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Chromatik and Bruno Mars Attempt to Revolutionize Music Practice

It wasn’t all that long ago that the term “online mastering” didn’t exist, so we here at Sage Audio know as well as anyone that in this increasingly digitized world, almost everything is moving -- in one way or another -- online. But there are many things that seem like they would be immune to digitization. For example: practicing, performing and learning music.

Web and iPad App

Well, it turns out there’s an app for that, too. And it’s pretty intriguing.

Chromatik is a California startup company that is attempting to revolutionize how we play and learn music for the first time in centuries. The company publicly launched its web and iPad app in November.

“The way that we go about teaching, practicing and performing music hasn’t changed since the days of Bach and Beethoven,” said Chromatik co-founder and CEO Matt Sandler in an interview with “The problem behind that is that music is inherently social and collaborative, but the way you practice is you go into a room by yourself with a piece of paper, pencil, and instrument and we hope you come back playing beautiful music. The idea behind [Chromatik] is that we provide the tools… ranging from sheet music you read all the way through lyrics, tablature, chord changes, audio and whatever you may need to practice from.”

Essentially, the app tries to keep a student connected to other music learners and instructors during the isolated practice time, while also providing all the resources the student needs to learn the music. And though the company is young, the idea seems to be catching on.

“American Idol” served as early users and testers, and Bruno Mars has signed on as an investor – his backing band uses the app. Additionally, UCLA, the Los Angeles Unified School District and other K-12 and higher education institutions have started using the free app.

Chromatik is not the first app attempting to digitize the music learning process, but it is one of the first to place such an emphasis on collaboration, and with its high profile sponsors it is quickly becoming fairly well-known around the country. The band GroupLove also partnered with the company, and will upload sheet music and tablature to the app. The band members will occasionally even provide direct feedback to users.

I’ll tell you, when I was learning how to play the guitar, there were many times when I would’ve loved to somehow have access to my favorite bands to find out how to really play those riffs, rather than the watered-down versions my 12-year-old ear decided sounded like the real thing (it didn’t).

But the real test will be how this app will actually aid in the process of music learning, if it does. When I first read about it, the first thought I had was how great it would be for school settings, so I was glad to see that Chromatik partnered with a slew of school systems for the launch. I’ll be very interested to hear the results as they start coming in, and see if the schools stick with this method.

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