Just six months ago, we heard Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg rebrand the entire Facebook franchise to “Meta”. This is part of its efforts to pivot the company to be more responsive to the needs of the upcoming metaverse. For a more than $500 billion company to rebrand after several years of being known as Facebook, this metaverse concept sure is interesting, don’t you think?
But, what exactly is the metaverse? Since its rebranding, Meta has not given a clear picture of what it intends to achieve. So far, we know they’re planning to build a virtual reality (VR) social platform. This platform is technically a world on its own—a different universe, if you will. Here, users can log in and create an entire persona distinct from their real-world personalities. The idea is that you can be who you want to be in this world. Does it sound like an escape from reality? Maybe. But those who have seen “Ready Player One” would disagree.
What Does The Metaverse Mean So Far?
As of this writing, it’s impossible to find a concrete definition of what the metaverse is. Aside from the vague definition that it’s a world born and existing in cyberspace, there’s nothing much to work on.
Our personal opinion, though, is that, right now, it’s a collection of new experiences.
From games to concerts to fashion shows to just simply spending time at your virtual home, the metaverse lets one experience an entirely new concept of entertainment and media consumption. It also enables people to try a new way of interacting with others.
Picture this, when you attend online classes, you talk to people over the internet, right? You have your favorite video conferencing app up, and you talk to your teachers and peers. But that’s that. You are aware that you’re physically apart, and in a way, there is an absence of connection between you and the person across.
On the other hand, if you’re in the metaverse, the experience is a bit different—it’s more immersive. Since you’re “transported” into virtual reality, you see things, “feel” things, and hear things differently. Physically, you’re apart, sure. But since you’re transported into a reality where all of you are in the same place, it blurs the line and changes the meaning of being “apart”.
What Does This Mean in the Musical World?
The metaverse is not only suited for workplace meetings or venues for out-of-this-world fashion shows. It’s also where you can learn to play the piano.
Grammy and Emmy Award-winning musician, singer, composer, legendary live performer, and multi-platinum best-selling artist, Henry Connick, Jr., is set to debut a plethora of metaverse experiences starting with the Piano Playground last March 29.
Connick chose “Neutral Ground” as the name for this metaverse project. The name holds a special place in his heart. It refers to the strip of land running through the middle of two-way streets where he would typically hang out as a kid growing up in New Orleans.
Returning to the idea of these grassy medians, Connick Jr. developed The Neutral Ground. In this immersive metaverse-based community, people of all ages can meet in the middle and connect through music.
With Neutral Ground and the Piano Playground, Connick aims to give piano learners a new and exciting experience in learning the piano. And it’s not just for the students. “… it’s a place where everybody’s on the same slate, and I think that’s kind of what the metaverse is,” said Connick Jr. about The Neutral Ground. “It’s the idea that we’re all contributing parts of a community, and it’s a place for all of us to hang out and have a good time.”
What You Need to Know About the Piano Playground: The World’s First Piano Lesson Offered in the Metaverse
The first season of the Piano Party course will give participants unlimited access to nine on-demand lessons and two live interactive sessions with Harry and other participants. Participants also have the privilege to enjoy an exclusive learning community where members share their progress, get assistance, and communicate directly with Connick Jr.
Members can expect to learn the really basic introduction to what a piano is and appreciate the basics of music.
Connick designed the course in a way that in every 10th episode, he would meet members of the community and exchange ideas and tips. The course will become more comprehensive as it progresses, but beginners will have no reason to find the course daunting. Everything is elementary, a departure from the more advanced courses that are more discouraging than educational.
Why The Metaverse is a Great Tool or Place to Learn the Piano
Playing the piano is a skill rather than a talent. Anyone who has the grit, the drive, and the perseverance can learn the piano more than any other “talented” individual.
The thing with skills is that it has to be practiced to be mastered. And that’s what regular online classes lack. Other skills like adaptability, emotional intelligence, team collaboration, mindfulness, and time management are also learned on the job pretty sporadically or from things like lectures or roleplays, which aren’t always that realistic.
Learning in the metaverse means you can be assigned to virtual roleplay scenarios that can be accessed on-demand. For example, to develop empathy or adaptability, you may be placed in a scenario involving a bully at school to understand how to develop empathy for someone at work or even just practice your public speaking skills in a safe, repeatable space. The metaverse has the unique ability to immerse people into what can be quite emotionally charged scenarios.
Another reason why learning in the metaverse is advantageous is because your technical skills are sharpened. For example, you are learning to play the piano. You would need access to a piano and a piano teacher, or you might use a piano app on an iPad that isn’t quite as realistic as the real thing.
In the metaverse, using a VR, you can be transported into your virtual piano lesson or even put on stage at a piano recital in front of an audience to build engagement and confidence. Since AI drives most metaverses, you can count on receiving feedback based on actual data of your performance. Unlike in current online learning environments, your teachers can be with you, albeit virtually. The difference is that even if you’re apart, your instructor can still see your movements and can thus provide immediate feedback. It makes the entire learning experience more intuitive and immersive.
You can even take it a step further by actually preparing your piano and benches so that not only you can learn proper playing techniques but also proper body mechanics and posture to prevent potential injury—all while being in the metaverse.
Lastly, the metaverse could very well replace traditional ways of social interaction. The metaverse can bring people together in shared spaces while avoiding the impersonal webcam view used by MS Teams and Zoom, where actual participation is limited, and class sizes mean that many learners can’t interact and engage effectively.
Live events are an essential part of education. Social interactions do not only provide means for accountability to students but also provide an avenue for learners to share what they learned. It’s an avenue for students to reflect and help boost their understanding.
The metaverse is indeed an exciting part of learning the piano that we can all look forward to. Connick’s Neutral Ground may just well be a great start to a promising world where students, teachers, and the entire community can come together and have some fun.
As a company that has always worked hard for the sake of innovation, at Hidrau we find the concepts and technologies behind the metaverse highly attractive and promising for the art of piano playing. We will continue exploring the ways this technology makes learning and playing the piano more fulfilling experiences.