In Touch with the Wild: Exploring Real-time for Learning to Play the Violin

in Thesis / Dissertation


Real-time feedback has great potential for enhancing learning complex motor-skills by enabling people to correct their mistakes as they go. Multimodal real-time cues could provide reinforcement to inform players whether they are making the correct or incorrect movements at a given time. However, little is known about how best to communicate information in real-time so that people can readily perceive and apply it to improving their movement while learning complex motor-skills. This thesis addresses this gap in knowledge by investigating how real-time feedback can enhance learning to play the violin. It explores how haptic and visual feedback are perceived, understood and acted upon in real-time when engaged in the primary task of playing the violin.
Prototypes were built with sensors to measure movement and either vibrations on the body or visual signals as feedback. Three in-the-wild user studies were conducted: one comparing visual and vibrotactile feedback for individual practice; one investigating shared feedback at a musical summer school; and one examining real-time feedback as part of a programme of learning at a high school. In-the-wild studies investigate users interacting with technology in a naturalistic setting, with all the demands that this entails. The findings show real-time feedback is effective at improving violin technique and can support learning in other ways such as encouraging mutual support between learners. The positive learning outcomes, however, need to be understood with respect to the complex interplay between the technology, demands of the setting and characteristics of individual learners. A conceptual framework is provided that outlines these interdependent factors. The findings are discussed regarding their applicability to learning other physical skills and the challenges and insights of using an in-the-wild methodology. The contribution of this thesis is to demonstrate empirically and theoretically how real-time vibrotactile and visual feedback can enhance learning a complex motor-skill.