The next time a budding musician searches “best violin teacher near me,” he or she may find a link to an app, not a teacher.
Origin Ventures recently announced its participation in a $1.29M seed investment in Chicago-based startup Trala. Other investors include LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Techstars Ventures, and executives from Duolingo. The Techstars company has built an app that can teach anyone to play violin using Julliard-approved methodologies and easy-to-follow tutorials.
While the number of people who play violin is smaller than for more popular instruments like the guitar, for the brave who pick up the violin, they invest more time, energy, and ultimately money into their learning. In fact, violin practitioners spend on average 11 times as much money on their craft than their more numerous guitar students.
Because a violin produces continuous sound (unlike fretted instruments like the guitar), Trala’s founders had to build new technology incorporating advanced signal processing and audio technology to interpret violin sounds: the app detects if the note the student played was on pitch. This technology allows the Trala platform to provide feedback to students in real-time within a comprehensive lesson system. The app is precise enough to guide users to fix finger positions and how to use the violin bow correctly. Lessons start with these basics and work up to very advanced musical scores.
Many students face challenges learning the violin, and even those with the best teachers often only get one hour of instruction per week. With Trala, students can take a lesson anywhere, at any time. Trala not only increases practice frequency for most students, but also decreases barriers to entry for violin students who cannot afford expensive private lessons. The company’s rapid, early growth shows there is a market for its product and that the company’s technology is delivering efficiency and value for users. Trala’s timing could not be better given the contemporary rise of a generation which has an instinct to search for videos on the Internet to learn to do anything.
This investment represents Origin’s first B2C software investment, and while investing in an app that teaches violin may have you tilting your neck, we won’t send a violin instructor to scold you on your posture.