The Companies That Make a Dent
As an investor, you very rarely have the opportunity to know you are helping people discover and do something they love. As a company team you rarely get: "She will not be one of those people who say, I wish I hadn't quit as a child. She will not say "I can't do this" because she knows what success tastes like.”
Last week, we announced our investment in Joytunes, which empowers each and every one of us – even someone as tone deaf as me – to learn how to play music, play it well and play with passion.
This week, EduAction (a conference keynoted by the Woz) invited me to a fireside chat with the president of the Tel Aviv University, the same university where my wife studied for her MD, Yaniv Taigman, my partner in crime at face.com, did his MS.c. and many of our portfolio founders graduate from. To stir things up, the moderator asked whether I, a high-school dropout, would tell my kids to get a university degree. As my oldest child is 7, it is almost impossible to project 15 years into the future (Israelis have a 3 year mandatory army service, which they usually follow with a 1 year travel around the world os they start university at 22). However, it is now clear to me that when Ofek grows up, a university campus won’t be the only or even main place where he can and will get educated.
The web, and now apps, have been driving a tectonic shift in how university and high-school education works. However, little has changed in music education over the past 50 years. By investing in Joytunes, we are investing in helping Yuval and team create that change. I was really struck by the magnitude of change that tablets, apps and specifically Joytunes is having on music education. It really hit me when Ms. Becki, an experienced music teacher, emailed the Joytunes team (full text is below):
“One month old and she is self motivated, confident in her counting, confident in her note playing, lyrical in her playing, has excellent hand position (because I’ve had time to teach that because I don’t have to focus on notes and rhythm) but most of all-SHE LOVES PLAYING PIANO. This has been seared into her heart and soul and any experienced teacher will tell you they know the moment that an “interest” turns into “a passion”. She will never leave me until college. And more importantly, she will grow up to be a person WHO ALWAYS PLAYS piano. She will not be one of those people who say, I wish I hadn’t quit as a child. She will not say “I can’t do this” because she knows what success tastes like.”
As an investor, you very rarely have the opportunity to know you are helping people discover something they love within themselves. Ofek already calls Joytunes “our game” and asks to play it every night. This makes me happy. Helping people find their inner passion and making the world more musical will make a dent in our souls and the universe. Oh, and it’s a $10B+ a year industry. That helps too.
Hi! It’s me, Ms Becki! I hope you are all well. I pray daily for your safety and well being.
I wanted to tell you a story about an experiment I’m doing this summer. But first a little background.
I’ve been teaching for 20 years. The piano curriculum I created leads to extremely fast piano skill acquisition. Sight reading and rhythm have never been a problem at my studio. Well, not since Tom led to me having to design this program. It is typical of my students to master 3-4 method books in a year. In JoyTunes terms- most of my students have outgrown Jennifer Eklund’s books by year 2 or 3. All of them.
This year I decided to try an experiment. I’d like you to meet Emily. She is shy but quietly confident. She plays extremely well. She does not come from a musical family although her parents are so so supportive. Her sister is also a student and has been for many years but her sister was gone for the summer and so Emily is developing all by herself & she is 8. She hasn’t got an iPad at home.
For me, this represented a unique opportunity to see what happens when The Music Studio curriculum is combined with Piano Maestro. At every lesson. Only in the lesson.
As you will hopefully see in the raw video footage. She’s pretty good. She sight read several songs. She made some minor mistakes but we fixed them. And got her stars. She played a few songs in her journey and we sent those to her mom. She was awesome!
- Emily is 8.
- Emily is slightly above average intelligence.
- Emily had an accident when she was 2 with a paper shredder and is missing the top joint of her middle right hand finger.
- Emily has been playing piano for a month (4 weeks) at the time of the video shoot.
None of this will make sense to you until you see and hear her play. But I wanted you ALL, and it was a deliberate move on my side, to see what you’ve created.
I often express to whatever member of the JoyTunes team I’m speaking with that you all have created a “game changer” or “are completely transforming the scope of music education”. It sounds esoteric and a little bit like I’m trying to impress you. But I’m not. I sincerely see an “Emily” in every new baby piano student we acquire from now on.
One month old and she is self motivated, confident in her counting, confident in her note playing, lyrical in her playing, has excellent hand position (because I’ve had time to teach that because I don’t have to focus on notes and rhythm) but most of all-SHE LOVES PLAYING PIANO. This has been seared into her heart and soul and any experienced teacher will tell you they know the moment that an “interest” turns into “a passion”. She will never leave me until college. And more importantly, she will grow up to be a person WHO ALWAYS PLAYS piano. She will not be one of those people who say, I wish I hadn’t quit as a child. She will not say “I can’t do this” because she knows what success tastes like.
This. This, my dear friends, is the gift you have given us. Teachers and students.
In the hands of a good teacher this app is amazing. What a difference it makes! So on those days when people are making you nuts and you find yourself thinking “please go put that iPad back in the box because you ARE A PC PERSON and I can’t help you”- remember Emily. Because I am out here making more of her and you guys make it possible!
With much love and gratitude,