VR in Academia: Illinois State University

Join Get Real co-founder Ed Haravon in a discussion with Illinois State Universities Roy Magnuson, Tony Marinello, and Tim Fredstrom about Ribbons and Solstice, virtual reality programs for music conducting and composition.

Click To Read Transcript

Ed Haravon (00:03):

Good morning. This is Ed Haravon from Get Real welcome to our latest get real segment. I’m pleased to be joined by Roy Magnuson, Tony Marinello, and Tim Fredstrom from Illinois state university, to talk about some interesting and exciting projects they’re doing in immersive technology and hope that you guys will all benefit from their knowledge as they share it today in, in their applications of some really exciting technology. As we talk more about how the metaverse is penetrating into academia and, and some of the great use cases that’s being brought to for students and, and for, for professors alike. So good morning, everybody here. Thanks you very much for joining me. Maybe Roy, I’d start with well start with you, Roy, but I’d love to get everybody just give a quick introduction for themselves and, and kind of what their focus is there at the university.

Roy Magnuson (00:52):

Yeah, for sure. Hi, thanks for, for having us. My name’s Roy Magnuson, I’m an associate professor at Illinois state university where I teach music composition in the school of music, but I’ll to teach virtual reality design in our creative technology program where I’m service as the associate director. So I sort of this dual appointment where I kind of split between, you know, traditional acoustic music theory kind of stuff, but then also, you know, pivot and, and teaching you know, more immersive media and, you know, interactivity, unity, design, things like that.

Ed Haravon (01:25):

Great. Tim, why don’t you introduce yourself? Thank you.

Tim Fredstrom (01:28):

Thanks for having us today. I’m Tim Fredstrom. I teach coral music education. I direct choirs teach, conducting teach oral pedagogy at Illinois state

Ed Haravon (01:42):

And Tony.

Tony Marinello (01:43):

Hi again, thanks for having us. This is pretty exciting to get to spend the morning with you. My name is Tony Marinello. I service director of bands at Illinois state university. And under that umbrella, I oversee every win band, as well as our athletic bands here at Illinois state university. And I’m joined by a couple colleagues who help me with all that. But as far as my academic appointment, I conduct the win symphony, which is our top win ensemble here and also spend time a good bit of time teaching undergraduate conducting as well as leading our graduate conducting program for win conducting

Ed Haravon (02:17):

Well. That’s great. Thank you all for joining us today. I wanna start with you, Roy, just you know, one of the first conversations we had in the, the last month was, was we really were drawn to some of the unique ways that frankly no one at get real had seen for leveraging VR technology. And it was very unique application towards, towards music and, and conducting and such. And so could you give us a, I know that blossomed into the solstice VR project, but could you give us a little background of how that started and maybe how it took, took flight there at the university and in, in your own journey with it?

Roy Magnuson (02:51):

Yeah, for sure. So originally three years ago, I started when I four years ago at this point, I guess when I started doing VR development, I was really interested in, in creating virtual spaces for making music. And that started off as this project that became solstice VR, which is a, a sort of audio composition sandbox. Like you can go into a three space and write music. You can bring in your own samples, record what you’re hearing, leverage the physics and sort of spatial audio of a game engine, like unity, and then do things in a virtual space that you just can’t do in a, in a real space, like on a, in a do or in, you know, actual reality. And through that project, you know, I learned a lot about just presence and sort of embodiment and how sound works in VR and the different things you can leverage.

Roy Magnuson (03:35):

And I think it was 2018 or 2019 in, it was summer 2019 that I was experimenting with hand tracking and a leap motion in my office. And I kind of was just playing around with this idea of putting, you know, trails on your hands and like, can you create sort of effects and stuff like that? And it occurred to me, it’s like, oh, if you do this, you can, you can visualize conducting patterns, right. You could sort of show what is happening. You know, sort of what you’re, what you’re doing as a conductor. And you can see the sort of after image almost. And I thought it was kind of cool. I was like, oh, this is neat. And I, you know, sent a, sent a note to Tim and to Tony cuz we’re such good friends. I was like, Hey, I’m in my basement office, messing around with things like, come check this out.

