Southwell a finalist for Adobe Design Achievement Awards and on shortlist for IxDA Awards
Recent Graphic Design alumna Kirsten Southwell (BGD 2012) was chosen as a finalist for the Adobe Design Achievement Awards in the Mobile Design category and on the shortlist for the IxDA Awards in the Optimizing category for her senior project “Rehearsal: App for Practicing Musicians.”
For the Adobe Design Achievements Awards, Southwell was up against nearly 5,000 submissions from over 70 countries around the world. She will be traveling to Toronto, Ontario, Canada in early November to take part in the DesignThinkers 2012 convention along with 41 finalist entries.
Southwell was also recently shortlisted for the IxDA Awards and she will be up against the likes of IDEO, Cooper, Microsoft, Intuit and R/GA as the only student entry chosen in her category.
So what is the “Rehearsal: App for Practicing Musicians?”
Here’s the details from Kirsten as she explains her rationale and design influences for designing the app.
Rehearsal: App for Practicing Musicians
By Kirsten Southwell
I have been reading and performing music since I was in the 2nd grade. From that point, I had dabbled in several different instruments—violin, trumpet, bass guitar, piano, choir—each with their own challenges and practicing habits. However, by my senior year of college, I had realized that I lost most of my musical ability. In Kermit Bailey’s capstone studio last Spring (2012), I wanted to investigate the experience of other musicians to see if I could create something that could increase musical comprehension, curate progress for reflection, and facilitate practice for performance.
What I think made this project really special was trying to make the process organic. I started with an open-ended question, “How can design enhance the musician experience?” From this one large topic, I broke the research into three components: defining and investigating audience, visual studies and exploration, and comparative analysis of existing technologies designed for practicing music. These all directly informed the development of the final product which I named, Rehearsal.
The app is designed to accommodate two different methods of practicing music. For those who read music, and prefer to practice with sheet music or tablature, the app has these features:
- Score Card: compares what was last played to sheet music
- Mimic Mode: plays a few measures of music and asks musician to repeat it
- Annotations: provides annotations that vary by instrument (ex: finger numbers for piano)
- Learn Parts: allows the musician to record their own parts (ex: right and left hand of piano) and share music parts with other users (ex: different parts of a choir)
For musicians who do not read sheet music and practice by ear, the app has these features:
- Record and Edit Live Sessions: allows the musician to create and edit new tracks for their song library
- Compare Tracks: shows a visual comparison of tracks so the musician can analyze their differences
- Mix Tracks: allows the musician to compile several tracks into one track that can be added to the song library
- Labeling Tracks: to keep the musician organized, tracks are organized by song and can be labeled to help identify parts of the song, date, and other variations.
In-between these two methods of practicing are four different exercise modes. These exercises are meant to bridge the two learning styles:
- Theory: tap out rhythms, identify key signatures and learn notes on a scale
- Interpretation: for fifteen seconds, interpret the image as music
- Ear Training: harmonize with chords, identify pitches, and quiz yourself
- Improvisation: choose parts (bass, treble, rhythm) and play along to the looping track
I was really pleased with the final product, especially from the response I was getting from other musicians. Many were able to find something they could connect with about the app. I think that what makes this project so successful was the research and process that supported the final product. I should also thank our teaching assistant, Jay Vaglio, for coaching us and caring enough to make himself available in the midst of his own thesis.
After being encouraged by friend/mentor/professor Amber Howard, I entered this project into several competitions. The response has been surprisingly overwhelming. I am a finalist for the Adobe Design Achievement Awards (ADAA) in the “Mobile Applications” category and also made the shortlist for the Interaction Design Awards (IxDA) in the “Optimizing” category. I am headed to Toronto on November 7th to attend the DesignThinkers Conference and find out if I am an ADAA winner.
What I have realized from this experience is that students should feel more encouraged to apply for these kinds of awards. They bring a lot of prestige to both the student(s) and the university, and the publicity will only help when it comes to applying for jobs. I wish I would have applied more while I was still in school!
It’s kind of strange to be doing so much with my student work since I have already graduated and started my career as a professional designer. I graduated in May and moved to Portland, OR to work as a Jr. User Experience Designer for Second Story Interactive Studios. They have been extremely supportive of my efforts and are really excited for me.
Connect with her on Twitter @kmsouthwell