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AI emerges as new teacher for music education in China

Platforms target parents, offering lessons for children with real-time evaluation

With 01yinyue, the user's performance is monitored via smartphone or tablet and evaluated, and mistakes are pointed out in real time. (Photo courtesy of YuanYin Technology)

BEIJING -- Online music education platforms that help children learn music, especially instruments, as "training partners" are drawing strong attention from institutional investors in China.

While children wishing to play musical instruments need to practice every day, the online platforms help them continue their efforts, motivate them to work harder and learn more effective ways of practicing.

Miaoka Information Science and Technology, which operates VIP Peilian.COM, and Future Orange Network Technology, operator of Kuaipeilian, each raised funds twice in 2018 from such eminent institutional investors as Tiger Fund, Tencent Holdings, Gaorong Capital and International Data Group.

According to an estimate, the music education market in China will grow to more than 400 billion yuan ($56.86 billion) by 2022. In particular, demand for online instructions is expected to near 100 billion yuan.

Many existing business models of online instruction involve music teachers working as training partners under contracts with service providers. While the average fee to use a platform is around 100 yuan, it amounts to thousands of yuan a year because of frequent use. The service primarily targets high-income parents because a considerable amount of spending is needed to continue the use of the platforms.

Services using artificial intelligence as a training partner are also emerging. 01yinyue.com, offered by YuanYin Technology, helps children learn instruments more smoothly with an app having such features as visualization of sounds.

The piano is especially suited for online instruction and visualization of sounds because each key on the keyboard represents a specific music note, making it clear when the student makes a mistake in finger position.

Some 20,000 pieces of music, played by professional pianists, are stored in 01yinyue, and the process of playing is shown on the chart on the screen in real time when any of them is reproduced. Tempo and finger pressure, as well as pedal techniques and finger movements, are also displayed on the chart.

The user's performance is checked via smartphone or tablet and evaluated, and mistakes are pointed out in real time. Based on the practicing data, the app works out a new practicing plan for the user.

The app is available for free during a two-week trial period and then for 98 yuan per month, although free use for 15 minutes per day is permitted. YuanYin does not advertise the service but already has 20,000 registered users, including 3,000 daily active users who practice playing the piano for 50 minutes per day on average. The membership has kept increasing at a weekly rate of 1,000, the company said.

YuanYin also has three corporate users that boost the number of fee-based members at a monthly pace of 1,000.

The company's two founders studied mathematics and science at university and have backgrounds in classical music as well. Gao Wei majored in electronic engineering and belonged to an orchestra for 10 years. He was also involved in management at a number of major multinational companies for 15 years, including Cisco Systems.

Gu Yupeng studied applied mathematics, AI and music at universities. A serious piano student, he once studied under Arnaldo Cohen, a globally renowned pianist.

36Kr, a Chinese tech news portal founded in Beijing in 2010, has more than 150 million readers worldwide. Nikkei announced a partnership with 36Kr on May 22.

For the Japanese version of this story, click here.

For the Chinese version, click here.

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