Dr Jennifer MacRitchie awarded Ian Potter Foundation grant

Ian Potter Foundation logoDr Jennifer MacRitchie has been awarded an Ian Potter Foundation travel grant (opens in a new window) to attend a research symposium in Montreal, Canada.

The Ian Potter Foundation was established in 1964 and enables promising early-career academics and researchers to present their work at international conferences and exchange knowledge with their peers through participation in professional development opportunities.

With this travel grant, Dr MacRitchie will be attending the Learning and Teaching Music in the 21st Century: The Contribution of Science and Technology symposium. (opens in a new window)

Running from 5 - 7 November 2015, the aim of this bilingual (English-French) conference is to bring together researchers from instrumental and music pedagogy as well as those from science of performance, music performance and music practices to discuss the contribution of scientific research and technological advancements in music learning and teaching contexts in the twenty-first century.

The symposium aims to provide a dedicated platform for the communication and exchange of ideas amongst researchers in pedagogy, science, technology, performance, musical practice and related disciplines.

Dr MacRitchie will present her publication, entitled "Accessible motion capture for monitoring pianists' technique and preventing wrist injuries". She will also visit research labs at McGill University and Ottawa University.

The abstract for Jennifer's publication can be read below.

Jennifer is part of the Music Cognition and Action research group at MARCS Institute.

Recent advances in passive and markerless motion capture technology have inspired the design of applications that analyse musical performances for pedagogical purposes. However, there remains a low uptake on the use of such technology within instrumental training. This can be puzzling in the face of the benefits such motion capture can offer, whether it be the evaluation of the finer points of technique, or monitoring of posture and movements in order to minimize injury. Limitations that may partially explain why these systems are not more widely used are in the restriction of location (most recordings are conducted within a laboratory due to the size, cost and processing power required of larger motion capture systems) and instrument, particularly in the case of piano playing (most studies utilize the midi capabilities of digital pianos). These restrictions mean that piano performance cannot be monitored in situations that may be most interesting to musicians e.g. monitoring practice at home and within everyday lessons, changes in performance venue or instrument.

Possible solutions lie in more affordable and user-friendly technologies such as Kinect or simple webcam applications, despite the trade-off in accuracy. An example of a dedicated image-processing based system with a graphical user interface is proposed, using passive coloured markers and standard webcam views in order to encourage use outside the traditional laboratory environment yet retain accuracy of fine wrist measurements. Simple camera calibration options, and basic hand tracking from aerial view images allow monitoring of wrist flexion/extension, supination/pronation and ulnar and radial deviation over short video recordings. Measurements are compared to base guidelines recommended for typists in order to prevent carpal tunnel pressure, and moments of approaching or exceeding these thresholds are flagged to the user post-performance. Potential applications are seen in monitoring the practice of short technical passages, without restriction of instrument or location.