Roy Magnuson (04:21):

And they, they both came in and I remember just sitting in my office like threw on the headsets. I think it might have been Tim’s first time ever trying VR. And the response was like, I, I think we’re on to something here. Like this is cool. And the, the ability to, to get immediate visual feedback of your are conducting and to, to have that you know, create that loop right of the visual and then the audio and then the visual and the audio, and to get a, a truly novel application of pedagogy. So that sort of started there. And you know, we, we went through, you know, 2019 and you know, we kind of developed a, an IRB. We were getting ready to do this whole thing with an Oculus ripped S and leak motion. And then we were like, literally second week of March in 2020 were set up to do our our first clinical trial and obviously everything shut down.

Roy Magnuson (05:17):

And in hindsight it’s like one of the best things that could have happened to the project, I think, because it allowed us to kind of take a breath step back, let the hardware mature a little bit. And we sort of pivoted to the quest two platform and now have, you know, this, this whole kind of pedagogy and and hardware software combination in ribbons VR that allows for, you know, not only like this immersive kind of conducting pedagogy, but also one that is, is easily shared, right? The quest is such an aggressively priced device that there’s, you know, the possibility for students to have access to this instead of like, you know, the kind of enterprise level school, you know, purchase thing. So for me, all of my stuff as a composer, my involvement has been as the, you know, developer and kind of creating the excerpts, but I’ll pass it to Tim and Tony. I mean, they, they were the ones that have been doing the pedagogy and applic of it, like how does this transfer from something that I’m kind of experimenting with in my office to actually, you know, being applicable, right. It’s something that can be used in, in the real world.

Ed Haravon (06:27):

Yeah, that’s a, that’s a great point. So besides it being really unique and, and novel, and really caught our eye, I’d love maybe for Tim and Tony to start weighing in more on the practical use case of like, what, what problems does this solve for you as an educator, as a, as a musician, as a teacher what has made easier and what, what are kind of some of the possibilities that have been open to you because of this application of technology that weren’t really there beforehand,

Tim Fredstrom (06:54):

Let me take a stab at it, Tony, and then I’ll pass it on. One of the challenges in teaching conducting is getting things concrete enough. So students can actually see and experience what we’re telling them. So I may have a student who I’m saying, I don’t think this pattern looks right. It’s not reading right to me visually, as I’m watching you, but until they can have concrete back, it is very difficult for them to know how to adjust those things. So traditionally, and I’ve been at this a long time, we use mirrors and we have watch yourself well, that, that has some disconnect in the fact that it’s, it’s not as immediate. And then when I could take my iPhone and re record them, and then they watch that, that was, that was huge, but it still was not that imediacy that we have in VR. So in VR, they actually can see themselves shaping and getting that immediate feedback in the moment, which we have never been able to do to, to my knowledge before, as we teach in conducting. So that’s one of the, the really exciting things about this project that it is, and we call it a new technology for a new generation and a new pedagogy for a new generation, as we are teaching as we’re teaching students to be conductors Tony, you wanna pick up from their,

Tony Marinello (08:20):

Yeah. So I think Tim, Tim hit it on the head. You know, I kind of have started beta testing this all the way back into the spring and a lot this fall and, and to piggyback off what Tim said about how we’ve traditionally co taught, conducting, you know, I can say to a student, I want, want you to watch yourself in the mirror. Right. But there’s still a personal visual bias. Right. If I tell you you’re going too far, one way or the other it’s yeah. Yeah. Okay. I guess so, but the great part about this is that it doesn’t lie. I mean, like you can’t mess with it, you see exactly the motion you made. And you know, a lot of people, there’s always, there’s been articles read and, and I have non-musician friends who are very kind, but like I know in the back of their mind, when they see me conduct a concert, they’re like, what are you really doing up there?

Tony Marinello (09:08):

You know, like what come on, like, you’re just waving your hands. What’s the big deal, you know, do they even need you? You know, and, and what we are trying to get across is that at its fundamental level, and I think most musicians would agree with this is that conducting is about creating predictability in the patterns that you make. And if you’re predictable, when you change that those parameters, then you’re saying something that’s a, a visual in the moment that you hope elicits a response. And that’s really at the end of the day, we’re teaching students. And so what this technology was great at was helping students be set a really clear baseline of how to look and be incredibly clear so that then they knew how to manipulate those patterns and communicate more effectively. And it made those kind of like ethereal, esoteric, you know, ideas of like communicate this or be that or whatever it put it in black and white motions.

