Find out how Dickinson College uses Tomplay in its music division
Dickinson College in Carlisle, USA, now collaborates with Tomplay and has equipped nearly 100 students with yearly access. Jennifer Blyth is Head of the Music Department and one of the Music Professors in the institution. In this article, she shares her experience with Tomplay and the feedback she has received from teachers and students.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background?
I’ve been a professor at Dickinson College for 23 years, as Professor of Piano, Chamber music and Music Theory.
Why did you choose to offer access to Tomplay to teachers and students of Dickinson College?
We initially looked at Tomplay as an opportunity to continue chamber music and collaborative music making during the COVID pandemic. Six months into that pandemic and two semesters of teaching virtually I think it is safe to say that we have discovered the beauty of working with this program from a pedagogical standpoint, whereby we will likely continue using this in our lessons and classes on a permanent basis. Interactive scores and the ability to alter the tempo while learning a work has helped our students immensely and it has evened the playing field for students without permanent access to a collaborative pianist or collaborative chamber players.
Did you consider other digital solutions than Tomplay and what was the decisive factor?
We did consider other options. There wasn’t another solution that provided as much range pertinent to our students. Additionally, there is no other program out there that will do on-demand requests. Our orchestra was working on the Greig “Holberg Suite”. To have our students practice their individual parts with Tomplay meant that they were prepared for in-person rehearsals. Perhaps more importantly the digital score acts as a sort of click track which helps in stitching together the multiple separate tracks for virtual performance which has become the reality for any ensemble performance these days
How was the process for setting up the Tomplay subscription for your teachers and students? Did you encounter any difficulties?
The set-up was efficient and easy. There is a human touch about Tomplay (despite the fact that it is digital software) that made it excellent to deal with. At all times we could email or call and there was always an instant reply from actual people. This was wonderfully refreshing and honestly was one of the reasons why we decided to deal with this company.
Even if it is possible to print scores, Tomplay is an app and therefore a purely digital product. When you proposed Tomplay in your school, did you encounter any apprehension from some teachers used to paper copies? How did you deal with this?
Yes, we did encounter some pushback from professors and students some of which did not have access to tablets. Once the need for a clicktrack as a virtual metronome became apparent though - I think it is safe to say that the advantages of reading off digital scores became our mode of operation. For students working on concerti (for our concerto competition) the digital score is essential for staying in-sync with the orchestra.
Overall, after a few weeks of use, what has been the feedback from teachers and students? Can you give us a concrete example?
I think in general students had a little bit of a learning curve but have enjoyed the added benefits of working with great artists albeit digital ones they will not ever meet. In terms of providing accompaniments and making collaboration and chamber music possible – there really is no means of comparison. We run an annual concerto competition and this year it is only possible because of Tomplay. In fact for the first time – students can now audition for the competition with a full orchestral accompaniment instead of a second piano part. We may never return to doing this competition without Tomplay!
Would you recommend Tomplay to other music establishments and for what reason(s)?
I would encourage EVERY institution to look into using this as an educational tool. It has certainly helped us in a virtual world but beyond that our students have enjoyed collaborating through this program.
Tomplay - our offer for music teachers and schools
Designed to be a tool for teachers, Tomplay offers you and your student a vast catalogue of 14,000 interactive sheet music scores, all synchronised with recordings made by professional musicians!
As a complement to their classes, your students therefore have the possibility of playing solo and listening to a reference performance and also of playing in a duet, trio, quartet or even accompanied by a whole orchestra.
The other functions, such as the possibility of slowing down the tempo of the accompaniment, recording yourself and listening back or working on a specific passage in a loop also make learning much easier.
Example of a piano student playing with Tomplay:
Want to give it a try? You can download Tomplay free-of-charge from the App Store, Google Play Store or create an account on your computer to take advantage of three free sheet music pieces. You will then have the possibility of subscribing at the special teacher price of 8.00 euros/month or 84.00 euros/year. Your students will benefit from the same discount.
We also offer discounts on quantity for schools and for teachers with more than 10 students. Please do have a look at our teachers'/schools' page and contact us at: https://tomplay.com/teachers