Today, I talk to Sam Reti about an exciting tool he created for musicians and teaching music online. Muzie started as a project when he was in college 5 or 6 years ago at the Berkeley College of Music. He was originally in a band for two years and it eventually fizzled out so he wanted something else to focus on. He had an idea for practice software for students for teaching music online.
His dad who is a software developer worked together with Sam on the first practice app built. It used to be called, I Want to Practice.
Muzie started to be developed in 2019. The idea was on-demand music lessons. They had a pool of 100 teachers online. When a student comes online and requests a lesson, the program will pair them with the most suited teacher for that student’s needs. The lesson was conducted online and paid by the minute. They launched it in January 2020 then the pandemic rolled in. Fortunately, they already had the online technology built. All they needed to do was format it more about how teachers are going to interact with their own students.
Sam is also teaching music. The nice thing is that he gets to beta test everything with his kids who then tell him what they want from the student side. He also gets feedback from all the teachers they work with. That designs the product.
It’s driven by what the teachers ask for. During the first year, they basically just had to add features to let teachers improve how they teach online. One of their goals is to make online teaching not a second-rate or secondary lesson somehow.
Now, teachers can sign up and then invite their students. They do not have to have some stuff on Google Drive, lesson notes, videos, and emails. With Muzie, teachers have their notepad for their lesson notes. All the files are shared automatically. You have a library that you can build up of all your content. You can make videos right inside the platform and share them right with your students and vice versa. Your students can upload their materials and make videos and recordings for you. It’s a hub for everything that goes on in the lessons. When the lessons are over, the student has a practice area with all that material already loaded up so they can track their progress inside the platform.
They have the lesson room and the practice room. They’re two different places. The lesson room looks more like a Zoom meeting with all the icons on the bottom and your video screen going and everything. The other one is more like they’ve got a chatbox on one side, files on the other, and all the content related to all the lessons they’ve been doing. You can see lesson history, recordings, and files. It’s like a dashboard. That way, the students can pick and choose what it is they want to work on it. They pop up into windows on the screen. It makes it flexible. Based on how you want to practice, you can set up the window however you’d like.
They’re also building a new assignment tool that something is going to come out soon. That’s going to allow teachers to attach lesson notes, files, and instructions all into one bundle. The students can track how much practice time they’re working specifically on that assignment. The teacher has a little bit more insight into what the students are working on specifically. They’re always adding more stuff. Pretty much every Sunday, they do an update. There are always new things. It’s all from our teacher lists. It’s easy to figure out what to do next.
There’s a lot of misconception or misinformation about the online latency issues. No matter what you use, a duet online is not possible. That’s the reality we live in. It’s a physics problem, not a software problem.
Muzie has a specific tool they built called Clips, which is designed specifically to allow you to do what they call virtual duets. This is a great help for teaching music. Clips is designed so that the teacher can hit record, then they play their half of the duet. Instantly, that recording is shared with the student side. The student can play the recording and play along with what their teacher recorded. That way, the teacher can hear the student playing along with the performance, so you can still evaluate the student as if it was a true duet but it’s just from a recording that you made for ten seconds.
Teachers also have the option to do groups and hybrid groups. Hybrid groups mean some kids are in the classroom and some kids are online. The students always have a virtual record of everything they’re working on. With the hybrid, sometimes the teacher is in class one day and online the next. They go back and forth. Having it saved virtually is helpful for continuity. You can keep it all digital and that solves a lot of those problems.
Their community has grown through Facebook groups, podcasts, and things like that. The Expand Online Summit was a great one and that’s how Sam and I met. They’ve grown a ton through word of mouth. Some teachers also take lessons from other teachers.
For pricing, they mainly have a free account. It gives you a good quality audio-video connection and a little chatbox which are great for teaching music online. The standard account is $14/month. That includes file sharing, whiteboards, and practice rooms. It is for one-on-one lessons. The pro account is $24/month and has group rooms for up to 10 people, but can also be expanded based on what you need. It has preloaded games, worksheets, and activities. They also have institution accounts so an admin can buy for their whole studio. It’s $25 for the admin and $20 for each teacher, all with pro accounts.
Muzie is a very hands-on and personal company. They handle most of the customer service themselves. They also act as a personal assistant to the teachers. If students are having problems, they ask the teacher to refer them to chat support. It’s a great tool for teaching music online.
You can check out Muzie at Muzie.live. They also have a Facebook group called Muzie Teachers.
This episode was previously published on the Profitable Musician Show. The assignment tool that Sam Reti mentioned during this interview is now done and out to the public!
Links mentioned in this episode:
Bandzoogle – WOS15