Tony Marinello (10:09):

I mean, it’s, it’s, you either, you either went this many centimeters passed or you didn’t, you know, it’s, it’s very clear in that way. And I’ll give you a little story. That was great. I had taught two semesters of conducting with a bunch of undergraduate students. And then that next semester, a few of them were still on campus, but weren’t taking conducting classes. They were done with that. They were just finishing up their degrees. And I said, would you come into my office? We’ve got this new virtual reality thing. And of course they were super excited about it. And sure enough, like each one of these students had little inconsistencies in their patterns that I had probably told them about a hundred times through the previous semester and never really got fixed. Right. And as soon as they put the headset on, it was like this moment of clarity where they went, oh, what, wow, I really am going too far out on three.

Tony Marinello (10:59):

And you’re like, you know, I’ve been saying that for months, you know, so to me that was like an aha moment. So the cool part was this fall. We worked over the summer and, and took what I normally did in my conducting class. And Roy designed kind of a parallel set of units to go with of it. And we had students do what we had a always done and break into groups. And while some were doing what we traditionally did in class, the others were doing the same exact exercises in VR and, and doing it through, through this ribbons VR, and then comparing those two experiences and the initial feedback students, as well as my assessment of what students were doing was that they got to much more, much more clarity and a better ability to communicate and, and do what they need to do as conductors much quicker, much more quickly. Excuse me.

Ed Haravon (11:53):

That’s fascinating. I wanted to focus in on the students for a sec for, for, for anyone to talk. When you first brought a headset into a class did people look at you like you’re crazy, did they think it was video game time? Would love to know kind of like the engagement around the students to embrace something new in their classwork.

Tony Marinello (12:17):

I, I mean, I, it, it was like bright eyes. I mean, they were just ready to go and some of ’em were already asked, can I get it? I already have a headset. Can I have it? Like, they, they already won. It was like, well, let’s not let it out just yet. This is not that we don’t trust you to, you know, we don’t think you’re gonna go sell it on the black market or the deep web or something, but, but we, you know, we’re, we’re not ready to put it out in the world yet, but man, they, they took to it like, like a duck to water. I mean, and they were excited about this and I think it really started to make their classroom experience more relevant to their real life, you know, and to their real world and how they’re interacting with the world outside of the classroom, where they’re doing some of that inside the classroom.

Ed Haravon (13:00):

What about talk a little bit about you know, when, whenever I’ve talked to people in, in kind of trying to employ unique technology and education and higher education, especially you know, talk to me about the administration or people that you’re talking to, to Gar, you know, whether it be for funding or for, for grants or to talk about the program and, and, you know, that can be obviously a, there’s a lot of different priorities at the administrative level. Can you talk a little bit about what some of the feedback has been organizationally at Illinois state to, to support such a, a successful program rollout?

Roy Magnuson (13:35):

Yeah, I mean, I could speak just a little bit. And then I know my colleagues will have thoughts as well. It’s been really good. I just kind of I think ISU is supportive in general of research. I think if you’re, especially if you’re trying to do something novel and you’re, you, you seem very excited about it. Like you’re you have the energy to, to, to make something happen. And I think that’s absolutely the true of school of music and college of fine arts. We’ve been fortunate to receive several different internal funding streams through university research grants and funding through our center for teaching learning technology. Really honestly, just to support hardware because it’s, you know, it’s, it’s a, it’s expensive to get up, to see need for development. If you’re coming into this project where you like Tim and Tony, right.

Roy Magnuson (14:24):

It’s they have batons. Like, I mean, it’s like, you know, that’s the, that’s the hardware you purchase for the class, right. To say, okay, we need five quests. We need like a laptop that we can be able to take to class. We need to be able to take it to like floor demos at like conferences, you know and specifically be able to like edit stuff if like, what if something goes wrong? Like in the demo, we need to be able to clean it really fast and rebuild it and put it on a headset in like, you know, 20 minutes that’s to be able to have all of that stuff. Provided has been has been huge. And I think it, it also, for me just speaks to like the excitement the university has, right? When you, when you see the willingness to, you know, financially back a project, it, it, it gives that kind of like edge to it. You okay? Like, this is, this is real, like keep pushing, like keep going, keep going, see where this can go.

