#174: Guitar tutor

It’s tough to learn any musical instrument. I’m always so frustrated by the long period of amusical plunking, when learning the guitar, that I tend to give up -no point ‘practising’ something that’s just so bad.

Part of my problem is that how I experience the music in my head is not related at all to where my hands have to be to make it happen. I certainly can’t deal with having someone tell me how to move my hands…too many translations between modalities for me to make sense of the tuition. It’s generally true also that even a small misplacement of a fingertip turns the noise produced from perfect to unrecognisably discordant: the whole thing demands precision and gives no positive feedback for attempts that are ‘nearly right’.


Today’s invention is a tool which can help move fingers into the right positions repeatedly until those movements get related mentally to the sounds and the process is absorbed into motor memory.

The fingers are inserted into ten plastic tubes. Each tube is attached to the end of one finger of a robotic hand. Such hands are now just about dextrous enough to position a human hand, riding piggyback, accurately relative to the fretboard. The robot hand could be ‘taught’ how to play each required piece by being worn by an expert guitarist whose movements would be stored in the controlling computer as a pattern of reverse emf’s.

The system could in principle be used to ‘teach’ any instrument and might even be ‘tuned’ so as to emit the correct note (electronically, from an electric guitar amp) even if the finger positions weren’t actually perfect…so that a pupil would be less demotivated by the instrument’s sensitivity.

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