When two Twin Cities educators grew frustrated searching for an online resource to help them teach music theory, they decided to build one themselves.
‘Let’s just make something,’ was the sentiment behind the recently launched Corridor, according to Dan Musselman, a music instructor at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul. He’s partnered up with Jay Fuchs, another educator at McNally Smith on the app they say is inspired by the popular language-learning site Duolingo.
Corridor’s interactive, level-by- level format teaches users core skills related to playing the keyboard, identifying music by ear and visualizing it through staff notation.
As students progress, subsequent levels build on these abilities. Corridor launched in January and has since caught the attention of both local and national music programs — Musselman names Orono High School, Chaska’s school district and Trinity Episcopal School in Austin, Texas.
Even with its current clientele, Musselman said the resource isn’t meant just for younger music students. For example, Corridor does begin with basic skills, but it includes lessons that stretch to the college level. And creating an account is simple and free for all users, including those interested members of the public who aren’t part of a formal music program.
“You can just kind of jump in wherever your skill or ability level is and keep learning,” he said. The venture’s earliest business model offers the free service with some advertisements built in, and users can pay to remove the ads. Musselman said the team plans to add premium features and a class of accounts meant for teachers that would allow them to remove ads for their students, give assignments and track usage statistics.
“We’ve got a long list of things that we will continually be adding,” he said.
This is a first-time dip into startup technology ventures for Musselman and Fuchs, but they have worked together on writing music theory textbooks in the past. As part of that project, they formed their own musical company, American Pop Academy.
Going forward, the pair hopes to use each enterprise to promote the other’s growth. For example, one link on American Pop Academy’s main navigation bar takes viewers straight to Corridor’s homepage. The website’s levels and functions are perhaps still rudimentary. Still, the gaming format is appealing, and likely especially for school-age users. After each level’s ten questions are complete, an “Angry Birds-style” counter adds up the score and displays the stars earned (from one to three).
“That’s a really fun moment,” Musselman said.