Tim Fredstrom (15:17):

We also have been given time to work on things. Next, next fall, my teaching. Load’s gonna change a little bit to where I’ll be teaching specifically the class we’re targeting this cor this material for myself. So I did some switching with a colleague, so I could, I could actually be really hands on in the curricular side of this. And the curriculum dimension of VR is a very unique part where it’s not just great technology, which is really cool, but it is really strategically employing the technology in a, in a curriculum and in learning experiences that are very systematic, that are very developmental. And that, that’s kind of a unique piece for technology often in educational technology, we have great bell and whistles, but we don’t have have the underpinning of a instructional model. And that’s where our team is unique in that we have specialists in each of these areas that all speak each other’s language to pretty well. And we can work together in a, in a, in a great synergistic partnership. And so that’s kind of exciting too. We,

Ed Haravon (16:33):

We always see that with our clients as, as you know, as, as people are trying to adopt new technology and there’s so much happening right now as this metaverse expansion, which we’ll talk about later has, has occurred and the proliferation of hardware and some of the world’s largest companies backing that hardware and the software expansion that’s happened underneath, but technology for te G sake, which I think is what you’re getting at Tim is, is just that it’s not going to stick. It’s not going to last for more than a few minutes. It’s a, it’s a sugar high, if you will. But what, what, you know, that integration piece of, how do you make it work for you in this case, in the curriculum? I I’d be interested to know, like what’s an example of, of kind of integrating into, into the CU him, either Tim or Tony or Roy like that, that is gets beyond that, Hey, this is cool. Kids love putting out a headset, this isn’t my nose piled in a book or looking at videos, but like, what’s an example of that really kind of locking in to kind of get to a four a core teaching function.

Tony Marinello (17:31):

Tim, can I start on that one? Yeah. Cause I, I think, I think I’ve, I think this might progress well, you know, when it first started and we first, you know, back in the spring, it was a complete sandbox, you know what I mean? Just get in there and see what you do. And then we use some of that feedback from students to go, okay, what can we do with this? And then the fall, when, when we, when we started kind of soft implementing it, like I said earlier, it, it just ran in parallel to what we already did traditionally. Right. And then that gave us a lot of information of going, okay, what can this technology actually really do? And then the beauty part was then after we got through this first semester of kind of just, you know, it was kind of a hybrid between a play a sandbox and with a little bit of loose instruction, you know, with some parameters that would, and then with that information, Tim was really the genius to say, okay, this is how we completely reorganize it. So I felt like this fall, I was just taking this new technology and then kind of jamming it onto the way we traditionally taught. And then that gave us the experience to take a step back. And Tim and Tim was really great at saying, okay, let’s not teach the same way with this new technology. Let’s find a whole new way to now use this technology in a way, you know, in a novel way. And that’s really specific to this technology and he’s done a marvelous job of organizing that.

Tim Fredstrom (19:00):

Well, thank you, Tony. That’s nice. And I think to follow on that, we’re looking really at how do we create these, these habits of good conducting and how habituate skills so students do do predictable conducting, as Tony said earlier, we’ve got to have very consistent and predictable demonstration of gesture. And then from that we vary and that’s how we actually conduct. And it’s that variation from, and the predictable that allows for the expressiveness to come from the podium and then eventually to the ensembles of performers. So our curriculum is really focused on developing habits and predictable gesture that then we build on to teach students the, the variation of the jet. That is what in all the years I’ve taught, conducting. I’ve not been able to do. We, I kind of bypass the step of the habituation and we just start going right into, well, now you need to vary it, but we don’t tell them from what we are varying. And that is the unique piece of ribbons VR. It, it, it’s a totally different mindset as a teacher, and it’s a different experience for the students because we are shaping first, before we are conducting. So we teach the, teach the skills, then we move them into the application of the skills in a very systematic way.

