For visual learners, video guitar lessons from musicians or teachers might seem the perfect tool to quickly nail a killer lick but in truth they can be somewhat limited in the tuition on offer. The mobile convenience of teaching apps have added another useful layer to the overall learning experience but nothing quite matches the expert guidance and hands-on approach of a professional tutor. If you're looking for a similarly interactive learning experience that's available whenever the mood grabs you and allows you to zoom into the action, slow down the pace without affecting pitch and view exactly what's going on from any angle - the iPerform3D online tuition service warrants a closer look.
Initially launched as a downloadable iPerform3D Player application in 2009, the company has now announced a new version of its innovative interactive guitar learning experience which now makes the app browser-based. Guitar lessons from a number of professional studio and touring musicians have been recorded using the company's patented MoCap360 motion capture technology, similar to that used for modern video games and blockbuster movies like Avatar and Beowolf.
Around 100 motion sensors and cameras capture the full performance from all angles and the information is used to create a virtual 3D model of a guitar instructor. The result has the look and feel - and doubtless a similar addictive quality - of popular console games like Guitar Hero, but offers users the chance to actually learn to play a real instrument. It's said to put the user in total control of the learning environment - a student can slow down the sequence while keeping the pitch, adjust the camera angle to whatever suits best (from a player's eye view to dropping behind and looking through the neck of the guitar), zooming back and forth from the onscreen avatar, and looping bite-sized sections before moving on and nailing the next segment.
Once logged into the service, a user can search for available lessons by genre, title or difficulty. There are more than 200 Lead and Rhythm lessons for beginner, intermediate or advanced players, each generally consisting of three sections - a video introduction by the real-world tutor, the interactive, immersive lesson and audio backing tracks with guitar tab. Styles include rock, blues, funk, acoustic fingerpicking and learners are given the opportunity to learn killer licks or essential chops in the styles of guitar heroes like Hendrix, Vai, Clapton and Van Halen or full songs such as Free Bird, Iron Man and You Really Got Me.
The company says that the Mac- and PC-friendly iPerform3D system is just like having a real-life tutor with infinite patience available whenever and wherever you need a lesson.
"This looks amazing," says Glenn Kennedy, a music teacher friend of mine. "I think this approach is the future of guitar tuition. Students can customize their study to suit themselves whilst being sure they're getting top-notch instruction and a cohesive program of learning. Brilliant. I'd better find a new job soon - guitar teachers are gonna be obsolete with stuff like this around!"
Heading the line-up of instructors who have recorded lessons for the system is Steve Trovato from the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music. He is joined by Tariq Akoni from the department of guitar studies at the Los Angeles Music Academy, Barbara Leoni from The California Girls, Andy Abad, Michael Turner, Howie Simon, Gary Melvin, and others. Grammy nominated and World's Fastest Drummer record holder, Mike Mangini also joins the team to offer percussion tuition.
Full access to the iPerform3D service is available for a monthly subscription of US$19.95.