to guide the design of interactive music learning systems, focusing on the piano. Taking a Reflective approach, we identify the implicit assumption behind most existing systems—that learning music is learning to play correctly according to the score—and offer an alternative approach. We argue that systems should help cultivate higher levels of musicianship beyond correctness alone for students of all levels. Drawing from both pedagogical literature and the personal experience of learning to play the piano, we identify three skills central to musicianship—listening, embodied understanding, and creative imagination—which we generalize to the Inspect, Embody, Invent framework. To demonstrate how this framework translates to design, we discuss two existing interfaces from our own research— MirrorFugue and Andante—both built on a digitally controlled player piano augmented by in-situ projection. Finally, we discuss the framework’s relevance toward bigger themes of embodied interactions and learning beyond the domain of music

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