Ed Haravon (20:33):

That’s great. Thanks for adding some of that color around kind of how that fits into the, to the curriculum and what you’re seeing. And, and it’s great to hear how the, the program has developed from pure experimentation and more structure and continues to do so a as more people get exposed to it. I wanna go back down just a little bit on the underlying technology. Maybe I could look to you, Roy. Give, give us a few little like technical platforms. What’s the, what’s the program what’s ribbons built on and, and maybe some challenges and that you’ve encountered and overcome along the way to kind of building this, this, this application as it sits today.

Roy Magnuson (21:10):

Yeah, sure. So it’s built in unity. That’s the, the, the main engine that I’m comfortable with, I sort of can dabble and unreal, but I’ve, I’ve done almost all my work in unity. And like I said, we, we started on an open VR concept. So I think it was actually the, the five for our very first one. And then we switched to to the Oculus rift S then to quest then to quest two. And we sort of, kind of entirely pivoted to quest two at this point. And we use the M RT K the mixed reality toolkit as our interaction system in, in in the engine, which is just a, a great, you know, set of tools, you know, to get, get some of the, you know, hand gesture kind of interactive stuff baked in some of the challenges have been really for me as a, a design, a designer, who’s largely learning how to do this by doing it.

Roy Magnuson (22:05):

<Laugh> like, which has been fun and exciting and maddening, as you can imagine have been to, to continually focus and to not try to put in as many different, like branching paths as possible to make sure it’s like, we’re teaching this concept, right. We need to do this thing. And that sounds really easy, but it’s, it’s really hard. <Laugh> like to, for me, from a, a user experience standpoint to, it’s like to really hone in on that. And then some of the performative aspects of working for the quest I mean, it’s an Android system, right? It’s got very, it’s extraordinarily powerful for what it is, but it has a lot of, you know, physical limitations mm-hmm <affirmative> with computations. So you know, for some of the interactive music playback, for example, right, the sort of you conduct, and as you are conducting changes, the music will respond to you.

Roy Magnuson (22:57):

Well, there’s only a few different ways. There are a lot of ways that one could do that in a virtual space, but there’s like real trade offs, like for CPU, you know, bandwidth for doing them in certain ways and how you, you know, kind of do that in different loops and, and, and in code and, and stuff like that. So that was a lot to kind of figure out and just kind of tweak and to get it. So, you know, the code gives a seemingly natural feel like to the person that’s conducting. It’s impossible to recreate reality. And we’re really not trying to do that, but we want to have that sort of like immediate, you know, sort of auditory feedback that if you’re slowing down, the music’s gonna slow down and you realize you’re slowing down because the music is slowed down like that, you know, is, is, is very real.

Roy Magnuson (23:46):

And then the real recent innovation has been the, the ability to have the mixed reality component for the quest two. So using their, their I think it’s like the presence platforms that they call it, like the, their pass through API has been amazing. Just to, to kind of get the, the idea of augmented reality at a $300 price point is, is, is just completely bananas. So like, you know, having, having the, the ability, like in Tim’s learning path to actually have a moment where students are still wearing a headset, conducting seeing their, you know, visual feedback, but conducting old people, right, is that the fidelity is high enough that they can do that is incredible. So you can be, you know, have this one more step where you’re conducting getting all the visual feedback. You’re still wearing the headset, you’re responding to real humans, and then you can take the headset off and conduct without the feedback with the real humans. So that’s the more or less the path that we’ve got. You know, as a, a designer, as I said, it’s, it’s been a real challenge, but a fun challenge, you know, to continually learn with the tech that has been progressing and to try to figure out how to optimize it to, to fit like, you know, this specific use case

Ed Haravon (25:00):

You, you touched on it there, but I wanna give it just a chance for everybody else to respond to, like, you know, certainly we’re on, we’re on an innovation cycle path for, you know, quest or other standalone headsets that they’re, you know, they’re just gonna get more powerful, the computer power’s gonna get better, they’re gonna get cheaper. Just same way we saw cell phones 20 years ago, and smartphones just kind of go through that cycle. And that’s great. You mentioned leveraging some of the pass through, which is a super powerful feature of quest two, but ultimately I wanted to get a specific read on, on, you know, where does this device go as, as we see augmented reality glasses come into play. And while, you know, they’re starting to be out there with, with Facebook stories and, you know, Facebook area, or now meta area, the project that’s out there. It seems as if that would be, you know, quite an amazing application of the AR technology where it to come to fruition. And, and, and, and you’re able to kind of interact with not only the virtual environment, that’s giving you the cues and monitoring your movements and syncing up with music, but also now the ability to bring in what is it live environment doing and responding to you. So I, I wanna give everybody a chance to weigh in unlike that concept of like, how great is that gonna be?

