If you haven’t heard of Tonara, it’s an interactive sheet music app that keeps score as a song is performed through its acoustic polyphonic score following, and automatically turns the page when the player reaches the end of a page.

Earlier this year, the Israeli startup got a financial boost from a major investment from the makers of China’s biggest search engine.

techcrunchTonara, the Israeli startup behind the eponymous interactive sheet music app, has raised new funding to the tune of $5 million from Chinese Internet giant Baidu and returning investor Carmel Ventures. Lool Ventures also participated.

Baidu is the maker of China’s largest search engine and Peter Fang, its senior director of corporate development, will join Tonara’s board. The startup says Baidu’s help will allow it to speed up its expansion in China. Via TechCrunch

using sheet music apps
Image Courtesy of TCTechCrunch

The main difference between Tonara and other digital sheet music apps is that it “listens” to players and automatically flips pages during performances or rehearsals. The app is able to track a player’s position in the score regardless of background noise, tempo changes and even mistakes. This is in addition to allowing users to store all their sheet music digitally in one place.

The app can be used with pianos as well as other classical instruments, and when a mistake is made by the player, such as misinterpreting the rhythms or changing the temp, Tonara continues to follow and display where on the score the player is using a “smart cursor”.

Tonara
Image Courtesy of CrunchBase

The app was launched in 2011 as an iPad application during the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. There was a live string quartet and piano on stage, as well as vocal performance – all using Tonara. It has been described as “sheet music for the iPad generation” and is expected to have the same effect on sheet music that Kindle had on hardback books.

“Tonara’s mission is to redefine the way music is taught, learned and practiced around the world by bringing music education into the digital age. We are excited by Baidu’s endorsement of Tonara’s vision and potential,” said Guy Bauman, CEO of Tonara, in a statement. “We’re thrilled to cooperate with Baidu in reaching out to the Chinese audience.” Via GeekTime

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Image Courtesy of CMUSE

In addition to the app, Tonara (the company) has also developed Wolfie, a teaching and evaluation tool targeting music instructors.

“Wolfie is designed to help teachers focus on teaching and inspiring their students as opposed to correcting practicing mistakes, and we’re excited to be bringing that kind of optimized experience to such a massive audience as China,” Bauman adds.

In addition to launching Wolfie in Chinese, Tonara also plans to unveil new products and services designed specifically for music students and teachers in China. Via TechCrunch

As opposed to simply targeting the digital sheet music market, Tonara is focusing on the music education market in China, which is growing exponentially. This is in stark contrast to the Western world, where both classical music and music education seems to be on the decline.

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Chinese boy playing piano. Photo Credit: Hung Chung Chih / Shutterstock

In places like Europe and the United States, classical music is on the decline. In 1937, the median age at classical music concerts was 28. By 2008 it was 49. Similarly, the number of American adults who said they had practiced or performed classical music in the last year dropped from 4.2 percent in 1992 to 2 percent in 2012.

But the story is completely different in China, where performing classical music is seen as a status symbol for the rising middle class. An estimated 40 million children there are learning to play piano…

“Tonara has consistently pushed the envelope when it comes to developing innovative and revolutionary technology,” said Peter Fang of Baidu. “Not only is there a huge global market for Tonara’s music education platform, a large piece of which is China, but we see many other possible applications for Tonara’s technology.  We are certain that Tonara’s future will be extraordinary, and we’re proud to be a part of it.” Via GeekTime

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