A New Kind of Collaboration

teamphotoIt’s right there in the name. Collabra is all about collaboration. What started in 2012 as a program built for collaboration between musicians has evolved, as of early last year, into one of the most exciting new technologies that is revolutionizing how music instructors and students work together.

“Collabra is an online platform for instructors and their students to better collaborate,” affirms Zack Pennington, the CMO of Collabra. “Our initial flagship product is called Collabra Music, and what we built is an audio and video lesson-and-practice recording tool that allows music instructors and their students to have a tighter feedback loop.”

Indeed, Collabra makes the process of teaching and learning music better than ever by introducing new levels of efficiency and efficacy. “Simply put, a music instructor can record audio and video of their lessons with their students, and then their students can record their practices,” Pennington describes. “So basically, now they have an active archive of everything they’re learning and working on. It’s similar to what athletes do when they review game footage – our students can review how they’re learning and how they’re practicing. And then it takes some of the mechanics of something like a fitness tracker – like a Fitbit for example – and incentivizes the students to practice more often and complete all their practices because it’s being tracked.”

Already, Collabra has received overwhelmingly positive feedback. They’ve been working with the Youth Performing Arts School and the music schools at Bellarmine and the University of Louisville, and instructors are seeing drastic improvements in the effectiveness of their lessons. “There’re really two types of Collabra users,” Pennington explains. “There’re those who have used technology before to try to do what Collabra does, and their feedback has been that Collabra is easy, it’s all-in-one, it’s user-friendly and it’s a lot less of a headache than using other technologies. And then there’re those who didn’t even know they could use technology in this process. They’ve had an even greater response because they’re now using a whole new process they didn’t even know was possible – being able to monitor their students, assign things and track them digitally.”

Moreover, Collabra is helping to change the foundation of music education by encouraging students to admit and embrace their failures so that they can better learn from their mistakes. “We want to encourage a culture of admitting your faults and admitting what you’re struggling with,” Pennington contends. “I think most students, with the way school systems are designed, don’t want to show that they’re making mistakes or that they don’t understand something because they’re normally punished for failure. Whereas with Collabra, because you’re recording your whole learning process, we want to encourage students to say, ‘Hey, I practiced this thing for three hours this week and I still don’t get it. Can you show me what I’m doing wrong?’”

Collabra also, because it records students as they practice, helps minimize distractions, increase focus and bring accountability to the forefront. “We’ve also found that when the students know that they’re being recorded when they’re practicing, they put a more concerted effort into it,” Pennington offers.

Right now, Collabra is primarily focused on increasing its number of users so that more and more can begin to take advantage of this incredibly powerful education tool. “We really want to be the gold standard for how instructors and their students collaborate, so right now, we’re trying to add as many different users as we can to the platform because ultimately Collabra’s value is as a tool,” Pennington relates. “We don’t build any curriculum or any teaching methodology into Collabra. We just want to make it – for the teachers who already have a methodology – easier for them and their students, so the more diversity we have on the platform, the more useful it will be to a larger number of people.” VT