Tim Fredstrom (26:12):

I think we, we don’t even know where this is going. And so it’s pretty fun to be at this, at this place. So much of what we do in teaching students to be conductors and music educators, which is where I spend much of my time we do in simulation. We, we have to a teaching experience with peers or even going to a simulation in, in a, in a classroom setting. I, I can only imagine what will be the possibility in a few years of being able to create even greater simulation with that is more real that has greater potential to give students that feedback and, and working within a, in a moment. And I’m really excited to see what this can do and, and to partner with, with Roy and Tony on this is really, is really a great thing as we’re, as we’re trying to find those, those possibilities.

Roy Magnuson (27:06):

Yeah. The the, one of the things that was really interesting in December Tony and I were able to, to demo the software at the Midwest band and orchestra clinic in Chicago. So we, we had it at the ISU booth and just had a heads there and it’s, and a TV up, and people could see people using this little vertical slice that we created. And the reticence of people to use VR was, was kind of surprising to me. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> to get a headset on. And I, I knew, I know that’s a thing, right? People don’t know what it is and they feel embarrassed,

Ed Haravon (27:39):

Or there’s still form factor. Is my hair gonna get messed up? It’s kind of boxy look, do I look weird while I’m doing it? Yeah, exactly. There still is a little quickly eroding, but it’s still out

Roy Magnuson (27:48):

There. Yeah. Yeah. The friction. So it’s, as that begins to erode, as it becomes more and more mainstream. And we saw this, I think moment at Christmas, it’s just like the quest was like it out, like the search volume was higher than Xbox PlayStation switch. It was, people got ’em for Christmas. They were sold. So it’s, it’s getting there. Right. When that, when that continues. And I think coupled with the sort of form factor, getting lighter, and then just color pass through, if there’s a lighter, like slightly more comfortable, not quite all day device, but something that’s, you know, two or three and, or grams that someone could wear mm-hmm <affirmative> and have that sort of real, like, color pass that could read like a piece of paper in front of them. I think at that point, you’re, you’re talking about a thing that could be used not only for pedagogy, but also just in rehearsal. Right. Like you could be using it in front of a group to get metronomes and tuners and like feedback and have your notes. Just there’s so many different paths that we could branch off on

Tony Marinello (28:48):

Mm-Hmm <affirmative> yeah. I’ll kind of back up a little bit in talking about like the development side and, and, you know, it’s, I will, you know, sing Roy’s praises because when this first thing started, it was like, yeah, that’s cool. But you know, when I would keep throwing this stuff and it, part of me feels guilty about it, cuz like one of the big things was like, can you make it so that when, when I conduct the music physically, it, it auto audibly reacts to my conducting. Right. Which before now I’ve never seen anything do that. And I actually remember a long time ago taking my kids to the children’s museum in new Orleans where I grew up and there was a thing sponsored by the Louisiana Philharmonic where it was like, you be the conductor, right. And you stood in front of a music screen and if you conducted, well, then the, then the musicians played well.

Tony Marinello (29:37):

And if you did it, the, the musicians booed you. And so I get up, you know, and I’m, you know, I’ve got two degrees at this point in music, you know, I’m like, I’m gonna, I’m gonna kill this. And I was awful. I mean, just the, the musicians booed me every time. And so that was a big thing, was like, I want this to, this needs to be genuinely reactive as close to what a human reaction would be. If I slow down, they need this slow down and vice versa. And I, I mean, that was like a huge gauntlet. And you have no idea how many times Roy and I have been texting. I’m like, what about this? And then it’ll be four hours later. I figured it out. How, I don’t know, I just figured it out. So he is really gone above and beyond.

