Elk, award-winning developers of the world’s fastest Audio Operating System, is providing the music education community access to remote real-time music creation and performance with its breakthrough service, Aloha by Elk. With online and hybrid education replacing the traditional classroom, music teachers and students struggle with ways to replicate the real-time human connection required in music composition and performance disciplines. Aloha reduces the latency that causes a disruptive delay between the teacher and students, allowing them to play in sync, in real time for an immersive, creative experience. The world-renowned Royal College of Music in Stockholm is the first educational institution to implement Aloha for its fall semester, teaching online and hybrid courses that involve improvisation, playing ensemble and one-on-one coaching.
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Students at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm – Credit: Mira Åkerman (Photo: Business Wire)
“You have music ideas that you share and develop. So the ability to play and sing together in real time is at the core of our music education program,” states Professor Susanne Rosenberg, educator and researcher in artistic processes at The Royal College of Music in Stockholm. “While there has been teaching happening online with Zoom and students compose and develop new material on their own, there is a limit for how far you can progress without the experience of actually playing & creating together and having that real-time collaboration experience. Aloha brings back the ‘in the moment’ flow of ideas and collaboration, which is crucial for the creativity and development in musical education.”
The first to pilot Aloha for the virtual classroom, The Royal College of Music in Stockholm, is Sweden’s top music education institution with six distinct departments: Jazz, Folk Music, Classical Music and Composition, Conducting and Music Theory, Music Education and Music and Media Production. The remote classes using Aloha will roll out in three phases: improvisation for jazz and folk courses, one-on-one violin sessions with a teacher at risk for COVID who cannot be present physically and courses for all 700 plus students and teachers.
The latency that exists in current online digital tools makes it impossible to use for music lessons, rehearsals and performances because it prevents real-time feedback and improvisation. Aloha enables teachers and students to play together synchronously, like they’re in the same room.
Elk Audio is currently in discussions with other well-known creative and educational institutions to test drive Aloha in the virtual classroom including Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University, Saint Louis College of Music in Rome, Italy and University of California-Irvine.
Zachary Dietz, University of California-Irvine professor of musical theater and drama, and a musician/actor who spent 20 years in NYC on Broadway performing in various productions including “Wicked,” “The Lion King,” “School of Rock,” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” comments on the potential of Aloha for music education, “Latency is a big problem for musicians and theater people. Since the pandemic, Irvine has been having serious conversations about the best way to present theater online and they were looking at Zoom and similar models that just don’t translate as well. Then we heard about Aloha. It ticked a lot of boxes for me both academically and for my research and side projects composing music and for musical theater. Aloha seems to remove barriers from an educational standpoint for music and vocal training and also offers benefits personally and professionally for musical storyboarding meetings where we, as musicians, can work in real time with minimal latency.”
Dietz shared that educators are reduced to sending instrumental tracks for students to record and work with. Dietz explains the shortcomings of teaching this way, “Because the student is forced to conform to the track, they miss many valuable components of a vocal lesson as opposed to working in the same space in real time with a teacher. Instrumental recordings don’t allow for the critical nonverbal nuances like breath, posture and body language, which are all critical components of vocal study and performance. Having a technology like Aloha mitigates all of that and allows teachers to give feedback in real time as a student sings or plays an instrument, which is critical in musical education.”
Michele Benincaso, CEO, Elk Audio comments on the opportunity to expand music education, “Beyond the pandemic, Aloha can reduce costs and provide artists and students broader access to a world-class music education.” Benincaso concludes, “We are honored to have the Royal College of Music in Stockholm deliver its outstanding music program using Aloha and look forward to connecting with other music programs around the world, like the University of California-Irvine, to unlock new music education opportunities that support the next generation of artists.”
Aloha’s pocket-size device and app combine the lightning-fast performance of Elk Audio OS with a powerful audio processor to keep remote users in sync with an uncompressed, high-quality audio experience. The Aloha device, which is purpose-built for low latency and stability, plugs into a standard router and has audio inputs for instruments and microphones and outputs for headphones or speakers. The accompanying app provides the video chat, audio controls and option for real-time musical interaction.
Aloha will begin a beta program in October 2020 where other music education institutions are welcomed to apply to beta test the service. More information on how to sign up can be found at www.alohabyelk.com.
Elk is a Stockholm based company that develops technologies enabling a new generation of connected musical instruments and audio devices. Elk’s ambition is to create new ways to bridge the gap between musicians and technology, changing how to learn, create, record and share music.