MusicJacket in the Wild – Development and Evaluation of a Wearable System to support Violin Bowing
Janet van der Linden

MusicJacket is a prototype teaching system that uses a number of novel ubiquitous technologies and is designed to increase people’s awareness of their posture and assist in learning to play the violin. The system consists of two components: an inertial motion capture system which can track, in real-time, the movement of the bowing arm and the position of the hand holding the violin; and vibrotactile motors placed on the arms and body of the novice player to give real-time feedback. The aim of the system is to support the teacher and to guide the player towards correct playing.

While being based in the labs of the Open University’s Computing Department, the system was developed by an interdisciplinary team of researchers, including physicists, computer scientists, cognitive psychologists, professional violinists as well as an Alexander Technique teacher. We used the explorative method of iterative prototyping and evaluation, at each stage gaining better insight into how this type of tactile feedback can be used by violin players and incrementally refining the system. We used an ‘in the wild’ evaluation method, taking the system to the realistic teaching settings of the school and the home, in order to analyse the system’s usability issues and to explore how this system could be of support to violin teachers. A study with ten children and two violin teachers showed that children as young as six years old were able to react to this type of feedback, and that although individual pupils needed to come to grips with very different aspects of their bowing, the system was flexible enough to offer support on a range of these bowing aspects.