Tony Marinello (30:18):

And the crazy part is that as we are saying, and can it do this, can it do that? Can you make it, do this? He’s then also saying guys, there’s this thing now, like, and that’s how the that’s how the AR the mixed reality part of it started. And I will say the, like, things were going really cool. And we were doing a lot of cool stuff and having it react to us and vice, you know, and all that stuff. And then when it got to the mixed reality portion, it was like, this is, this is gonna be, this is dynamic, cuz now we’re talking about bridging that virtual world into, into the actual world. And, and that, I think as we demoed that on the floor at the Midwest band and orchestra clinic, that was probably the most exciting thing that people saw because I think in that moment, as soon as they click the button and they saw the real world around them, but then could still see their own ribbons and things like that, you know, that, that part of the virtual reality platform that was like, okay, this is a game changer.

Tony Marinello (31:13):

And I think that moment is when it became less, especially for some of my older compatriots and colleagues in the, in, in the, in the, in the, you know, the, the, the younger kids, the college kids that tried it, they were woo. You know, but once that part, they saw that mixed reality. That was like, okay, this is, this is a tool. Now I see how this is a tool so much so that we even had some gentlemen from the air force band the United States air force band come and come and play with it. And they were very interested with it and kind of pulled Roy aside, talked to him for a while. And they had, they had all kinds of ideas about how to use it. And so I, I kept joking with him. I was like, Hey, before you know, it, the, the air force is gonna weaponize ribbons VR. So <laugh>,

Ed Haravon (31:58):

It’s going out there exactly into the world. That’s awesome. Great insight. It in some great enthusiasm around kind of the technology. I, I, I wanna kind of bring it to a close here with a couple final questions, kind of a open ended you know, free association piece. And, and one will seem obvious, but 1, 1, 1 I wanna start with just to, to kind of close things with is you know, where’s it go from here? You know, you guys are all you know, experienced and, and accomplished in your fields. I know that you’ve, you’ve outlined a very disciplined and, and thoughtful, purposeful track of how ribbons can, can evolve and be part of a curriculum and not just be tech for Tech’s sake or so. But if you sit there and you let your mind expand around some things you haven’t even thought about yet, or a little another area of your, of your, your teaching or your curriculum, maybe not specifically related to the conducting piece where are some thoughts that it could go, I’d love to get your insight on that, Tim, we can start with you.

Tim Fredstrom (32:57):

Okay. Well, I think for me, it it’s really focusing on how do we create learning paths for teaching conducting and music education that are appropriate for this generation of learners. It’s a different world. And I’m teaching, I’ve taught a long time and I’m teaching students and they, they, they process the world differently. I am a digital immigrant, they are digital natives. Mm-Hmm, <affirmative>, they, they follow and work with, with technology in a way that is very different than I did, and my pedagogy needs to adapt to this ever changing world. So for me, that’s what I’m thinking about. How do I start to think of about this in creating real virtual experiences or, or virtual experiences that really create real learning experiences, I think is what I better said. So that’s what I’m thinking about. So both with conducting, I’m thinking also what we could do in actually things like classroom management things like teaching concept formation, what are the experiences we take students through to help them learn and retain understanding and knowledge? So that’s what I’m thinking about is kind of the next piece.

Ed Haravon (34:21):


Roy Magnuson (34:22):

Roy. Yeah. So, I mean, my, my spring is gonna be kind of focused on implementing Tim and Tony’s curriculum. So we have this learning plan. I have a whole bunch of submodules. I gotta figure out how to <laugh> to implement, which is fun. It’s like these tiny little projects, right? You just you bite off. And then for me, the biggest struggle is, is honestly having never done a project this scale in a, in a virtual space to, to make sure I’m implementing them in the right order. And then I’m able to you know, duplicate things when necessary to you know, make things faster and more performative and interactive and all that stuff. So just kind of planning, you know, all that out. And then, and then slowly, you know, going off one bite at a time. And then we’re also planning on really thing, the vertical slice that we have now in the app lab for, with Oculus.

