The Usability of Data and Feedback

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Usability is a big buzzword in web and computer design.

With empirical data, countless reports and studies can guide developers towards making better, more user-friendly designs.

In preparing for an audition or other employment, a portion of this process too is dedicated towards usability.

  • Have I played this audition for my private teacher?
  • Have I performed this audition for friends, colleagues and passers-by?
  • Have I dutifully used practice tools?
  • Did I participate in group practice sessions with other horn players?
  • Did I record myself and listen back to the recordings?
  • Have I kept a journal?
  • …and after the audition, did I ask for comments?

Why are all these questions important? They all amount to feedback.

As mentioned a few days ago, studies show that designers lose their objectivity after a few days of working on a new project. One could easily argue that the same principle is true for music students.

It is all too easy to get wrapped up in one’s own thoughts and get a little lost.

A story

Once in a lesson long ago, my teacher asked me to play a passage louder. I obliged – or so I thought.

“I didn’t hear a difference, please play it again louder!” demanded my teacher.

I gave it my best – over and over. In my mind I was blowing down the walls, so I was utterly perplexed by my teacher’s insistence that I wasn’t playing any louder.

The lesson for me that day was that my perspective of loud playing was askew. It needed readjusting.

Awareness increases potential

Audition committees are not only looking for candidates that are musically and technically strong; they also might be asking questions like:

  • Is this candidate flexible?
  • Will this player fit in?
  • Is this player savvy enough to thrive in our ensemble?

Flipping this around to the player’s perspective:

  • How can a potential employer use me?
  • What can I do to make myself more employable?
  • In what arena is my style of playing or entrepreneurship best suited?

To be successful in music one cannot be passive – take charge of your future! Good things happen to people empowered with good information and skills that other people want and need.

University of Horn Matters