Roy Magnuson (35:08):

So that is going through the first steps right now. We’re about to, to push it over to Oculus to get approval. But it’ll be available should be available for download as, as long as they are okay. With it available for download in the next couple months. So you gotta quest you can go through the, the sort of on rails experience that we’ve created, that leads you through a bunch of the different kind of modules. And it gives you a sense of what the, what the, at least the VR side of the curriculum will provide. That’s great,

Ed Haravon (35:37):


Tony Marinello (35:38):

Yeah, I think, you know, I think about it in almost different phases. And so like the, the stuff my colleagues are talking about, I, I think we’re all in agreement. Those are, we’re really starting to funnel this down, if that makes sense to a really powerful tool and a really powerful system for this singular application teaching conducting beyond that we’ve, we’ve kind of had like some side ideas of like things this could evolve into later. You know, I’m curious to see how this might impact be like K through 12 students, right. Students who are involved in music and, and in high schools, especially we did have a, a couple high school kids who, who tried it and got into it. And it was like, they were, I mean, they were very excited to do it. And cuz there is, you know, through marching band and, and even, you know, concert ensembles, there is opportunity for students to conduct, you know?

Tony Marinello (36:32):

And so I’m curious to see how that can expand to that world. And then on the other end, you know, thinking about me my own conducting my own performance, right. Is like, how can this eventually be something to where it’s I, and maybe I’m over, maybe I’m thinking way too outside the box, but I almost think of it like my phone, right. And the phone has become this immediate access to any information I can and think of. And if I’ve got a piece in my mind right away, I can go, wait, what is that? Who wrote that piece? How does that melody go? Does it go up to an a or an, a flat or whatever, then I can just look on my phone and figure it out. And now I’m thinking about, can that process now be more immediate, you know, through technology, can I have access to resources in the moment while I’m making music ago? Wait, you know, let me pull this up, you know, or what have you, I mm-hmm, <affirmative>, I’m not really sure, you know, it’s, it’s like what kind of things can we do? You know, that can be used for graduate conductors, but also practicing advanced conductors. And, you know, so that’s, that’s something I’m really excited about to see almost I, this may oversimplified, but to go either direction from where we are, we’re working with with collegiate students, like how can this expand out outward both ways.

Ed Haravon (37:49):

Yeah. Certainly things that I’d be interested to hear about. And when we have you back on and to chart your progress here and in, in, in six months, time would be, you know, what some of your colleagues are saying and what passions are and, you know, whatever form of classroom education they’re involved in, they see not only your application of the technology, but the process that you went through, the, the open sandbox, the development, the rapid innovation, and then starting to focus in on a particular curriculum. You know, obviously at, at get Rio, we think that there’s incredible possibility for not only training, both practical job skills, soft skill training, but, but education as well, this whole idea that you can see in a safe environment try before you actually have to do in the real world, the repeatability of it, the scalability of it, the cost effectiveness, really cuz it’s you, you know, Tim, you alluded to earlier recreating those, you know, how many times you can just round up a symphony and practice conducting and the ability you could do it, you know, five times a night, every hour in your dorm room with a, you know, a relatively inexpensive piece of hardware.

Ed Haravon (38:51):

And, and certainly as we see to, to touch on your point, Tony you know, these, these, these tools, these, these metaverse hardware tools, whether it be AR glasses or VR headsets and, and the form factor will continue to change and involve the same way you’re driving around with a phone in your pocket and a laptop in your bag and you have a desktop and each of these tools and, and, and, you know, each of these tools serve their own purpose and, and these glasses or the hardware or AR glasses are gonna be just another extension and you’ll be, you’ll be popping those on for 10 minutes. You’ll be taking ’em off. You’ll be moving over to your computer, you’ll be coming back. And, and, you know, we see it as, you know, it’s not gonna be an all or one, it’s not gonna take away all these other tools where people will be in headset that’s for, for eight hours a day, that would, that’s probably unrealistic.

Ed Haravon (39:39):

However, you could see them, people popping ’em on and taking ’em off you know, tens 20 times per day as, as, as need be. And, you know, we see that for having a meeting or to take a piece of training or to collaborate with colleagues, et cetera. So all great applications of the tools and great to to envision them evolving certainly on the education front, but also as we see, you know, to, to, to all users as, as, as they continue to become more mainstream. So I wanna thank everybody for their time this morning. It was really great to hear all the great work we were doing. We love VR and AR and really not metaverse ambassadors and, and Tim Tony and Roy, you guys certainly fill that, fill that moniker in great ways. And so thank you very much for sharing your story with us today. We look forward to keeping track how things go, thank you all for your time and best of luck and in the new year. So enjoy. Thank you. Thank you.